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bushwhacker
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Parker, unless you're speaking specifically about non-tribal commercial netting in Willapa Bay and off-channel areas of the lower Columbia River, you're smarter than this.

May want to target that meme at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Congress, Associated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, or National Congress of American Indians. All could influence this matter, and some (BIA and Congress) could actually "ban gillnets" (albeit surely after years of legal wrangling).

WDFW, and the state of Washington from which it derives its authority, cannot regulate the fishing methods of sovereign tribal nations.

Though the Dept could, and absolutely should, start showing a hell of a lot more backbone in negotiating for our 50% of the allowable harvest and demanding approved fisheries plans and credible catch recording for all co-manager fisheries...
 

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Tights Lines
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Parker, unless you're speaking specifically about non-tribal commercial netting in Willapa Bay and off-channel areas of the lower Columbia River, you're smarter than this.

May want to target that meme at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Congress, Associated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, or National Congress of American Indians. All could influence this matter, and some (BIA and Congress) could actually "ban gillnets" (albeit surely after years of legal wrangling).

WDFW, and the state of Washington from which it derives its authority, cannot regulate the fishing methods of sovereign tribal nations.

Though the Dept could, and absolutely should, start showing a hell of a lot more backbone in negotiating for our 50% of the allowable harvest and demanding approved fisheries plans and credible catch recording for all co-manager fisheries...
Great insight Chase! It has to start somewhere and if WDFW and the State got behind it I'm sure everyone you mentioned would start taking notice.



Maybe this is more appropriate. I will admit I'm not as informed on the lay of the land as you are, but it's concerning that gill nets are still allowed in 2016, especially in fisheries with ESA listed fish. Congress has bigger fish to fry unfortunately but a number of things need to change, and responsible harvest is one of them.

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Powerbait Entomologist
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This is something I talked about a couple months ago on another forum. Please keep in mind, this is coming from an angler and not a politician or someone who understands the workings of the law behind this :

"So here's something I've been toying around with for a little while. I feel like the recreational fishermen and women of the state have been getting the short end of the stick but the long end of the shaft lately. Especially anywhere above the Columbia. I know a lot of people feel this way, and may are upset with our whole situation here. It's gonna be a read, sorry in advance

I should count myself as one of them. Not so much on the closures in general, but because of the politics behind the closures and really with a lot of what has been going on lately around here.

The WFC hatchery suit was an interesting one. It got huge amounts of ridicule from the angling community and beyond, and now, with NOAA passing a new series of referendums (or something like that- I'm no politician) that call for provisions to open the hatcheries under certain guidelines (namely registering/clearing their programs with the ESA or something). That may or may not get passed this year, we'll have to see. If it doesn't, the future of hatcheries looks sort of bleak up here.

But, this whole lawsuit thing has given me an idea. I don't have the means to do this obviously, but there are people out there who may... I want to here everyone's thoughts on this.

Gillnets. No recreational fisherman in their right mind likes them or the thought of them. Upon hearing the word gillnet, every fisherman shakes his head and scowls as if a dirty elephant just walked through their living room.

We all know that non-selective fisheries such as gillnets have a sh*tty by-catch aspect that kills unwanted fish. Native steelhead, other salmon, trout, whatever... and there is a certain bASStardization that occurs with gillnetters abusing their "privilege" to damage our rivers, sometimes just by leaving the nets in because they're too lazy to take them out. I've seen it, y'all. Many of us have seen worse. Up here in B'ham, the local tribes (Lummi and Nooksack) have been given the nicknames Skummies and Nutsacks. Now, that's deplorable, and I don't endorse the use of those terms, and don't agree with the viewpoint that the Natives are the bad guys here. Obviously though, there is some gasoline that's fueling the flame, so to speak. We wouldn't have the issue if there wasn't something wrong with it to begin with. Again, I'm just pointing to evidence, not endorsing the bashing of the tribes.

But, gillnets. That's a practice that is quite deplorable in of itself. And here, after a rant, is where my idea finally culminates.

The evidence is out there. Hell, we could conduct a scientific survey and follow gillnetters throughout the year and measure unwanted bycatch amongst other things... derelict nets, dead fish...etc. That's all quantitative stuff that can be measured. C'mon, y'all, we all know there are ways of harvesting fish commercially that don't result in near-ensured death of whatever gets trapped in the nets.

So, if such a study were to be done, a lawsuit could then go out against the use of gillnets by the tribes, using almost the same rhetoric that the WFC lawsuit used: The targeting of salmon and steelhead in gillnet fisheries leads to a reduction in Wild fish stocks amongst Salmon, Trout, and our beloved Wild (and endangered...) Steelhead. That sounds like a reasonable thing to pursue. However, I'm not sure how the nation sovereignty thing works... if someone like the WDFW could even sue the tribes.

