Merry Christmas Smalma ...
No, I wouldn't expect western Washington fish to have as high a repeat as areas like Kodiak or Kamchatka where many of the fish rarely even leave the estuary. But our coastal rates for these short run streams aren't much higher than what you see out of fish making long runs to the grounds, and from what I understand, that shouldn't be the case.
I know it's easy for us to shoot loads of arrows at the state's models. But it stems from returns that have disappeared acorss the state by the hundreds.
For years, according to the state's numbers, these were healthy runs that could support harvest ... then one day, the fish were all but gone.
The sole argument with any "merit" that the state has put forth is the number of fish returning to the Quillayute system. According to the numbers, it's healthy. BUT ... what makes it such a special place that it won't fall victim to what over 90% of the state's streams have ... a basic collapse of the population.
Those in support of C&R are looking to help provide a "saftey-harness" if you will to keep this from happening.
Why have these models failed us over 90% of the time? I don't know, certainly the biologists don't know either as we would have made some adjustments that made them work.
Maybe it's a byproduct of messing with genetics (losing repeats, larger fish, harvest targeted in certain stretches of river, certain timeframes) could it be part of our problem?
It's hard to say, but obviously something is wrong. I know those of you in the state are likely hard-pressed to admit that there was a goof somewhere, but obviously there has been. I say it's time to play it safe until we figure the whole mess out!
All this talk about these big numbers brings up another issue: how much credence can we give these numbers? These spawner surveys are conducted (via US dollars) by the Quileute Tribe. Talking about having a wolf (beyond fox) guard the henhouse! Perhaps the most notoriously non-conservative managment group in the state provide the numbers. The fiasco this fall and the fact that they took many thousands of pounds of wild steelhead they couldn't sell and used them as BAIT illustrates this point. They have everything to gain in the short term by keeping numbers high and clearly their interests appear to be in short term gains rather than long term.
If there are so many more fish in the system compared to the past, why haven't we seen drastic increases in catch rates?? Doesn't make sense.
You mention snorkeling. I know there are plans for the entire system to snorkeled by an outside agency this year, so it will be very interesting to see what they find!
I suppose you can look at the survey numbers a number of different ways, but you can't change the fact that to the question of favoring statewide release that the result was 61%, another steady increase over past surveys. Perhaps we'd like to go the public testimony that was presented at the rules meetings ... over 90% in favor of statewide release with no exceptions!
The public is asking for more conservative management policies, yet it appears that the state won't listen. Perhaps it's time to have a public board have the final say on these decisions as they do in Alaska!
Seen ... on a drive to Stam's house:
"You CANNOT fix stupid!"