Another lawsuit (intent to file)

Bones

Active Member
It doesn't matter what any of us "believe". There is science and there is speculation. I'll stick with science.
Hi Jon,

Would you agree that forecasting a run is part speculation, based on best available data?

One of the challenges of fisheries management is the complexity of the science, not in understanding it but in modeling, due to variables that are hard to quantify.

This inherently leads to differences in how management practices are prioritized and executed and is a fair conversation.
 

fishbadger

Active Member
I agree that hatcheries or broodstock programs can have a negative impact on wild steelhead runs. Being human and living in WA has a negative impact on wild steelhead.

I do not agree that hatcheries and broodstock programs are so negative in their impact that they are the limiting factor in wild steelhead recovery and should be completely stopped.

I do agree that the .org from the link, has successfully eliminated the next generation of steelhead advocates by using a singular, idealistic approach, to wild steelhead recovery.

I do blame WDFW for not having their permits in order and opening themselves to litigation.
Alright, if I were to actually have a productive contribution to this thread, it would have basically read like this one. Nicely put,
fb
 

Smalma

Active Member
While I have experience many awesome days on a steelhead river with some remarkable fish.

That said I have had the same goal for more than 25 years and have failed miserably at achieving it! That goal/hope was that my grandkids would have the chance to experience the wonder and awe that steelhead inspired in me. In Washington we collectively have failed those generations of future anglers.

Curt
 

JayB

Active Member
Here's some text from the WFC site describing the lawsuit in italics, and the response I left on the WFC's page below it. Please let me know if there's anything in my response that I should correct. If anyone else wants to chime in on their Facebook page you can do so here:


"Since October 2019, WDFW has prevented at least 52 wild summer steelhead from reproducing naturally in the Skykomish River. These fish were captured in the South Fork Skykomish River near Index, Washington, and transported by truck to the Reiter Ponds Hatchery Facility. There, the steelhead were held in captivity for weeks to months before WDFW removed their eggs and sperm to initiate a new summer steelhead hatchery program; in the process killing at least 30 wild summer steelhead, many of which were likely protected under the ESA. The Department of Fish and Wildlife is currently holding 36 adult wild summer steelhead in the Reiter Ponds facility, with the intent to take their eggs and sperm in the coming months.

According to the ESA, the actions WDFW has taken to initiate this new hatchery steelhead program require a federally-approved permit that describes the proposed hatchery program in detail, including a justification of the need for the program, details on the program risks to and negative effects on wild fish that are protected under the ESA, and the measures that will be taken to protect ESA-listed fish from hatchery impacts. Before this new hatchery program can receive the necessary authorization to proceed in compliance with the ESA, the HGMP must be reviewed, revised if necessary, and approved by the federal government. Subsequent review and approval is then required under the National Environmental Policy Act and the State Environmental Policy Act. As yet, none of this has occurred for WDFW’s new hatchery program in the Skykomish River which began mining the depressed wild steelhead population in 2019.

The Wild Fish Conservancy intends to file suit for violations of Section 9 of the ESA, which prohibits the take of endangered and threatened species. In today’s notice letter, the organization encourages WDFW to reach out before the expiration of the 60-day period to discuss how to timely eliminate the ongoing threat to ESA-listed Puget Sound steelhead posed by this new, unpermitted hatchery program."


Doesn't the most up-to-date genetic analysis of steelhead trapped at the base of Sunset falls suggest that virtually all of these fish are of Skamania stock originating from Reiter hatchery rather than wild-origin stocks such as those that spawn in the NF of the Skykomish? Unless the data reported in the literature are false, doesn't this negate the WFC's claim that the WDFW is in violation of section 9 of the ESA since the fish being harvested to initiate this broodstock program aren't actually wild?

