I just thought I would post my public comment to the commission concerning the new Willapa Bay policy. The 9:00 am Saturday meeting will be worth attending.
After extensive modeling with the new AHA model the department demonstrated that the maximum exploitation of Naselle natural origin Chinook is 14% if recovery of the run is to be achieved in 16-21 years. Anything beyond 14% will result in perpetuating the decline. It was disappointing that the department focused on a 20% exploitation rate in proposed versions A, B, and C. After the commission asked the department for a plan using a maximum of 14% exploitation there are now five proposed versions, A, B, C, D, and E. It should be an outright embarrassment to the leadership that these first three versions at 20% exploitation are still on the table.
The departmentís long term focus on harvesting to the last theoretically available fish clearly shows in these models. Recovery of weak natural origin stocks seems to be a concept that the department does not buy into. At first the commissionís request to model 14% exploitation seemed extreme because it would limit harvest. Upon further reflection this is really the maximum exploitation rate possible if recovery is ever going to be achieved. Imprecision in the model or over exploitation by the harvesters may result in never achieving recovery. The department really should have presented a plan that was based on one or two percent less exploitation than the theoretical maximum.
The remaining plans D and E both consider harvesting to the theoretical maximum exploitation but version D considers an unrealistic hatchery production rate, leaving only version E as a viable choice among the five versions. The Twin Harbors Fish And Wildlife Advocacy presented a modified version E which I signed onto and support. Thank you for your consideration of the modified version E.