WDFW Commission meeting Dec. 13 - 14


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I was looking at the End of Steelhead/Steelheading thread that Curt started a couple weeks ago. Mention was made of the above noted Commission meeting and a resurrection of Occupy Skagit, v. 2.0. And Wayne wisely noted, "petition the Commission for what?" This got me to thinking about what the Commission and the Department can actually do. Obviously, asking them to do something that is outside their purview or realistic ability is a waste of time. The recovery of wild steelhead populations is beyond WDFW's authority and ability. Hell, the recovery of hatchery steelhead populations is moving and may already be out of reach of recovering as well. I think we ought to begin with what we know.

First, we need a quality catchy title. Occupy Skagit is retired, and it doesn't describe what I'm currently thinking about. Consider this a solicitation for a suitable name. At the moment I'm working with the concept of "Value Sport Fishing." By that I mean fishing opportunities that are cost effective. Examples are the Skagit steelhead season that requires no hatchery component, only monitoring to maintain NMFS ESA approval. Another is sea run cutthroat fishing. WDFW raises no SRC, other than on the Cowlitz River where Tacoma Power pays all the bills. SRC provide thousands of angler days of recreation in PS marine waters and on many freshwater streams. Yakima/Naches River trout fishing is another example - no hatchery component and thousands of angler days of recreation. I'm not against fish hatcheries, but I want to make a point that the $93.7 million WDFW spends on salmon and steelhead hatcheries is a poor priority because the vast majority of that money goes down a rathole as far as recreational fishing is concerned.

For the December Commission meeting I'm thinking along these lines:

1. You say on the Department website that you value transparency. However, you meet in secret to make decisions that negatively affect recreational fishing by reducing opportunity. I want the Department to walk its talk and use CCTV to make those closed door meetings as transparent as you claim to value.

2. If you haven't already, immediately begin the process of developing a Department-specific alternative to joining the treaty tribes' BIA consultation with NMFS for ESA approval. Co-management only works when power is equally shared. The tribes have all the power under the current situation. Therefore, co-management is broken and a misnomer. The likely alternative is an ESA Section 10 Conservation Plan.

3. When constituents ask you for data, just share it with them in timely fashion. You work for us. Don't create the unnecessary expense of forcing the use of Public Disclosure Requests to see information that we already legally own. Don't force some of us to sue you, causing us to spend our money to fund both sides of lawsuits. This is counter-productive and antithetical to the concept of public service.

4. Keep the Skagit steelhead season open whether you secure supplemental budget funding or not. The Skagit fishery is more important than a multitude of other actions the Department funds that return little or no conservation or recreation, which should be your highest priorities.

5. Don't close the Stillaguamish River again for 3 1/2 months in 2020. (This is already in the regs booklet that goes through July 2020.) We both know that the Chinook conservation claim was a ruse, and that the real reason is because the tribes forced you. Stop using conservation as a reason for closing sport fishing when it isn't. You should know by now that we check up on these things. Push back. The tribes don't fund the Department, but sport fishers do, and we expect you to work for us and the fishery resource. We know that you know that it is possible to have a Stilly season for summer steelhead and sea run cutthroat with no significant adverse impact to Chinook, so do it.

That's it for now. What do we want that WDFW can deliver? And what's a catchy name or title for this OS v. 2.0?


Geriatric Skagit Swinger
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