New Puget Sound Chinook Resource Management Plan

The single most impactful thing that could be done to recover Washington ESA listed Chinook salmon would be to ensure Alaska and Canada are not harvesting them in their commercial and rec fisheries. For some reason (money) the feds will not curtail the huge commercial fisheries taking Washington kings in Alaska. An ESA listed king should be protected whether it is in Washington or Alaska. Unfortunately the Alaska Commercial fishing industry has a tremendous amount of pull with the feds (due to paying federal officials to ensure they get priority and keep fishing as usual) which is why nothing has been done up there to protect our salmon. This also affects the killer whales food source.

It absolutely blows my mind why the WDFW has not filed a lawsuit against the feds requiring them to protect these same Washington ESA listed kings while they are in Alaska. Ok I guess it is not that surprising since the WDFW is only concerned about there paychecks and that they keep coming.

Then you have predation in the sound and straits. Seals, sea lions and cormorants are consuming more king salmon than fish caught by NI commercial fisherman, tribal commercial fisherman and rec anglers combined.

Next in line you have poor habitat.


Active Member
Did we all see this incredible article about the SHAM (red herring, if you will) excuse of the Stilly Chinook being the reason why Area 6/7/8/9 are probably going to get closed?

The article's conclusion is that the Stilly Chinook numbers won't increase until the spawning beds habitat are improved/recovered and that closing the salt to fishing will have negligible impact on increasing Stilly Chinook runs.


the sultan of swing
Did we all see this incredible article about the SHAM (red herring, if you will) excuse of the Stilly Chinook being the reason why Area 6/7/8/9 are probably going to get closed?

The article's conclusion is that the Stilly Chinook numbers won't increase until the spawning beds habitat are improved/recovered and that closing the salt to fishing will have negligible impact on increasing Stilly Chinook runs.
stopping the snagging at the old C-post bridge would likely help the resource.


Active Member
Did we all see this incredible article about the SHAM (red herring, if you will) excuse of the Stilly Chinook being the reason why Area 6/7/8/9 are probably going to get closed?

The article's conclusion is that the Stilly Chinook numbers won't increase until the spawning beds habitat are improved/recovered and that closing the salt to fishing will have negligible impact on increasing Stilly Chinook runs.
A very well-written piece that makes a lot of sense to me. I hope most of the more knowledgeable members here have/will read this and share their thoughts. Noted that one of the tribal co-managers has weighed in below the article... in the "comments" section.
Yes it is imperative that everyone sends the commission an email telling them that they have our support and that they either change the 8% stilly Chinook cap or rescind the management plan. I will be sending my third email to them today. Below is what PSA sent to the commission and other state managers.

We need your help and you need to send an email immediately to the WDFW Commission telling them that the Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan Is bad for Washington. We need people to show up at the January 19 Commission meeting in Ridgefield Washington.

This plan went sideways with one small component of the plan-the Stillaguamish River Chinook. Its a broken river that can barely produce wild fish. This portion of the plan was signed at a time when the top two WDFW Fishery managers were out of Country. Director Unsworth and Fish Program Manager were not present! There was haste in signing the document by a deadline. What is at stake? If enacted, you will see massive fishing closures from La Push on the coast, through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, up through the San Juans, down to Tacoma. There will be very limited fishing in a few areas and closures in most. This saves approximately 9-10 fish that the plan itself states that the river cannot recover due to habitat-not fishing. A self destructive plan was not required. How would little to no fishing effect your life-for the next 10 years?

Yes, the Stillaguamish River needs our help and we do not disagree with that. It needs fixed and that is the only way that wild fish will recover. Why punish all other fisheries? It is not the solution to the problem. We need to reassure the commission that they are the policy board for WDFW. Taken straight from the WDFW Commission homepage, "The Commission is the supervising authority for the Department."

We need you to send this out to everyone you know and email the commission, in your own words. We are counting on them to do the right thing and stop this self manufactured disaster. They need to give direction to Director Unsworth to tell the tribes we have to go back to the drawing board and fix the Stillaguamish River Component, and should revert it back to the previous Mangement Plan criteria. If that cannot be done then we have to pull out of the plan entirely. The other important step is to tell them it is imperative they do not allow this plans framework to be used in 2018 as it will kill our fisheries. Please feel free to use any part of the letter and fact sheet below. They need to hear from you now! We will follow up with another voter voice next week before the January 19 Commission meeting in Ridgefield, WA.