Even after all this, and the tribes acknowledge that the nets are harmful, they could point to their cultural heritage. That's important as well. However, in this day and age, we have seen that some practices just aren't used any more because they are outdated and there are better ways to do said practice.

To quote John Oliver from Last Week Tonight (Prisons)

From an America Tonight Exclusive: "Sugar was used to treat wounds before the advent of antibiotics back in the early 1900's." John Oliver: "Yeah, but then we all decided that it was no longer an acceptable medical practice, like curing a child's cough with heroin."

Okay, a little off topic, maybe... but I hope you get my point. Collectively, we can see that nets are a damaging entity. Maybe it's time to take action instead of threatening to dump hay bales in front of the nets and shooting boats. Obviously that's a little hypocritical seeing that I've been typing this up for the past half hour or so behind a keyboard, but whatever. (Also I'm not a lawyer or an interest group, so I can't really do much.)

Just my two cents. Sorry for the rant-read-whatever it is. Controversial, maybe as well. But it's on my mind I have nothing but the best intentions for the sake of our fisheries and the fish themselves. If you think I'm wrong, let me know. I'm trying to become as educated as I can on the matter.

Give it to 'em.
Ian"

-Edited version of the original by myself
 
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Tights Lines
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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Even after all this, and the tribes acknowledge that the nets are harmful, they could point to their cultural heritage.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the cultural heritage/historical fishing rights were established before boats had motors, and before most of the materials and fishing equipment being used was invented. Modernity has completely changed the game and in effect outdated these treaties. I am no racist or bigot, but I do not agree with outdated treaties which are not relevant to modern times. In my opinion if you are going to argue that you have historical fishing rights then you better damn sure be using historical means to exercise them! Canoes, Paddles, homemade nets from natural materials, etc. Pretty sure plastic buoys used on the tops of gill nets didn't exist either.

 

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bushwhacker
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Parker to your comment, in short that is not how the Boldt Decision has been interpreted, either by Judge Boldt in 1974, or by tribal fisheries managers and their federal overseers up to today. Hence the jet sleds working monofilament nets.

It would face opposition from both the tribes and commercial fishers, but an extremely well-strategized and well-funded professional advocacy campaign might have a shot at passing a citizens initiative. That wouldn't actually regulate tribal gill netting, but could be used to build public awareness and attempt to sway the federal agencies to enact or congress to pass regulations requiring a change of tribal harvest practices to selective methods only, perhaps purse seine, reef netting or hook and line only. It would be at least a three step process, and just passing such policy in Washington state wouldn't get your desired outcome, you'd also have to go through the courts and the feds and then the courts again.

I've worked on several statewide policy efforts of a smaller scale. $10 million might get you started, but you'd still lose, likely at the state level, and almost surely at the federal and court levels.

A much better approach in my opinion, if a long and often frustrating one, would be to work with the co-managers, the federal agencies, and WDFW to overhaul Boldt's outdated focus on harvest-oriented fisheries management, a model that focuses on extraction rather than conservation and in my opinion is not compatible with the realities of our salmon and steelhead runs today. An only slightly less challenging endeavor. Though perhaps one with more long term benefits than continuing to fight with the tribes and the feds over who got their 50% of the resource and who didn't until we're cutting the last fish in half.

And don't forget habitat. We can moan about gillnets all we want, but because of Boldt and the tribes, culverts and fish passage barriers are coming out across the Northwest. And millions of dollars are being invested in habitat improvements that wouldn't be available without tribal partnerships. This coin has far more than one side.
 

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Tights Lines
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Parker to your comment, in short that is not how the Boldt Decision has been interpreted, either by Judge Boldt in 1974, or by tribal fisheries managers and their federal overseers up to today. Hence the jet sleds working monofilament nets.

It would face opposition from both the tribes and commercial fishers, but an extremely well-strategized and well-funded professional advocacy campaign might have a shot at passing a citizens initiative. That wouldn't actually regulate tribal gill netting, but could be used to build public awareness and attempt to sway the federal agencies to enact or congress to pass regulations requiring a change of tribal harvest practices to non-selective methods only, perhaps purse seine or reef netting or hook and line only. It would be at least a three step process, and just passing such policy in Washington state wouldn't get your desired outcome implemented, you'd have to go through the courts and the feds and then the courts again.

I've worked on several statewide policy efforts of a smaller scale. $10 million might get you started, but you'd still lose, likely at the state level, and almost surely at the federal and court levels.

A much better approach in my opinion, if a long and often frustrating one, would be to work with the co-managers, the federal agencies, and WDFW to overhaul Boldt's outdated focus on harvest-oriented fisheries management, a model that focuses on extraction rather than conservation and in my opinion is not compatible with the realities of our salmon and steelhead runs today. An only slightly less challenging endeavor. Though perhaps one with more long term benefits than continuing to fight with the tribes and the feds over who got their 50% of the resource and who didn't until we're cutting the last fish in half.

