Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope
The link is to a number of documents created by the Advocacy commenting on the proposed Willapa CR 102 Commercial non treaty net seasons. The models are best viewed after down loading as they are basically reassembled so one better understand them. https://drive.google.com/#folders/0B2tWjgmgVy3yOVZoZzhjV0lVRXc
The letter below is to the Commission from the guys basically calling Bullsheet on Region 6 Willapa process and links to documents are in it also. This is a bit of reading but if you take the time to read the letter to the Commission and the CR 102 comments it pretty much captures the process, such as it is. Keep in mind C&P suffers a bit on PP as the formatting kinda / sorta runs off ....... someplace but you should be able to make heads or tails of it.
Also if anyone would want the documents e mailed so you can send them to others just send your e mail address and I will get them out to you.
May 17, 2014
The Honorable Commissioners Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission 600 Capitol Way N. Olympia, WA 98501
Re: 2014 Willapa Commercial Season
Dear Members of the Commission:
The Twin Harbors Fish & Wildlife Advocacy is a nonprofit corporation “.....organized for education, science, and other efforts that encourage the public, regulatory agencies and private businesses to manage or utilize fish, wildlife and other natural resources in a fashion that insures the sustainable of those resources on into the future for the benefit of future generations......”
As you are aware, the members of the Advocacy settled a legal challenge to the 2013 Willapa Bay commercial gillnet season under terms agreed by the Department that included three components as follows:
1. An Independent Fisheries Science Panel (IFSP) would be retained to provide recommended mortality rates for selective fishing in Willapa and Grays Harbor;
2. The Advocacy would assist the Department in improving its image and restore public confidence through a series of jointly sponsored meetings would be held to educate the public on season setting processes;
3. The Director would petition the Commission to reopen the Management Plan for Willapa Bay terminal this year.
The first component has been completed. The other two have not and at this point the Advocacy questions whether the goals of any of the three can be reached. However, we do not seek Commission support to complete these conditions. We have legal remedies available to insure the Department keeps its side of the deal.
At this point in time, the Department has filed the CR102 for the 2014 season in Willapa. The season set and WAC language inserted are expected to be adopted on or shortly after the public hearing set for June 24th. The filing of the CR102 with its current language has pushed all to the brink of the cliff. Shortly after the hearing, we fully expect the Department to force all over the edge by adopting the current proposal. Within days, if not hours of adoption, the Advocacy and others will have no choice but to file yet another legal challenge and the Department will be embroiled in yet another round of contentious and prolonged litigation that pits the state treasury against the wallets of its citizens. The goals we had hoped to achieve when entering into the original settlement seem to be rapidly fading away.
The Advocacy has invested significant resources into a presentation that has been provided the Department and duly filed on the record of the APA process for the season. In a candid, critical, and specific fashion, we explain our concerns regarding the current WDFW proposal. The presentation includes specific language change recommendations and three season options set forth in individual Excel spreadsheets created from the one used by WDFW to establish its proposed season.
Another Excel spreadsheet is included that conducts an economic and harvest impact analysis comparing the season proposed by the Department with the options proposed by the Advocacy. This spreadsheet shows why the Advocacy believes its recommendations and the three season options we have developed offer the Department an opportunity rethink its proposal and incorporate provisions that decrease management costs, provide increased profit potentials for the commercial fleet, prevent thousands of fish being killed only to be flung overboard, improve conservation performance and dramatically reduce gear conflicts between the stakeholders.
Review of the Advocacy’s presentation shows that it is not impossible to develop a season that promotes conservation while maximizing harvest opportunity. Unfortunately, while it tries desperately to do so, the Department cannot satisfy all the stakeholders, as it cannot “create 3 full filets out of one salmon.” This is especially true in Willapa for the commercial season as:
• the decline in run sizes diminishes the available harvest;
• the historical fishing practices have decimated natural spawning stocks that the Department is mandated to protect; and
• The ever-increasing costs of taxes, labor and fuel incurred by the gillnet fisherman, combined with the large number of licenses issued (fewer fish per boat) makes the success of the commercial fleet reliant upon the state delivering larger numbers of fish into the nets than are available for harvest.
Recognizing these obstacles, what does seem impossible for the Department is to deliver a season acceptable to the commercial sector even if the season put every one of the few returning natural spawning fish entering the bay into a tote on the deck of a gillnet boat. As a result, the Advocacy accepts the Department staff face a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t scenario” and any season it proposes would likely disappoint the fleet.
However, the Advocacy refuses to accept the notion that it is impossible to improve the performance of the Department when setting seasons. As an example, the Department issued a statement to the public as it filed the CR 102 several weeks ago that claimed the expected “exvessel value” or gross sales of fish to the fleet of the season was “$594K”.