Email address for Commisson to send letter and comments to:
[email protected],

We need you at the Jan 19 Commission meeting, to show opposition to the plan. Lets fill the room!
Open Comment 9:45am - Probably 3 minutes maximum to speak.
Managment Plan is to be at 2:00 PM
January 19, 2018
WDFW Region 5 Office
Room 102A
5525 S 11th Street
Ridgefield, WA 98642

Below is our Puget Sound Anglers letter to the WDFW Commission concerning the Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Plan.

January 7, 2018
Fish & Wildlife Commission
600 Capital Way North
Olympia, WA 98501

Re: Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan-a 10 year self-manufactured-disaster.

Dear Commissioners,
I am writing you about the controversial Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan. This plan was not well thought out and you were excluded from the process. This plan is a needless self-made-disaster due to WDFW not fully doing their homework and signed by the Director. This appears to be making steps towards conservation, when in fact it does nothing for conservation on the Stillaguamish river, the main driver. I am attaching a fact sheet to explain why. Instead it will cause severe hardships for its constituents and Washington State businesses. It is going to bankrupt many of them (it has already started the domino effect). It does not fix the real problem driver that sinks the ship, the Stillaguamish River. I am attaching a Dec. 28 letter from Master Marine of cancelation of new boat building orders. Charters are calling me and bailing out trying to sell their boats and charter licenses. This was seeks ago so I am sure this getting worse. We have solutions that can work and are glad to share with you. This plan was finalized and signed at a time when, Ron Warren the Fish Program Manager and Director Jim Unsworth were both out of the country, to meet the deadline. The two top fishery department leads were not there in person to inspect and finish the plan. Had Ron Warren been there, I guarantee this would not have happened. We believe only 1-2 staff members are in favor of the Stilly portion and the rest of staff is not. The Stillaguamish has very small amount of habitat for wild fish to spawn. Sediment is a major problem in this river. Stopping all fishing will not recover the Stilly Chinook. The PSCHMP states this in it! The general public understand this and is outraged that this has gone this far. Conspiracy theories are being pondered because common sense is being ruled out. The Commission needs to stand against this and right the wrong. North of Falcon 2018 is coming fast. This management plan cannot be used as a framework for this year's NOF 2018. The plan has got to be sent back to the drawing board for alteration or be rescinded altogether. This plan is a disaster in the making for Washington state. Some of the tribes are not on board with it either. The tribes did not cause this. It's a WDFW problem.

The new Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan will close or severely restrict saltwater salmon fishing from La Push to Tacoma, including the San Juans, and Strait of Juan de Fuca. Also will devastate Washington State boat manufacturing, its sales, tackle manufacturers, tackle retailers, marinas, and coastal communities. Not to mention unjustly remove available fisheries from WDFW's own constituents. Closed fisheries will not fund WDFW and it is cutting its own throat. Below are the reasons that this plan has to be altered or back out of the deal. It might be uncomfortable but is the right thing to do. We have been holding back the floodgates of the general fishing public until we got to the bottom of this.

Expectations from WDFW on the 338 page Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan were very disappointing. They did not model all of the plans to be able to project the future before signing off. WDFW did not work on behalf of its stakeholders/constituents concerns as the lead negotiator. We constituent's license fees pay to keep WDFW funded. In return, we have expectations from our partners to negotiate in good faith for us. It's a partnership.

Stillaguamish River Chinook Component is the constraining stock of the entire plan and this is what we are talking about.

1. Were Stillaguamish Conservation goals met, and what is wrong with the Stillaguamish River?

A. NO, this is not a fishing problem but strictly a habitat problem. Stated in the plan itself. By cutting fishing for the last 30 years, in this area, has not fixed this habitat. Page 167 from the PS Chinook RMP states, "Due to the limited productivity of existing habitat, it is unlikely that
fishery actions alone can rebuild abundance of Stillaguamish Chinook to higher levels. "

B. The available spawning habitat on the Stillaguamish River can only hold approximately 930 spawners. The wild fish in this river system are battling to survive due to very little available spawning habitat.