And don't forget habitat. We can moan about gillnets all we want, but because of Boldt and the tribes, culverts and fish passage barriers are coming out across the Northwest. And millions of dollars are being invested in habitat improvements that wouldn't be available without tribal partnerships. This coin has far more than one side.
More great insight Chase! Thanks for the knowledge drop. All good stuff, and some good is better than none. I completely agree. We need to keep things moving in the right direction. On a similar but different note, what is your take on the current marine mammal populations and their impact on fish numbers?
 

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but the cultural heritage/historical fishing rights were established before boats had motors, and before most of the materials and fishing equipment being used was invented. Modernity has completely changed the game and in effect outdated these treaties. I am no racist or bigot, but I do not agree with outdated treaties which are not relevant to modern times. In my opinion if you are going to argue that you have historical fishing rights then you better damn sure be using historical means to exercise them! Canoes, Paddles, homemade nets from natural materials, etc. Pretty sure plastic buoys used on the tops of gill nets didn't exist either.

Will you use only gear that was invented before 1855?
 

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Fish traps were used historically. They can exterminate a run in one year because they can get them all.

Careful what you wish for!
They are also selective. With a trap you can selectively harvest those fish that are not endangered and release the rest unharmed.

The main issue with placing a fish trap today is it would never pass an environmental impact test.
 

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bushwhacker
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On a similar but different note, what is your take on the current marine mammal populations and their impact on fish numbers?
I'm a policy and comms guy, not a scientist, so others may have far more expertise.

I do think other factors have much larger influences on salmon and steelhead returns in Puget Sound. A possible exception is around the Hood Canal Bridge, but there predation seems to be a factor of an environmental change from the bridge itself. I'd put it pretty far down the list of things to focus on in the PS Basin.

I think it's a different situation in the Big C, even if that's in some ways due to a man-made environmental change too (dams). I absolutely support efforts to allow tribes and federal agencies to cull sea lions and cormorants, terns, and gulls when deemed appropriate in the lower Columbia. Considering what we are spending on fish restoration in that system, the value of those fish to people and communities across the region, the healthy status of marine mammal and common fish-eating bird populations in the Pacific Northwest, and the impact both are having on out-migrating smolts and returning adults, that situation definitely warrants active management in my opinion.
 

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Powerbait Entomologist
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There is too much to do, to much politics involved, and not enough money to accomplish everything.

Removing gill nets isn't going to magically bring our salmon runs to historic levels. It's simply one area of concern that certainly has an effect on the returns due to kill rate and lack of diligence... and also limits recreational fishing for everyone else. Nobody wants to have to maneuver their boat amongst gill nets and settle for a massive if not sometimes complete elimination of fishing in certain sections of rivers on certain days.

If one talks about restoring fish runs, it starts with habitat improvement: Reducing streamside erosion caused by logging, construction, etc... planting trees, creating engineered culverts/ blockages that create fish habitat... etc.....
Of course, that goes really nowhere for anadromous species if our ocean continues to fry and there isn't enough forage to sustain a healthy population.
A major reason for the Stilly's rapid decline of wild fish to sad, sad numbers is loss of habitat; bank erosion made the river shallower, warmer, dirtier... etc.
 

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Chris, I'm not the one claiming it's my birth right to take 50% of the fish
Before we got here they had it all. We signed a treaty with them saying in exchange for all the land they could fish "In Common" with the citizen of the state. So we got all the land and half the fish, we got the better end of the deal.
 

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Being opposed to banning gillnets is stupid. All gill nets tribal commercial or any other kind.
There is no legitimate reason for being pro-gillnet.
It's not a matter of being Pro or Anti gill net, it's a matter of realizing what you can and cannot control. All the internet posturing in the world will not change the fact that the Point Elliot treaty tribes use gill nets.
 
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It's not a matter of being Pro or Anti gill net, it's a matter of realizing what you can and cannot control. All the internet posturing in the world will not change the fact that the Point Elliot treaty tribe use gill nets.
That's fine but we should be allowed to speak honestly about it.
Anyone who would put a gill net in the water has no interest in the future of Pacific salmon runs.
 

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That's fine but we should be allowed to speak honestly about it.
Fair enough Rob, you should speak your mind. Here is what I think: It is rich indeed the we the "European Settlers" destroy or nearly so, the salmon and steel head runs of the region, and then wag a moralistic finger at the tribes for using gill nets.
 
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Make my day
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Fair enough Rob, you should speak your mind. Here is what I think: It is rich indeed the we the "European Settlers" destroy or nearly so, the salmon and steel head runs of the region, and then wag a moralistic finger at the tribes for using gill nets.
Two wrongs don't.........
 
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