Occupy Skagit - Summer 2015

_WW_

Geriatric Skagit Swinger
WFF Supporter
It's been a busy month or so on the steelhead front here in western WA. I've managed to attend three different events and there is another one coming up next week – more on that one in a bit. These meetings and workshops were not just about the Skagit but were Puget Sound or statewide focused and of course the Skagit is a part of both of these. What I'm going to try to do here is drill down to what and how some of all this might affect restoring the C&R season on the Skagit and what those that support the efforts of Occupy Skagit can do next.

There are some new buzzwords in the realm of fish management; adaptive management.

There was a workshop in Mt Vernon with NOAA regarding the HGMPs (Hatchery Genetic Management Plans) being proposed by WDFW in an attempt to restart some of the fisheries that were shut down in response to the WFC suit. (btw the WFC attends and actively participated in all these workshops in Mt Vernon) Two important things were gleaned from this meeting that pertain to the OS front. The Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) being performed will rely on existing science and data and will not be delayed by initiating new studies to collect more information. During the discussion it was revealed in a round-a-bout way that individual, well thought out, fact based comments garner more attention than massive campaigns of copy/paste literature. Keep that in mind when I ask you to contact people...

A week after the feds held their workshop, WDFW had theirs about the gene bank proposals. I think these things are a great idea but I also think there are more pressing things that a budget strapped WDFW could be working on. Believe it or not, in the past month I am seeing signs of a shift in management design towards a basin by basin approach. The gene banks would be a part of that shift but it seems to me these could all be a part of a true basin by basin approach. Regardless, it can be seen as another step in a long journey. This is a broad topic and involves all of Puget Sound. It mainly concerns the Skagit in that the Skagit system is one of the nominees to become a gene bank. As long as the new “adaptive management” plan can allow recreational fishing when returns indicate a surplus of numbers, I'm all for it. If you send in comments on this topic it couldn't hurt to mention that small little detail if it is important to you.

A few of us attended the Commissioners meeting last friday and sat in to hear part of the WDFW presentation of the SSMP to the Commissioners. Before the presentation, Salmo and I gave our obligatory testimony regarding the C&R season on the Skagit. I don't remember all of my testimony but I do recall urging them to keep in mind that not all of our future fishing opportunity needs to only be defined by the traditional meaning of harvest.

WDFW gave their power point presentation with hard copy handouts to take home. Buried in the middle of this presentation was a sub topic entitled:
Skagit Steelhead Fishery Plan
with accompanying dialogue by Annette Hoffmann, region 4 fish program manager.

Here is a scan of the handout:


As you read through that take note of the item that reads; Targeting submission to NOAA this fall.

Awesome! After three and a half years we are about to land a management plan on NOAA's desk for approval. Keep in mind that this approval could take a year or more, but it can't even begin until they have the plan in hand. As we are listening to Annette give her talk, she gets to the part about submission and ad-libs “this fall or early winter.” What! We are not even out of the power point presentation before the back pedaling begins! Is this a subtle warning that it won't get submitted this fall? What does early winter mean anyway? Hoo boy! We need to take action on this to try and minimize or eliminate any more delay.

Here's what to do.

Email Annette Hoffman, Region 4 Fish Program Manager, at:
[email protected] and urge her to get this plan completed and submitted to NOAA as soon as possible. I would also recommend that you cc your emails to her boss Jim Scott, Special Assistant, at:
[email protected]
You can also do a personnel search at the WDFW site and get their phone #s

I would be interested in hearing the content of any replies you might receive.

Then, this arrived via email:

WFDW schedules meetings on
proposed freshwater gamefish rules


  • Mill Creek: 6 to 8 p.m., Aug. 13, WDFW Region 4 headquarters, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd, Mill Creek

  • Vancouver: 6 to 8 p.m., Aug. 17, WDFW Region 5 headquarters, 2108 Grand Blvd, Vancouver

  • Aberdeen: 6 to 8 p.m., Aug. 18, Aberdeen Rotary Log Pavilion, 1401 Sargent Blvd, Aberdeen

  • Olympia: 6 to 8 p.m., Sept. 1, Natural Resources Building - Room 175, 1111 Washington St. SE, Olympia
There is more to it than that but I'm posting this part so you can take note of the meeting locations and times to plan your attendance. In the email are listed the rule changes being considered. What's important in regards to the Skagit is that a placeholder rule allowing C&R fishing pending federal approval is missing. Here's why that matters. These rule change cycles are every two years. Here on the west side we get the Humpy years, which means the next cycle of changes after this one will be voted on in December of 2017. We are hopeful that the Skagit plan will be approved in 2016, but without a rule change there will be no C&R season in 2017. Unless of course we get an “emergency opening”... by the same person that is already backpedaling on submitting the plan... do you feel lucky?