C. Oso mudslide in Stilly is only a smaller part of the sediment problem. USGS study: "Based on this estimate, landslide material accounted for about 30 percent of the total suspended sediment load in the lower Stillaguamish River between March 2014 and September 2015." Page 44- Geomorphic Response of the North Fork Stillaguamish River to the State Route 30 landslide near Oso, Washington," a 2017 report." Only 30% is from the mudslide! The Stilly is in very bad shape! Sediment is a major problem.

2. WDFW is supposed to enhance fisheries for its constituents when available. This plan does the exact opposite. It crushes our fishing, economy, boat and tackle manufacturers, Charter businesses, retailers, hotels, marinas, etc. According to a 2011 study, it shows 1.6 Billion dollars were spent on hunting and fishing in Washington State. This is attached.

Major Problems with the plan:
1. WDFW Commission, is its Policy body, was never reported to, advised, nor asked for recommendations. The commission is part of WDFW and should not have been excluded. Now is their chance to right this wrong.

2. A new lower coast wide impact rate was the only requirement to be applied to the Stilly. NMFS (Feds) requirement was that it be dropped from the previous rate of 25% to 24% (Alaska, Canada, and lower U.S.) coast wide. The SUS portion (southern U.S. below the Canadian border) was previously managed to be below 15%. (The 15% is combined-us and the tribes.) Between us and our neighbors to the north, we needed to stay below the new overall 24% rate. Somewhere a new 8% impact rate was agreed to and changed from a target to a ceiling or cap. We have asked WDFW repeatedly who required this new low of 8%?
To date-Still No Answer.

3. Not only was the 8% agreed to but it was not modeled across past fisheries to see how they would have played out. You have to know how any new plan effects the future by applying it to the past. Especially before being handcuffed to it for 10 years. It was modeled for us weeks after the plan was signed, per our request. In the past 5 years we averaged 13% showing that those our Puget Sound fisheries would have been cut in 2016 we had a no agreement at North of Falcon negotiations.

4. The Stilly Management Chinook was changed adding and protecting a hatchery Chinook. In doing this the entire management of that river has to be remodeled and changes made because of this. Agreeing to this Stilly component in its current form should never have been allowed. Once studied and new management applied, should lessen constraints on all other fisheries.

5. This plan penalizes all Washington State Saltwater Fisheries. It either completely closes or severely restricts all saltwater salmon fisheries. 3 of the 13 areas that will not be affected with Stillaguamish Chinook (Ilwaco, Westport, and Olympia) will still have repercussions from being the only place to fish with open seasons that will end quickly due to overwhelming crowds.

6. Top two WDFW fishery managers were out of the country and not there for the final negotiation/signing.
This non-required decision is detrimental to all of Washington State fisheries and our economy. This plan would only save approximately 9-10 Stilly Chinook on a non-recoverable river in its current state. Foregone Opportunity can be used by tribes to take our share too, when we are not even on the water. This needs to be mentioned.

This plan is a full circle destruction of WDFW and here is why:
Closed fisheries cuts funding as license sales will drop off dramatically.
These fees fund the department.
WDFW will not have adequate funding as license sales are a giant portion of their budget.
WDFW is causing lost support from almost all recreational fishers.
When fisheries are closed, Legislature will close hatcheries. Our license fees fund hatcheries. If we can't fish then legislature will not fund them.
Less hatchery fish will expose the few wild fish left to predators such as seals and sea lions.
(New study shows 86% of smolts are eaten by harbor seals in the Salish sea.)
The orcas we are trying to save thorough hatchery increases will be further harmed.
The wild fish will completely disappear.

As commissioners you took this seat to do the right thing for our resources. We want to make sure you understand what this plan really says and does. It drives the last nail in the Washington state salmon fisheries coffin. You were purposely left out of being able to manage and oversee decision making on this issue.
We see three options for you.
1. Do nothing and let this collapse happen on your watch

2. Talk with the tribes and they understand that we want the Stilly component of the plan revised. The 8% ceiling shall be changed to a target. The rest of the plan stays intact.

3. Completely pull out of the plan entirely.

At our Dec 20th meeting between WDFW Staff and Recreational Stakeholders, at the end, Director Unsworth told us he would be having a meeting with the Commission for them to tell him what to do. This is your chance to fix this. Direct Director Unsworth to alter the plan per above. If it cannot be done then tell him to rescind the plan.
We recommend to you, Commissioners, revising the portion of the Stilly for the plan, and feel is the best option. If we cannot get agreement then we have to pull out of the plan entirely. It is an option that you can take up with Mr Grossman of the AGs office. We have been told it is an option. I am sure you do not want the fisheries and businesses collapse to be on your watch. You have the chance to make a difference and save our Sound. Please do not accept this plan as is. I am available for you to answer questions and help guide you if needed. Feel free to contact me.

