I was asked to post the E mail from Chad Herring so folks would know what is going on. Then this, no the public was not advised of this, yes the Willapa Adviser were advised of this. Do I think the run size of Coho is 400% to 500% larger than the preseason forecast .............. ah nope but it was early just as Grays Harbor was. From what I know I think the coast fish came in early and will end up above forecast. This move by WDFW in Willapa is all about getting the nets back in the water, period. Not about conservation or rec just getting more commercial time by manipulating the models.
From Mr. Herring,
In regards to the status of fisheries, the marine recreational fishery has performed below preseason predictions in terms of catch and impacts. The commercial fishery which began after Labor Day exceeded expectations for the harvest of coho and impacts to unmarked Chinook while the harvest of hatchery Chinook came in below expectation in the first week. As was discussed in my email to the advisory group on September 9, changes were made to the commercial fishery schedule in an effort to reduce the number of unmarked Chinook impacts to preserve fishery opportunity for directed coho fishing throughout the remainder of the season. Preseason planned commercial fishing openers were cancelled and remaining openers in the first couple weeks of the fishery were changed from small mesh gillnet as the allowable gear type to tangle net gear as tangle nets have a lower release mortality. Since those changes took effect, the marine fisheries are currently still within the preseason predicted number of unmarked Chinook impacts to attain the conservation objective of a 14% impact rate cap to natural origin Willapa River and Naselle River Chinook. The harvest of coho, both hatchery and natural origin, in the commercial fishery has far exceeded preseason predictions.
As has been discussed with the group before, the Department does not currently have the ability to update Chinook runsize in-season but does have a tool to evaluate the runsize of coho in-season. This in-season update model (ISU) has been employed in previous years and is based on catch per unit effort in commercial fisheries. The ISU begins to become statistically significant in statistical week 38 (Sept 13 – 19) and that significance improves as more data points are added through time. We are currently in stat week 39 (Sept 20 – 26). Utilizing the data collected to date the ISU model predicts a natural origin coho runsize between 69,656 fish to 35,788 fish. This prediction is much higher than the preseason forecasted runsize of 16,074 natural origin coho.
Given the information described above, more detailed numbers will be provided to the group and the distribution list as soon as regional staff finish the update materials, the Department would like to gather some input on possible in-season management actions. As currently there are remaining unmarked Chinook impacts available and larger run of coho than predicted preseason, the Department would like to hear thoughts on adjustments to both commercial and recreational fisheries moving forward. Since, commercial fisheries lost opportunity early in the season to conserve unmarked Chinook impacts and with minimal Chinook impacts likely to occur in successive weeks coupled with the predicted increased harvest potential of hatchery coho, commercial fishery opportunity in stat week 40 (Sept 27 – Oct 3) could be increased from 2 days (Mon. and Thur.) to 3 days (Mon., Wed., and Fri.). Preseason recreational freshwater fisheries were scheduled to be mark selective for coho given the low forecasted runsize. This was planned due to the harvest priority of coho in Policy C-3622 to commercial fishers and the limited numbers of available natural origin coho to achieve the management objective of providing for an spawning escapement of at least 13,600 natural origin coho. With the ISU model predicting a much higher number of returning adult natural origin coho and evaluation of recent years harvest estimates of natural origin (2015 – 2018 Catch Record Card average estimate of 1,006 fish), discussion should be had about eliminating the mark selective component of the preseason fishery plan and opening areas that were planned to be closed preseason due to the lack of available hatchery coho. Regional staff are currently working on a Willapa Bay terminal Area Management Model (WB TAMM) that incorporates harvest/impacts accrued to date and the fishery adjustments described above. Preliminary indications from that modeling work suggest that preseason management objectives would still be attained for all three species, Chinook (14% impact rate cap), coho (13,600 natural origin spawners), and chum (10% impact rate cap).
This summary is what is up for discussion with the group today at 1pm and apologize if I left out any clarifying details. Feel free to reach out to me or technical staff with any questions and the Department will absolutely consider any written comments we receive.
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in