"Evaluation of natural‐origin, hatchery‐origin, and unmarked steelhead Oncorhynchus mykiss from the Skykomish River drainage basin, Washington, was conducted to determine the source of unmarked steelhead that return to Sunset Falls (South Fork Skykomish River). One possible source is the large number of steelhead stocked into the Skykomish River basin from Reiter Ponds Hatchery; this hatchery stock was founded with fish from Skamania Hatchery in the Washougal River system, Washington. A microsatellite DNA analysis of 10 loci was used to evaluate unmarked samples in comparison with natural‐origin samples from the North Fork Skykomish River and hatchery‐origin samples from Reiter Ponds Hatchery. Results of the analyses provide evidence that the unmarked steelhead collected at Sunset Falls are more closely related to Reiter Ponds Hatchery fish than to natural‐origin fish from the North Fork Skykomish River. There is evidence that unmarked steelhead at Sunset Falls are also mixing with natural‐origin North Fork Skykomish River fish but to a lesser degree than with Reiter Ponds Hatchery fish. This study documents that Skamania Hatchery‐origin steelhead have naturally produced offspring that are returning to spawn in a northern Puget Sound river basin."
https://afspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/.../10.../T07-115.1

If the real goal is to prevent the harvest of steelhead that are genetically wild - rather than indiscriminately shutting down all hatchery production of steelhead on the Skykomish - why not conduct rapid genotyping of the trapped fish to insure that no wild fish are harvested as part of the WDFW program?

Of all of the threats to wild-steelhead survival - the most salient of which seems to be poor marine survival during outbound smolt migration through estuaries and the Salish Sea - it's difficult to understand the WFC's emphasis on the WDFW's broodstock program rather than these other threats, particularly when it comes with the threat of alienating and ultimately completely demoralizing the sportfishing community to the point of complete disengagement?

Like it or not fishermen - particularly steelhead fishermen constitute the most dedicated and influential constituency for the preservation of steelhead and the habitats that they rely on, and any effort to preserve wild steelhead that either doesn't involve them or needlessly antagonizes them is very unlikely to succeed.
 

O' Clarkii Stomias

Active Member
Of all of the threats to wild-steelhead survival - the most salient of which seems to be poor marine survival during outbound smolt migration through estuaries and the Salish Sea - it's difficult to understand the WFC's emphasis on the WDFW's broodstock program rather than these other threats,
The answer is simple. It is far easier to name WDFW as a litigant, than to actually identify the groups that affect smolt migration, and to sue them. Bottom line, a government agency such as WDFW is an easy target with relatively deep pockets. Low hanging fruit as it were.
 

bconrad

Active Member
Am I missing something here? Lots of discussion about the pros and cons of hatcheries but other than the post above that pastes the text of the complaint there is no conversation about the material complaint of the lawsuit. That being that WDFW trapped a bunch of wild steelhead without a permit and took them to Reiter to harvest the eggs.

I'm all for fishing opportunity but assuming this is accurate, the WDFW killed a bunch of wild steelhead for an ad hoc broodstock program with no environmental review or permit. Are we ok with that?
 

Bones

Active Member
Am I missing something here? Lots of discussion about the pros and cons of hatcheries but other than the post above that pastes the text of the complaint there is no conversation about the material complaint of the lawsuit. That being that WDFW trapped a bunch of wild steelhead without a permit and took them to Reiter to harvest the eggs.

I'm all for fishing opportunity but assuming this is accurate, the WDFW killed a bunch of wild steelhead for an ad hoc broodstock program with no environmental review or permit. Are we ok with that?
Yes, yes you are.
 

bconrad

Active Member
Yes, yes you are.
Care to explain it for me? I've read the complaint and while I don't agree with it, I also don't think that the WDFW should be able to trap and kill wild fish *edit* "without a permit". So what is it? Ok for the WDFW to do what they're doing? The fish aren't actually "wild" so who cares? I'm not just lobbing shit out there, I'd like to understand this lawsuit better.
 

JayB

Active Member
Given the fact that it'd be almost trivially easy to conduct rapid genotypying of the fish captured at the base of the falls, retain Skamania-origin fish for use in the broodstock program, and divert the handful of wild Skykomish-origin fish into the NF to limit stock admixture above the falls. Win-win.

The fact that A) the WFC presumably knows how few fish caught in the trap are actually wild-origin, and B) hasn't proposed something obvious like test-and-divert makes me think that the actual goal here is to eliminate hatchery production of any type on the Sky and this ESA claim is just a convenient pretext.
 

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