Thank you.

Ron Garner
Puget Sound Anglers State Board

cc Honorable Jay Inslee, Governor
Jim Unsworth, Director Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife
Senate Natural Resources Kevin Van De Wege
Mike Grossman, Washington Attorney General's Office
Senator Maria Cantwell
Congress Derek Kilmer
Congress Jamie Herrera Beutler
Congress Rick Larsen
Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan Fact sheet for you to use

This plan is a disaster will equate to 10s of thousands of job losses. You received a Dec. 28 letter from George Harris of Northwest Marine Trade Association describing this troubling situation to you on behalf of its Washington state 725 businesses it represents.
Reasons for not signing plan-Stillaguamish River Chinook is main problem of the plan:

1. This plan was not well thought out and modeled to see how it would affect all saltwater fisheries. The real facts of the Stilly do not support it. It is going to cause massive closures and severe restrictions on our saltwater salmon fisheries. This is sparking total outrage, not setting well with the general fishing public nor legislators, both federal and state.

2. The general public now has a good understanding of what happened here. WDFW took steps to appear as taking the high moral ground of conservation to benefit the Stillaguamish River Chinook. But after thorough investigation cutting fisheries does nothing for conservation. It does however set up Washington state businesses to fail, crush a major part of our hunting and fishing $1.6 billion states annual income, and tells recreational fishers to go fish somewhere else. WDFW is getting ready to ask for a fishing license fee increase from us. Why should they be rewarded?

3. Plan was signed by WDFW for State without any and all WDFW Commissioners (Policy Makers) review or stakeholder input. Outcome would have been much different with commission and/or input.

4. The Stillaguamish River, in its current form, cannot recover its wild Chinook due to habitat and water quality problems-even if all fishing was shut down from Alaska to California. This river is broken. See #10 below.

5. NMFS only required that we drop the Stilly impacts from a previous 5 year plan from 25% down to 24%. West coast wide. We had held the Southern US (south of the Canadian border) to 15% which still was acceptable. This 15% is combined tribal and non-tribal.

6. The Stilly component drops the SUS 15% rate to 8% and changes it from a target to a ceiling that cannot be exceeded. Was not required. We could have stayed with the Federal 24% NMFS guideline.

7. The Plan was signed without modeling how this 8% Stilly cap would affect our fisheries future and how it would have effected previous fisheries. WDFW modeled, per our request, and brought us the info on Dec 20th with recreational leaders meeting #2. How could they make solid decisions without having this before negotiations?

8. WDFW and recreational leaders meeting #2, Staff brought Stilly 8% ceiling modeling applied to years 2013-2017. 2013-15.7%, 2014-10%, 2015-13.6%, 2016-14.2%. 2017-11.5%. All years are way over the 8%. Remember 2016 when non tribals didn't hardly fish due to non agreement at North of Falcon? We were still 6.2% over the new 8% ceiling! Let that sink in. These numbers are for both tribal and non-tribal. These not so great fishing years would have had to been severely constrained for an unrecoverable fish in its current form. This modeling should have been done and used when negotiating the Stilly portion, not weeks later.

9. Page 167 from the PS Chinook RMP, “Due to the limited productivity of existing habitat, it is unlikely that fishery actions alone can rebuild abundance of Stillaguamish Chinook to higher levels.”

10. Oso mudslide in Stilly is only a smaller part of the sediment problem. USGS study, "Based on this estimate, landslide material accounted for about 30 percent of the total suspended sediment load in the lower Stillaguamish River between March 2014 and September 2015." Page 44- Geomorphic Response of the North Fork Stillaguamish River to the State Route 30 landslide near Oso, Washington," a 2017 report."

11. The constraints put on our Salmon Fisheries from the Stilly component alone, will shut down Puget Sound Salmon fisheries completely in some areas and allow for very small openings in others from La Push on the Washington Pacific Ocean, through the Strait, San Juans, and down to Tacoma. This will only save approximately 9-10 Chinook on a river that cannot support wild Chinook. If habitat is not going to be fixed and/or a new state of the art hatchery built, wild these stocks are going to die off whether we fish or not.

