Skagit Wild Steelhead CnR Fishery........Eliminated 2020

KerryS

Ignored Member
Curt gets right to the core issues with these two statements. Those in charge are more concerned with special interests than the fish and fishermen don’t care.

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.

Curt
 

ChaseBallard

bushwhacker
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.

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 guess I shouldn't be surprised given the negative responses to my March thread about the broad support for fully-funding WDFW from groups and stakeholders involved in the budget process.

This is a totally predictable move. WDFW has been warning for months: the Skagit fishery, being "new" and reopened after the zero-sum budget exercise and audit mandated by the legislature in 2017-18, was always on the list of cuts if the Department did not receive additional revenue during the 2019 legislative session.

While their deficit was reduced this past session, they still got far less than what was needed just to fill the budget hole and zero of the requested additional revenue for increased opportunities and conservation programs. They're now looking at a $20 million deficit.

Who's to blame? There's plenty to go around, but those who opposed WDFW funding out of spite (understandable, but ignorant) and shortsighted groups like CCA that blew up the funding package over local issues (righteous as they may have been on the Columbia) should be looking inward.

Hopefully we can show up with a more united front in 2020. And WDFW can find a few poor tech jobs to cut elsewhere to save this fishery.
 
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ChaseBallard

bushwhacker
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.

Curt
Some good thoughts here. Biting the hand that feeds is only making the issues worse, and both creativity and pragmatism are badly needed.

The Budget and Policy Advisory Group (BPAG) is where these discussions are taking place, maybe some OS leaders should get involved there.
 

Charles Sullivan

Active Member
WDFW is in a tough spot. They are to blame for declining runs according to most people. People want retribution.

I think that hey are amongst the least responsible for declines, but no one seems to understand the roles that other agencies and more so private interests play in habitat loss. Farming and logging are the 2 greatest reasons for declining runs. No one is blaming the DNR and diking districts. Instead we will try and get our pound of flesh from WDFW to our own detriment.

For this reason, I wince anytime that someone goes on about their love for Bill McMillan or old man Loomis or WFC. They have helped create the hate for WDFW that almost always misses the mark as I see it.

Go Sox,
cds
 

ChaseBallard

bushwhacker
Wild Steelhead Coalition response to the potential Skagit closure due to WDFW budget cuts: http://wildsteelheadcoalition.org/2...-skagit-steelhead-fishery-may-be-cut-in-2020/

We're hoping some media attention might help show the Dept and Commission that this fishery should be a priority. OS folks might consider contacting anyone who covered the movement.

Also, some more optimistic talk from the last commission meeting, though it's clear many commissioners don't understand the history or prominence of this fishery, and why it should be prioritized (starts around 10 minutes): https://wdfw.wa.gov/sites/default/files/about/commission/meetings/2019/05/audio/20190531_f.mp3
 

Stonefish

Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
I'd love to see both WDFW and the state parks fully funded again, but I doubt I ever will again in my lifetime.
The way this state is run now from a budget standpoint, WDFW and the state parks are always going to take a back seat in the budget compared to funding other programs.
Fishing, hunting and recreation just don't move the meter much if at all with those making the decisions.
SF
 

Salmo_g

WFF Supporter
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.

Chase,

As I look into WDFW's anadromous fish section of the Department's "Fish Program," I see an agency running headlong over the cliff of irrelevance. I fear that the Department's need is to far more than modernize, but to revamp to operate functionally in this 21st century. And from the outside it looks like the Department isn't even aware how bass ackwards it is.

WDFW erred badly from the get go when the Legislature began reducing GF appropriations over 10 years ago. The reduction in GF is a de facto signal from the Legislature that it wants reduced function and delivery of goods and services. The strategic bureaucratic move then and each time thereafter that the GF appropriation was reduced would have been for the Department to close a salmon hatchery, preferably one in the district of a Senator on the Natural Resource Committee and Ways & Means Committees who voted for the reduction. That is how politics is played.

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.

I think that until WDFW chooses to not bite the hand that feeds it, it needs to feel the fiscal effects of some "tough love" via budget slashing. It comes down to making choices, and presently I'm not liking the choices WDFW is making when it comes to opposing open government, closing the Stilly for imaginary Chinook conservation, and closing a low-cost, high benefit fishery like the Skagit steelhead season. The bubble I'm in is not completely thought out, but it is far more thorough than the bubble WDFW remains in.

BTW, I appreciated what the Commissioners, particularly Carpenter, had to say about this matter in the link recording you posted.
 

1morecast

Active Member
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!
 

Lakota

Active Member
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!

I've experienced the same thing. I moved here from Michigan 6years ago. In MI, I was getting checked a few times per year and I would frequently run into CO's decked out in camo trying to catch snaggers in the act.
 

ChaseBallard

bushwhacker
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.

As I tried to make clear in the March thread, I don't disagree with where you're coming from, or the ideals you're professing. I'd love to see far more efficient hatchery spending, with more of those resources going to habitat restoration, wild fish recovery, and self-sustaining fisheries.

And I find it bordering on ridiculous that the Capital budget (which you seem to be referring to) received increased funding this past session ostensibly to feed orcas more hatchery salmon, while the Operating budget (where the rubber hits the road for fishing opportunities, staff, enforcement, conservation programs, etc.) was starved to the tune of $21 million in the red.

But frankly, the sea change you're calling for is not how Olympia works. That kind of paradigm shift, however righteous, is not going to happen overnight, or without more resources and support for the Department, including those who are trying to improve it from within.

If we can't unite in accepting that reality, and would rather continue to starve the agency in hopes of realizing our disparate visions of change, we should expect more cuts and lost opportunities, certainly not "new" fisheries like a reopened Skagit.
 

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