This is, without question, an overdue improvement for the sport fishery. Congratulations and thanks, Rivrguy and Co.!
I'm pleased to see progress toward managing for recovery as well, but I'm concerned about the phased impact reduction rate. If 14% was the accepted maximum impact for recovery to occur within 20 or so years, how far out will another 4 years of exceeding that target impact by 30% or more move the recovery goal? How will the record heat and dryness this summer (and likely for much of those next 4 years) impact the ability of the wild fish to recover, or for that matter even sustain their current status?
The other concern is that 4 years is a lot of time for the gillnetters and their political puppets to get the plan overturned, while still harvesting at a rate near to what they did last year in the meantime. This fight is likely far from over.
Putting aside the future for a moment, let's get back to the present, and the much-improved sport fishing prospects for Willapa Bay. If we're to continue progress toward recovery, we'll need to keep impacts on wild fish as low as possible. No doubt, the gillnetters will be complaining loudly to the Legislature about the devastating impact this brand of management has on their livelihood. Our best defense will continue to be the economic impact of sport fishing vs. commercial. That means we need to collectively put our money where our mouths have been. The increased sport opportunity in WB this year needs to result in a proportional increase in benefit to the local economies. That means not only flocking to WB from places far and wide, but also buying gas, bait, food, and lodging in Pacific County. If participation doesn't increase dramatically, the gillnetters will be able to legitimately argue wasted opportunity, and they'll be right there with a hand out to scoop up anything we don't use.
All you 206ers who are getting royally screwed in Areas 9/10 this season should plan a trip to WB to ease the pain a bit. Please....