What happend to the steelhead in Washington?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by IHV2FSH, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. gt

    gt Active Member

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    yes, the whole thing turns on the word 'industry'. so consider:

    - puget sound anglers; waters west; cabala's....
    - sage; g loomis; burkheimier...
    - every saltwater licensed fishing guide and charter services...
    - every saltwater port that charges a launch fee...
    - van rippers, olsens, big salmon and every other small town dependent on sport angling

    you see, 'industry' is a very interesting word and one that more than likely has a pretty broad legal interpretation. simply because the bought and paid for commission interprets that word as MSY does NOT mean they have the correct interpretation or a legal mandate.

    so here is another opportunity for the state level 'conservation' groups that lobbied to retain WDFW, as is, to step forward and mount a challenge to MSY. do you suppose anything will happen from these 'conservation' groups???? we can hope so but i ain't a holdin' my breath.

    and as ray troll so aptly put in on one of his art pieces: 'No fish - No fishermen'
     
  2. Be Jofus G

    Be Jofus G Banned or Parked

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    I can guarentee one thing that these conservation groups will continue to do. They'll continue to collect donations and membership dues.
     
  3. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    gt -
    Regading WW's point about the legislative mandate here is just one example (I no longer have much patience to keep plowng the same ground over and over).

    RCW -77.50.120

    "Maintaining consistent salmon harvest levels.

    It is the intent of the legislature to ensure that a sustainable level of salmon is made available for harvest for commercial fishers in the state. Maintaining consistent harvest levels has become increasingly difficult with the listing of salmonid species under the federal endangered species act. Without a stable level of harvest, fishers cannot develop niche markets that maximize the economic value of the harvest. New tools and approaches are needed by fish managers to bring increased stability to the fishing industry.

    In the short term, it is the legislature's intent to provide managers with tools to assure that commercial harvest of targeted stocks can continue and expand under the constraints of the federal endangered species act. There are experimental types of commercial fishing gear that could allow fishers to stabilize harvest levels by selectively targeting healthy salmon stocks.

    For the longer term, the department of fish and wildlife shall proceed with changes to the operation of certain hatcheries in order to stabilize harvest levels by allowing naturally spawning and hatchery origin fish to be managed as a single run. Scientific information from such hatcheries would guide the department's approach to reducing the need to mass mark hatchery origin salmon where appropriate."


    It is that kind of thinking coming from the State's citzens via our elected officials that is reflected in the Co-manager's Puget Sound management plan with MSY management (reflecting tribal and State mandates). Unfortuantely for those fishing for wild steelhead as part of the Federal court and advisory decisions in the Boldt Case area steelhead are considered to be part of the PS Salmon Management plan - ergo in regard to steelhead MSY management in the Case are WDFW is under a Federal Court directive. The good news is the co-manager do have the latitude to argee to other standards. An example would be the Skagit where the co-managers have agreed to an escapement goal that is 150% of the best estimates of MSY levels (based on conditions from the late 1970s to early 1990).

    In spite of all the above MSY management has had very little to do with the current state of Steelhead in Puget Sound. Current escapement goals for nearly all the PS basins for the last 10 to 25 years have been above MSY levels (and usually carrying capacity levels). A common problem in this kinds of discussions is folks refusal to come to gripes that like our steelhead populations and their abundance population parameter suchs as carry capacity and MSY escapement levels are very dynamic typically reflecting the combined effect of freshwater and marine water survival conditions.

    Focusing on MSY management like over harvest and hatchery wild interactions do little more than divert attention from the big picture and an understanding of what is occuring with our steelhead populations and the key drivers in determining their status. Without that understanding there is little potential of taking meaningful actions to benefit those steelhead.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  4. gt

    gt Active Member

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    yes sir're, i am tired of plowing the same old field as well. it comes down to the HOW question. overharvest based on inflated return estimates is hardly a methodology to 'maintain stable levels' of harvestable fish. what we have here is WDFW interpreting words which quite likely have a long history of litigation and therefore definition. i am certain that if acturate data were available and presented to the legislature, a totally different scenario would arise.

    one simplist idea is to go backward in time and compare the return forecasts with the actual observed returns. how far off the mark were the estimates? 20%,30%,40%,...70%,80% ?????? what become quickly apparent is the projection for returning fishe are over stated each and every year resulting in quotas which are far too generous. now just why do you suppose that happens??

