As always salmonid recovery is not really about recovering the fish but surviving the process with minimal impacts on non-fishing uses of the resource.
The harsh reality is that in spite of the teeth gnashing that goes on in these kinds of discussion angler apathy is such that it is hard to see any path forward that does not result in accelerating loss of recreational salmonid fisheries.
It would be interesting to know how the Skagit season ended up on the list of things to eliminate.
I've been thinking for the past few years that WDFW needs a new business plan, grounded in the 21st century - something they seem to be missing. If Susewind follows through on the Skagit closure, I think I'm going to make it my life's mission to drive the Department's General Fund appropriation to zero, or as close as the Legislature will possibly go. I don't know if the Department can be persuaded that continually biting the hand that feeds (funds) it is a really bad business model. With or without Occupy Skagit, I expect to be attending upcoming WDFW Commission meetings.
Some good thoughts here. Biting the hand that feeds is only making the issues worse, and both creativity and pragmatism are badly needed.Without a doubt WDFW is broken but I think Kerry touched on a key point in that the Legislature plays a major role in these funding questions. Any path forward in preserving future fishing (and yes it is a much larger issue than just the Skagit CnR steelhead season) will by necessity require engaging both WDFW and the legislature.
I believe that a foundational issue is whether fishing represents a legitimate use of some the historic productivity of the resource. Currently fishing is in direct competition with a wide range of habitat impacts from other users. Other the decades we have seen a constant reduction in allowable fishing impacts while seeing increasing impacts from other users. If one reads the letters to the editors, talk legislatures, planning departments and etc. it is clear than most of society don't think fishing is a legitimate use (well may some sort of bone is needed for tribal fishing). By eliminating fishing politically society can kick the absolute requirement to alter habitat impacts from other uses down the road. As always salmonid recovery is not really about recovering the fish but surviving the process with minimal impacts on non-fishing uses of the resource.
How do we go forward? First with the information learned from the Skagit CnR fish the last two seasons I would estimate that an adequate fishery monitoring effort could be designed for around $100,000/season. Might require some season adjustment (5 days/week or more limited area) but those decisions will depend on examination of the details of the last season fishery and precision of that monitoring. Where could that $100K come from?
Until a few years ago WDFW was planting 228,000 winter smolts in the Skagit. The program goal is raise those smolts to 6/# or to produce 38,000 pounds (228,000/6) of smolts. From WDFW 2010 hatchery genetic management plans it was estimated that the hatchery winter steelhead smolt production cost $3.50/#. Where did that $133,000 (38,000 times 3.5) to produce those Skagit smolts go? Is it inappropriate to expect that money should be used to support continued Skagit steelhead fishing (the CnR season)? I think so!
I wonder how many folks would be willing to pay say $100/month or $100/season to gain access to a Skagit CnR steelhead season? What if that season were limited entry? Would a petition in support of a continue Skagit season with "appropriate user fees" generate enough interest to be of use as a political lever?
As I said I see this Skagit issue as just part of a much larger one and an other "Occupy Skagit" probably would not be adequate. OS succeed due to efforts a very small handful of folks (thanks Wayne!) and we are facing a much larger/broader fight that likely will require more energy than a few folks can supply. The harsh reality is that in spite of the teeth gnashing that goes on in these kinds of discussion angler apathy is such that it is hard to see any path forward that does not result in accelerating loss of recreational salmonid fisheries.
You honestly expect less General Fund revenue to resolve issues like this? Yes, the Dept needs to evolve and modernize, but that takes more resources and support, not less.
I would like to see barb checking stations set up like DUI check-points on the single barbless fisheries. Those would likely be pretty profitable for the state.
I would like to see a check point or an angler/boat check of any kind.
I moved here 12 years ago, from Montana. In that 12 years I have never been approached by a WDFW officer. In Montana I cannot count the number of times a Game Officer would approach us at the ramp, or while on the water to check for, licenses, flotation devices, etc
What I have seen in the 12 years I have been here are snaggers, and nets with dead fish which have floated to the surface, both on numerous occasions. Around town I constantly hear people talking/bragging about keeping fish out of season, no such thing as a limit, and its their god given right to fish and hunt as they please.
As much as I love living out here, I feel the need to move. Hey trout on the dry fly are a blast!
Whether WDFW needs more money is debatable IMO. Here's why: WDFW's fish program has 82 fish hatcheries, and 72.8% of the hatchery budget is spent on anadromous fish, steelhead and salmon, salmon mostly. So WDFW takes taxpayer money (GF) and license money to raise salmon to mostly be caught in Canada, and of the few salmon that return to WA, more go to non-treaty commercial fishermen and treaty commercial fishing - groups who contribute the least $$ to WDFW - and a paltry few salmon to recreational anglers - the group that contributes far and away more $$ via taxes and licenses and fees. WDFW's business model is based on 1950s fisheries, not 21st century reality.
WDFW should perform an audit of each of its hatcheries and measure its costs against its benefits, lining out the specific benefits by constituency, and then calculating estimates of the respective $$ contributions to agency funding by constituency. I think you can see with this goes: non-treaty commercials and treaty fishers contribute exceedingly little, yet get the most, and recreational anglers contribute the most and receive the least. Then act on the conclusions of the audit and close the hatcheries that deliver the fewest fish to the recreational fisheries. And yes, I fully understand the legal rights of treaty fishers to take fish, but until adjudicated, there is no legal obligation for WA taxpayers to raise salmon for those fisheries.