Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope
This posting is a letter obtained in PDR 13108 directed at the Commission in 2010. Not a lot has changed since, well they moved the NT Nets back a bit in the bay but that is all. I have blocked out the gentleman's name as a courtesy
. From: To: Commission (DFW); Subject: Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor Date: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 12:25:36 PM
I thought you might be interested in this situation.
Westport/Grayland Chamber of Commerce
I am contacting you on behalf of recreational fishers in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. Business owners should be able to support both commercial and sport fishing. They should not be bullied into making a choice. Most of the gill netters in this area are fine people. There is a very small fraction that want the sport fishers out by any means. There has been name calling and harassment on the Tokeland docks. Here is an example, a man was walking down the dock to his boat in the morning. He passed by a few gill netters standing by one of their boats. He said nothing to them but after he walked by one of them shouted "we gotta get these ---- suckers outa here". They threaten business people with the loss of their dollars if they support us in any way. My wife and I stayed a month per year in Tokeland for 18 years and spent a considerable amount of money from South Bend to Westport. We don't fish there anymore because of what I have encountered. I won't elaborate on what I have been called.
In past years, we had to struggle but both sides got a decent season at the annual salmon meetings. In 2010 the WDFW made no pretense of fairness. The sport fishing representatives that attended thought it was not a legitimate negotiation. They held private meetings with the gill netters before each of the last two meetings. Towards the end of the last meeting, one of the commercial fishers said something like, "we've wasted enough time, isn't it time to tell them how it's going to be?" Soon after his statement the DFW did just that. In recent years the gill net fishing started around mid September in Willapa Bay. In 2010 They received a so called "test fishery" with not many boats but quite a few dates. They got two full fleet openers in August just when the recreational season is beginning. They started their regular season about four days earlier than the recent average.
The DFW also required us to release all unmarked Chinook and coho. This is very frustrating, many anglers reported a 50% release rate. With Chinook, the naturally spawning and hatchery salmon are all the same stock. The native silvers that are scarce don't come in until nearly a month after the marine sport fishery is basically over. They required the gill netters to release the unmarked salmon also. Catch and release gill netting makes no sense. At the mortality rate they are assessed at, they wasted 940 kings and 9,544 silvers, then add the sport fishing mortality. This is an awful waste of food and I was told it was a disgusting sight, the dead salmon drifting down with the tide.
Westport spends a lot of money attracting us to this area. The DFW and the gill netters appear to be trying to get rid of us. The Department totally ignored the letter the Chamber sent last year. If this doesn't change there will be a constant decline in recreational fishing. I was told the South Bend launch was down about 50% last year, Tokeland was down too. Some members of the Legislature seem to have some
leverage on the DFW. You probably know a lot more about that than I do. We do not want to take over, we just want what is fair for us and for the business community. I am sending a copy to the 19th District Legislators.
On the subject of South Grays Harbor, as you know a great Chinook sport fishery has been lost. It was good for us and for you. The DFW still allows a non tribal gill net Chinook mortality and they have allowed a sport fishing Chinook mortality with a coho fishery. With Tribal fishing, I wondered if you had tried talking directly to them. This could be of interest to sport and commercial fishers also. There is also the habitat destruction in the Chehalis headwaters. I really hope we can make some progress on all these problems.
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in