    MSY is only a piece of this puzzle and it is decimating the OP wild steelhead stocks while the apologists complain about plowing.

    as has already been pointed out by several posters, some habitat rehalibitation combined with the elimination of zombie stockings HAS had a positive impact on the return of wild steelhead. i believe the majority of folks who read these discussions can see the connection and the logic for this sort of management move on the part of WDFW. but, MSY, the thing you would rather ignore, dominates the picture and drives all decisions. we have it in writing from the commission chairperson, co-signed by Phil himself, that MSY is THE objective of WDFW.

    a challenge to these 'interpretations' would more than likely result in a different outcome in a federal court of law. but, as i said, the state level 'conservation' groups don't appear to be interested in conserving much of anything.
     
  5. Jerry White

    Jerry White Active Member

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    This.

    If you talk to the biologists that work for USFS that are tracking the redds in the upper Salmon River drainage of ID, they will tell you that real recovery is not happening... redd counts of wild and native steelhead and spring chinook salmon continue to slip, in spite of the qrotesque amout of BPA funded supplimentation.

    (In the Snake River Basin) We need to manage our rivers/hydro system in ways that value NATIVE, genetically unique (and ancient) salmon/steelhead stocks.

    By the way, we are in a cycle of good ocean conditions... those are due to end soon and shift to something like we saw in the 90s... When that happens, we will again see that these socks are incredibly vunerable to the degraded river habitats/hatchery programs.
     
  6. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    gt -
    Not sure that there is much wrong with MSY management. Now before folks go off the deep end MSY means maximum sustained yield. In the fish business yield can be measured in a number of different things. It is true that typically MSY is considered the same as MSH - max. sustained harvest - that is dead fish. However the objective could just as easily be max. sustained smolts (one measure of carrying capacity) or max. sustained recreation (usually measured as man days of fishing - such management usually ends up being some sort of mixture of harvest and CnR fisihing). I suspect that if anyone is still reading this they could get behind either max. sus. smolts (MSS) or max. sus. recreation (MSR).

    In light of the current difficult economic times in the salmon and steelhead world another variation of MSY might be max. sus. economic value which almost assurely would require a major shift for most species towards the recreational fishery.

    Now I can understand folks have a problem wiht max. sus. Harvest (MSH) but even there I'm not sure that one can say MSH management leads to extinction. After all such a result would indicate a failure to manage for MSH - extinction can hardly be called MSH. In virtually every fishery where the population has "crashed" under MSH management has been the result of the managers allow harvest rates in excess of what can be sustainable - either through caving in to pressure from the users, failure to recognize and adapt to changing conditions, etc.

    Now it should go without saying that in fisheries with both commercial and recreation fishers that MSH is a crappy way to manage from the recreational point of view. This is double so when the commercial fishery occurs in front of or before the recreational fishery. The recreational fishery is left with fishing on reduced abundances - that is fishing will be tougher. Further it will be typically that under MSH management run sizes will be smaller but not necessarily decreasing. Those smaller run sizes is the cost of managing for harvest.

    It should also go with saying that sort of MSY management should be carefully monitored to assure that objections are being met, population productivities are being maintained, management is repsonsive to management errors and inprecision, etc.

    It is my opinion that those of concern about the long term health of our wild steelhead and the potential fisheries they may support would be much better off spending our efforts lobbying for management of "yields" that we favor, that objectives are adequately buffered to account for management error and inprecision. The year to year results carefully monitored with review to assure that critical population parameters are being met.