Disclaimer: The Advocacy repeatedly advised the Department during the NOF process that a cell in its harvest model was miscalculating the exvessel value due to a missing parenthesis in a formula inserted in a particular cell. To open the model, find the cell, and make the correction took the Advocacy less than a minute. For some unknown reason, the Department failed to make the correction. If corrected, the model calculates the exvessel value of its current proposal at $736,595.
Regardless, at the point it filed the CR102 containing its proposed season, the Department believed the season it was proposing provided $594K of exvessel value, fished nearly to the last available fish, necessitated extensive investments by the Department into onboard programs during selective fishing cycles (funding source unknown), and killed 5,459 Chum that were to be flung over the side as crab bait. We believe these statements are undisputable facts as documented in WDFW’s own harvest model used to file the CR 102 and create the presentation materials provided the public thereafter.
The Advocacy simply will not accept this proposal is the “best that we could do”. The three season options that the Advocacy is presenting for consideration exceeds the Department’s claim for its proposal with its own model predicting exvessel sales opportunity of $535,569, $636,940, and $742,641. Non-selective 24 hour gillnet seasons with shortened days are offered that allow the fisher flexibility in selecting net mesh sizes and times to be on the water reducing the costs to the fleet as a means to improve the bottom line, which is the true goal of a commercial fisherman.
Conservation standards are improved by avoiding fishing to the last fish. Enhanced protection of native spawning stock is provided and not a single salmon is killed and thrown overboard as crab bait. When selective fishing is utilized, the season is structured to reduce the compliance costs to the fleet and the Department. The Advocacy even goes to the point of offering to provide financial support to help cover the Department’s cost of onboard observer programs to maximize time on the water for the fleet.
The Advocacy is not requesting that the members of the Commission either individually or jointly attempt to intervene in the season setting process or micromanage the Department. However, we do believe it is time to error to the side of candidacy and “lay all cards on the table, face up”. Simply put, the process utilized to set season reflects a Department that is politically polarized and without help from the Commission, it’s all going to come to a head on or shortly after June 24th.
Many in the public are convinced that a season was determined in negotiations outside of public view between upper management and a small number of commercial license holders who consistently turned to key legislators for support and leverage. The basic parameters of the agreed season were supplied to Fish Program staff assigned the dubious task of massaging and manipulating the harvest model to get the predetermined season to fit under the harvest caps set in the model as conservation standards. Then came development of presentation materials to promote the season as the CR 102 was filed.
Not being skilled in the arts of forensic accounting, legalese, and political spin, the presentation to the public came across clumsy at best. The ever-growing number of critics look over the model used and quickly determine where and how the “books have been cooked” to fit the season into the model. Since staffers are not skilled in the art of political spin, review of the sales presentation lead many to the conclusion all is a blatant attempt to deceive (reminiscent of the public reaction to staff’s presentation to the Commission during the re-writing of the Grays Harbor Management Plan). Since the season also fails to deliver the number of fish needed to deliver the desired profit, the commercial interests join in the fracas. Fish Program staff is hung like a punching bag in a gym and the poles and the nets combine forces to work them over.
While it may seem unbelievable to some reviewing its presentation, the Advocacy is convinced the staff within Fish Program have all the education, experience, expertise and experience needed to adopt a season appropriate for Willapa Bay. Key leadership needed is in place. While it unlikely we will reach consensus on all issues, the Advocacy believes Jim Scott and Steve Theisfeld have the talents and abilities to get the job done. However, due to the political polarization and management culture found within the Department, we are also convinced they will not be allowed to actually do the job for which they are paid.
This all leads us to the point where we ask for the support of the Commission. Again, not to adopt or oppose any particular season and, certainly not to micro-manage. Rather, we simply ask that the members of the Commission use individual or combined influence to insure the public that the professional staff within Fish Program have the freedom to make the final decisions for a 2014 commercial season based on their combined professional judgment using the education and expertise they hold and to do so without fear of damage to their careers.
The Advocacy remains committed to protecting and enhancing fish resources in Willapa and Grays Harbor. We fully recognize reasonable people can “agree to disagree” and pledge to remain open-minded until the WAC is adopted. If the current season proposed rules the day, we will honor our commitments to protect these valuable public resources with conviction and vigor.
The Advocacy believes it has done everything possible to avoid yet another legal confrontation and at this point, fear all our efforts have failed. We now pass the ball over the net into the Commission’s court. We stand ready to respond to any questions or requests for additional information.
The Advocacy presentation provided the Department, with attachments, and all the previously referenced Excel files that include the season options referenced have all been posted on Google and are available for downloading at the following addresses: