WDFW Commission meeting Dec. 13 - 14


WFF Supporter

Commission meetings are tomorrow and Saturday in Bellingham at
Holiday Inn & Suites Bellingham
4260 Mitchell Way Bellingham, WA 98226 - Room Chuckanut

If you're anywhere close to the area, it will sure help if you attend and testify.

What to say? Simple; tell the Commission that Sportfishing Matters. Tell them WDFW needs to get to get its own ESA permit from NMFS so that the tribes won't control sportfishing on Puget Sound's tributary rivers. Ask them if they don't get, or intend to get, their own permit, how do they plan to ever have the Stillaguamish River open for gamefish during the regular season in the next 100 years? The Department owes recreational anglers an explanation of how and why the status quo piggy-backing on the tribal permit benefits sportfishers now and in the long term because it looks like the Department will just continue to close sportfishing seasons for gamefish whenever tribes insist.


WFF Supporter
My testimony on Friday, Dec. 13:

The Department wants more funding and has submitted a $26 million supplemental budget request to the Governor’s office. Recreational anglers want to fish, but you continue to close fishing seasons that are important to us. I spoke to you at your October meeting about the Director’s intent to close the Skagit steelhead season absent increased funding and the 3 ½ month closure of the Stillaguamish River under the guise of Chinook conservation when the real reason was the tribal objection to sport fishing that might affect Chinook. And you already have this Stillaguamish closure included in your 2020 regulations that go through June 30, 2020.

This last spring you closed most of the Chehalis River system to all sport fishing because of a forecasted low return of spring Chinook, although low returns are and have been typical for that basin. In an email exchange among staff at the Region 6 office about the Chehalis closure one of the biologists is quoted as saying, "If poor escapement can close a river down to all other species fishing, we are out of business." At least some folks in the Department get it. At the rate you are closing other fishing that overlaps a low salmon return and treaty tribal fishing, the anadromous fish section of the Department’s Fish Program will soon go out of business. So I have to ask, why do you need more funding?

Since 2015 you have been proving that co-management with the treaty tribes is broken. Co-management is successful only when both parties share equal power in negotiations. The Department piggy-backs on the tribal-BIA section 7 ESA permit that NMFS approves. In order to be included in this permit the Department caves to every tribal demand regarding sport fishing seasons. You aren’t working and can’t work for sport fishers unless and until you secure a discreet ESA permit instead of riding the tribal shirttail. Keep making yourselves irrelevant to anadromous sport fishing and you don’t need additional funding since the largest segment of the Washington Department of Salmon is going out of business.

Commissioners, next I’d like you to direct Director Susewind to ban the use of the terms “transparent” and “transparency” in letters and email communications with us sport fishing constituents until you actually begin walking that talk. At NOF and elsewhere use CCTV to make those closed door meetings transparent since you claim that is an agency value.

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 your constituents to sue you, causing them to spend money to fund both sides of lawsuits. This is counter-productive and antithetical to the concept of public service.

Pull back from the cliff of anadromous fish management and sport fishing irrelevance. Change is hard, but change is essential if you intend to survive and stay in business in this 21st century. Sportfishing matters.


WFF Supporter
My testimony Saturday, Dec. 14:

I want the Skagit steelhead season to continue whether you get your supplemental budget request from the Legislature 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. Director, you said you didn’t have enough money to fund monitoring of the fishery, yet you turned around a week later and found the money to fund two top tier administrative Department positions, including the one who negotiates behind closed doors with the tribes, and then comes out from those closed door meetings to announce further closures of sportfishing seasons, like the closure of the Stillaguamnish River for 3 ½ months, claiming it’s necessary for conservation when in fact it’s necessary because you have no leverage in the co-manager negotiations. And you closed the Chehalis River to all sportfishing because of low spring Chinook abundance, which are always in low abundance.

In addition to the Skagit steelhead season, don't close the Stillaguamish River again for 3 1/2 months in 2020 even though this measure is already in the regulation booklet that goes through June 30, 2020. We both know that the Chinook conservation claim was a ruse, and that the real reason is because the tribes forced it. 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 the fishery resource and us. 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.

I want this because sportfishing matters.

I also want the Chehalis River open for its normal and usual gamefish season, with the usual prohibition of targeting spring Chinook. Because sportfishing matters.

The Department claims to value transparency. If that is true, then you have some serious public relations work to do. Inform us of the benefits of secret co-management meetings that produce new sportfishing season closures, with the Department claiming it is necessary for conservation when that is flat out untrue. Inform us of the efforts the Department has made in these last four years to secure its discrete ESA permit from NMFS to escape tribal coercion. And if you’ve made no such efforts, then inform us why, and how and why having the tail wag the dog benefits sportfishing in both the near and long terms. Because sportfishing matters.

I will lobby legislators for the $2.5 million identified in the supplemental budget request for monitoring salmon and steelhead seasons – because sportfishing matters. I won’t lobby for the entire $26 million because you keep throwing sportfishing under the bus. As one of your own Region 6 staff said in a recent email string, "If poor (salmon) escapement can close a river down to all other species fishing, we are out of business." A Department that is going out of business doesn’t need increased funding. Demonstrate that sportfishing matters to you too, and I’ll once again be one of the Department’s best friends. Sportfishing matters.

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