Sky Steelhead

JayB

Active Member
Salmo- thanks for the in-depth, factual intel as always.

Just to establish that I may not be entirely hallucinating about the potential correlation between seal populations and forage fish abundance, here's the first hit from a Google search:


Also - anyone who is interested in making use of the vanishingly rare sport/tribal/commercial overlap in reducing seal abundance should follow the "Pacific Balance Marine Management" Facebook Page. Their mission is to restore a tribal/first-nations seal and sea lion hunt, and develop a commercial market for the meat, hides, and bones. As far as I can tell, Thomas Sewid, who I believe lives part of the year in Kent (?) but has an affiliation/ancestry associated BC tribe is pretty much single-handedly leading the charge to get a first-nations hunt authorized by the DFO.

It's a long shot, but if sport fishermen show that they are willing to support the resumption of a tribal hunt for seals and sea lions in Washington, there's at least a slim possibility that it could build at least a sliver of good will between the tribes and sport-fishermen that could be helpful for promoting conservation initiatives in the future.

 

skyrise

Active Member
A further remark regarding habitat restoration projects in the Puget Sound region particularly: Restoration projects really kicked off in 1998 with the proposed ESA listing of Puget Sound Chinook salmon. Since that time, the ratio has remained fairly steady, that for every habitat improvement or restoration project that is undertaken, local, state, and federal agencies approve 9 or 10 habitat "degradation" projects. Of course, that's not what they are called, but when one examines the thousands of permit applications that come through DOE, WDFW, NMFS, and the Corps of Engineers every year, that's what those projects do. In smaller to larger measures, nearly every project requiring a permit degrades anadromous fish habitat to some extent. With a 9:1 degradation to improvement ratio, nearly anyone can see that salmon and steelhead recovery is a decidedly uphill struggle that the fish are not winning.
This does not take Rocket Science. just drive on any road next to water in the lower snohomish area and you can see the results. the Weyerhuaser property has been graded and is being used full time again. Everett is building appartments as fast as they can right next to the river. the list goes on and on. but oh how they love to plaster the papers and internet about the tiny little esturay projects. but hey dont look behind the curtain nothing to see back there. its all about the Money folks. Everett and Snohomish county dont give a rat crap about the river or the fish that live in there. hey maybe they will send out another form asking us our opinions again? just like they paid attention to one 15 years ago. Right !
 

ChrisC

Active Member
This does not take Rocket Science. just drive on any road next to water in the lower snohomish area and you can see the results. the Weyerhuaser property has been graded and is being used full time again. Everett is building appartments as fast as they can right next to the river. the list goes on and on. but oh how they love to plaster the papers and internet about the tiny little esturay projects. but hey dont look behind the curtain nothing to see back there. its all about the Money folks. Everett and Snohomish county dont give a rat crap about the river or the fish that live in there. hey maybe they will send out another form asking us our opinions again? just like they paid attention to one 15 years ago. Right !
Spot on. Having visited the Gaspe Peninsula, Quebec, one of the strongholds for Atlantic Salmon in North America, the salmon runs are much more healthy and stable because there's generally little to no development in the floodplains and estuaries. They have remained largely intact in contrast to what we have all along the West Coast.
 

kamishak steve

Active Member
Correlation isn't causation, but if you did a least squares regression plotting the collapse of the forage fish vs the seal/sea-lion population I suspect that you'd get a reasonably tight fit. You could probably also plot cubic yards of beauty bark or cases of disposable diapers sold in Washington state and get an equally tight fit, but I can't help but wonder if the pinniped population rising to levels that probably equal or exceed those existing at the time of the Lewis and Clark expedition isn't having a significant impact on anything that's edible in the Puget Sound.

It's not a popular idea, but in keeping with the idea that desperate times require desperate measures, I wonder if restoring a tribal cull/hunt of seals and sea-lions to reduce their population in the sound and especially in migratory choke-points in the Columbia system is an example of one area where sport, commercial, and tribal interests naturally overlap.

I'm not sure that the tribes are particularly anxious to resume hunting seals and sea-lions, because they'll be the last ones to feel the impact of any additional fishing restrictions, and being observed killing these animals would potentially do much more costly damage to their politically valuable image as stewards of the ecosystem living in perfect harmony with nature than any additional catch would be worth - but they're the only group that has the political standing required to do such a thing.
Pinniped populations are likely higher now than they have ever been. Indigenous peoples hunted pinnipeds as long as they have existed on the North American continent, and archaeological evidence seems to suggest that early colonizers of NA were more likely boat bound in search of marine mammals than overland pursuers of caribou over 12k years ago. I am all for a pinniped cull.
Let's not pretend, however, that the slow and steady increase in pinnipeds is the real culprit here... Habitat degradation, poor ocean conditions, commercial by-catch, and over harvest of the pinniped usual food sources (groundfish, herring, etc) has turned this adaptive predator to steelhead.
 

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