12. Why did WDFW go so far on to sign this Stilly component? It was not required. They could have held at Status Quo. WDFW told us they split up into groups and worked with different tribes to negotiate the plan for each area. In negotiations one side starts high and the other starts low and you should end up somewhere in between. Did WDFW just sign off with no negotiation and take what was on the table? To date there has been no answer why they went far beyond what was required. The Stillaguamish has very little suitable habitat for spawning.

13. The Stilly Chinook previously used for the management unit went from an ESA Wild Natural Origin River Fish to a marked hatchery fish. No other river has ever done this and requires the management to change for our marked select fisheries for using a marked fish. The management unit of this river is going to have to be changed to meet different criteria to use a marked select fish that all of our Puget Sound Chinook Fisheries are designed and managed for. This alone should kick the Stilly out from the plan.

14. Meeting #2 George Harris of NMTA asked WDFW staff if this was the end of salmon fishing in the Puget Sound. They told us no they did not think so. The rest of us believe it is, because there is a tipping point and we are reaching it. An aluminum boat manufacturer in Colville, Washington just purchased a large parcel of land across the street from its current facility to build a new state of the art, bigger and better manufacturing plant. He was advised not to build it. Another issue-After just a small release of the Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan, one boat sales company reported that two new boat building orders were canceled and checks had to be returned. Just those two boats lost $235,550 in sales. This is all lost revenue to the state.

15. This is not a tribal issue and we are afraid that this could blow up between us and the tribes. This is a time when we need each other the most and have been working with them trying to repair our relationships and fisheries.

16. Director Jim Unsworth and Fish Program Manager Ron Warren were both out of country when this plan was finalized and signed. Had Ron been there this would not have gone down this way.

Salmon recovery concerns:

A. Out of control predation. "Harbor seals in the Salish Sea (i.e. Puget Sound, Strait of Georgia, and Strait of San Juan de Fuca) accounted for 86.4% of the total coast wide smolt consumption in 2015, due to large increases in the harbor seal abundance in this region between 1975 and 2015 (8,600 to 77,800)"
From Scientific Reports published Nov 20, 2017 and acknowledgments were made to NMFS staff as well as many scientists. Also supported by the Pacific Salmon Commission.

B. Lack of abundance of hatchery fish to create a buffer for wild fish stocks to get through predators, commercial, and recreational fisheries to Northern BC and Alaska and back home. The Columbia River and Willipa Chinook hatcheries carried the brunt of the load for many years as sacrificial fish for our ESA Puget Sound Wild Chinook Stocks up north. Now that those hatcheries have been slashed, our PS stocks are totally exposed and might not be able to recover. Canadian and Alaska fisheries are taking too many of our fish. ESA seems to be paid for at the home waters. Not acceptable.

C. Lack of healthy habitat and estuaries as well as a polluted Puget Sound. We are still losing habitat faster than it is being restored. Washington has the nation's largest building boom. Bigger than LA and New York.

See Attached
1. Letter from Master Marine on lost sales
2. Washington State $1.6 Billion Income from Hunting and Fishing sheet

We welcome your feedback and are happy to work with you in any way possible. This is an unacceptable self-imposed crisis in the making and cannot go forward as presented. It must either be altered or rescinded and cannot be used as a framework for 2018 NOF.

Ron Garner
Puget Sound Anglers
State Board


The wanted posters say Tim Hartman
Yeah, just this afternoon I've sent off my, what?, second or third message to the Commission to encourage them to either modify or, if changes don't occur, refuse being a part of this plan.

If any of you out there have not been bombarding the WDFW, the Fish and Wildlife Commission and any and all pertinent legislators with your opinions of this disaster of a management plan, all I have to ask is WHY HAVEN'T YOU??? :eek:
I listened to the entire conference call today. Two things have to happen immediately: first, the Commission needs to rescind the delegation of authority it gave to Unsworth to make all fisheries decisions that are the prerogative of the Commission, and second, they need to get their own lawyer because it's clear that the AG lawyer is representing Unsworth and the staff rather than WDFW as a whole, which includes the Commission. The lawyer actually said that "confidentiality concerns" make it almost impossible for the Commission to participate in the matters as to which it delegated authority to Unsworth. Horrifying.

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