    BTW -
    I agree that often it seems that many of the "conservation groups" seem to be more interested in conserving their "business" than the resource.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  7. gt

    gt Active Member

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    thanks curt, an interesting perspective. as everyone knows, the 'science' of fisheries management is very sketchy. while the biology can be studies in the lab, once we step out into the real world of interactions between variables we can hardly describe, much less control, all hell breaks loose. what does seem to be the case, from an operational point of view, is estimated run returns are stated using a variety of methodologies, but hardly every, perhaps never, measure up to the actual observed. a good example of this are the escapement goals for every managed eco system. have they ever been met much less exceeded? now once that failure of escapement is noted, logged in and pondered, it somehow does not make much sense, to this statistically inclined person, to simply pull out the same methodology for the next run cycle/projection. in other words, more of the same guarantees, more of the same.

    there does not seem to be any sort of reflection and correction done by WDFW staff in making estimates and correcting their quite inaccurate guess work. that said, the number of unknowns in the prediction equation are many and uncontrolled. from a statistical perspective, if i was off 30% this year, it would suggest that i reduce my projection by at least that number for the next run cycle projection. it might also suggest that i examine the last 10 years of actual observations and apply a correction factor that mirrors, lets say, a 10 year average.

    but when WDFW staff continue to run their weegi board, seemingly without correcting their procedures, what we end up with is in effect MSH. whether that occurs before or after a sport season matters not too much from the point of view of declining run stocks. even the canadian DFO, roundly trashed in canada, attempts to break down runs by region/area, provide forecasts for those smaller management segments and actually closes down harvest for specific species in specific areas. they are closer than WDFW in their management practices but still miss lots of projections.

    so since, statistically speaking, run estimates, escapement goals, and stock health all turn out to be a combination of observation, historic data and staff opinions, my problem is simply that harvest quotas, for all concerned, are being established at a level that guarantees non-sustainable populations of fish from one end of this state to the other.

    having spent considerable personal time learning how the statistical treatement of data are accomplished by WDFW and having taken the time to question their methodologies, i had to conclude that the statistical staff along with the stock managers really don't have a leg to stand on. if they were to submit their methodologies for peer review to any of a dozen or so statistical journals, they would end up in the trash pile, thats how far off their strategies are in terms of any hope of modeling what the rest of us observe.

    the solution, for this old cowboy, is to continue challenging WDFW in every way i can think of, including disolving the agency and destroying the agency culture of MSY/MSH. many of you thought retaining the status quo was somehow the correct choice. while change is difficult for many, it is the correct choice with regard to fisheries managment. the culture at WDFW pretty much guarantees that what you see today will only be worse tomorrow.

    the 'conservation' groups i send dollars too have seen the last of my money. they will now have to show me the beef before they get another cent. voting with your wallet is simply another tool each of us has to impact those who claim to stand up for conservation.
     
  8. Davy

    Davy Active Member

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    dam right! they sure will, and even offer estate planning too
     
  9. _WW_

    _WW_ Geriatric Skagit Swinger

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    Just so you know, the fishing was pretty decent here on the Skagit in the 90s.
     
  10. bennysbuddy

    bennysbuddy the sultan of swing

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    Damm right the 90's were good, I could acually catch them back in the day
     
  11. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    If nothing else the last twenty years or so should have demostrated to all that part of the dynamic nature of steelhead (and other anadromous salmonids) is that significant variations in regional marine survival is the norm.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  12. Jerry White

    Jerry White Active Member

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    Probably true enough... I was speaking of the Columbia/Snake River basins when the runs were pretty depressed. Like Smalma points out, the variation between stocks in the various parts of WA makes generalizing a problem... That's why we've seen some temporary bumps in the Basin numbers of steel (due to spill/ocean) in the last few years while the OP/PS stocks are in the toilet.
     
  13. FlyFishingX

    FlyFishingX New Member

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    This is quite possibly the most depressing thread I have laid eyes on.
     
  14. skyrise

    skyrise Active Member

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    i have NO HOPE that puget sound stocks (Steelhead) will recover, and now some Salmon stocks are headed in the same direction.
    thats right boys and girls, gone forever.
    but hey we can then plant what ever we want from what ever hatchery.
    no worries.
    is the WDFW job to protect runs from failure?
     
  15. _WW_

    _WW_ Geriatric Skagit Swinger

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    I had a dream...

    All the wild fish were gone and the state closed the hatcheries. In an effort to keep their 'tradition' alive the tribes opened up new hatcheries and repopulated the rivers with thousands upon thousands of fish. This was all very expensive, but they persevered and the rivers were once again full of leaping fish. Then one fine day a guy showed up to the river with his jet sled and a host of bobber rods. "Hey, remember me? A long time ago we signed a treaty. Half of these fish are mine..."