A rule change concerning the Skagit C&R season was submitted at least twice that I know of. Attend one of these meetings, or more if possible, and push for the Skagit C&R season. These meetings are part of the new “adaptive management” and you as stakeholders and co-managers have an opportunity to make a difference, right now, in your future opportunities. Remember, you'll get the fishery you fight for, or the one you don't. The difference is up to you.
 

miyawaki

Active Member
Wayne,
Thanks a bunch for showing up at the meetings and for this report.

I am in Chicago and am returning to work Thursday and cannot attend the Mill Creek meeting but will compose and send email. Hopefully it will be read and placed in the minutes.

Leland.
 

Smalma

Active Member
Wayne -

Thanks once again for "carrying the water" for the rest of us!

For those interested in commenting on the regulation proposals here is a link to WDFW's web site -

http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/2016-2017/

The various Skagit CnR proposals are listed under not recommended in the Puget Sound section. The reason given for not recommending them was the lack of ESA directed take coverage. Several of the Skagit proposals (for example DFW162338-16) were written to be contingent on WDFW getting that permit.

Curt
 

KerryS

Ignored Member
One more thing I found of interest. At least three of the commissioners spoke directly to WDFW staff including the director himself asking why the hell is this taking so long? It was mentioned by several that OS has been showing up at meetings for four years asking to have a decision made on the Skagit and to date there is still no answer.

We need to keep the pressure on. Send those emails.
 

miyawaki

Active Member
Four years at meetings that ask for public input. Four years without an answer. No yes or no. No answers. Maybe this is how they make us go away.

Leland.



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

KerryS

Ignored Member
Leland, I think the message here is that the commission or at least a number of the commissioners are getting as frustrated with WDFW as we are. Now is not the time to go away but time to keep the pressure on. I, for one, believe we can be fishing for Skagit steelhead within the next two years.
 

_WW_

Geriatric Skagit Swinger
WFF Supporter
The reason given for not recommending them was the lack of ESA directed take coverage. Several of the Skagit proposals (for example DFW162338-16) were written to be contingent on WDFW getting that permit.

I think I counted 13 separate rule changes for the Skagit C&R season. The most popular 'not recommended' rules change this season, or possibly ever!

As I mentioned above, the rule could be a placeholder (great idea Salmo) until the permit is in hand.

A question here, possibly only about semantics. During her presentation Annett used the term "remove them from the DPS". I've heard this phrase used before but couldn't remember who used it. If they are removed from a federal ESA listed DPS, would a permit even be required?
 

Smalma

Active Member
Wayne -
I don't know if there has been an ESA case where a single population within a Distinct Population Segment (DPS) has be excluded from a ESA listing. If the Skagit was removed from the Puget Sound ESA DPS then a permit would not be required.

However to me I would think attempting to remove the Skagit from the DPS would be asking for the feds to sued by one or more parties; which of course would add more time to the process.

Curt
 

Ed Call

Long Lost Member
WFF Supporter
Maybe letters to the three commissioners, thanking them. Letters to the others ask g them to get on board now. Letters to wdfw for a myriad of reasons. Wayne, and others are the fulcrum of the process. We must take this opportunity to push past the tipping point.
 

_WW_

Geriatric Skagit Swinger
WFF Supporter
During the meeting I got a chance to chat with Miranda Wecker from Naselle, Pacific County at the break. The conversation eventually got around to the glacial pace that things on the Skagit front seemed to be moving. With all the things that are now going to require federal permits, the pace will only get slower. One thing that you can do to help? Contact your legislators, all of them, and push for more funding for these departments. They're understaffed and their workload is only increasing.
 

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