As the dust settles on the closure of the fall salmon season both WDF&W and the QIN have put out their press releases and rational for what happened. For WDF&W's part it was a bit self serving as it was worded to say something and avoid any responsibility which is pretty much the same for the QIN. Now I am sure you are all shocked and appalled that this was the approach. That WDF&W failed to comply with the GH Management Policy is a given. That the QIN blew right through the numbers available for harvest is undeniable ( after the reduced runsize estimate ) but remember the state side pig piled right on so folks they are BOTH guilty as sin.

Now about the preseason forecast that was little more than a pipe dream one has to wonder just how did they mess up that bad. Good question but below and with this link you can see that NOAA was saying ocean conditions were not going to support the forecast.

Many of the ecosystem indicators for 2014 point towards this being a relatively poor year for salmon survival. The summer PDO values were strongly positive (warm), coinciding with a ‘warm blob’ of water centered in the Gulf of Alaska. El Niño conditions were ‘neutral’, sea surface temperatures were warmer than usual, and the upwelling season started late and ended early. The biological indicators featured a high abundance of large, lipid-rich zooplankton, but a low abundance of winter fish larvae that develop into salmon prey in the spring, and moderate catches of juvenile spring Chinook salmon during the June survey off Washington and Oregon. Overall, juvenile salmon entering the ocean in 2014 encountered below average ocean conditions off Oregon and Washington likely leading to below average returns of adult coho salmon in 2015 and Chinook salmon in 2016. Our annual summary of ecosystem indicators during 2014 is here, and our "stoplight" rankings and predictions are shown below in Table SF-01, Table SF-02, and Figure SF-01.

So we had the WDF&W / Tribal preseason forecast and NOAA with totally opposite projections and the winner is .......... NOAA. So we and the fish loose. To be honest the ocean PDO is but one indicator be it a rather important one and THE CAUTION LIGHT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ON. Instead it was full speed ahead on harvest from the ocean in until it was so obvious even the co- managers could not deny it. From the git go one local Rec ( JC ) was bringing the PDO issue forward but it was pretty much ignored by all in the NOF process including myself. I think JC thought we were all nuts but remember NOF is about " all paper fish must die " so hair straight back at a dead run we all went into the kill mode. But ( you knew that was coming didn't you ) some of us tried to unravel this thing but until the season started you do not get a feel for it. Still from the ocean in from the start the run appeared short and it was only a matter of how much short it would be. To make matters worse you cannot get the policy level WDF&W & QIN folks to manage the harvest in a cooperative manner. Sure the technical staffs proof out numbers and they do a reasonable job at it. That does little when the policy level ( those who make the final decisions ) just cannot get past this ( insert word of choice ) thing they have been doing for the last ten years. I have objected to this continuously and in April even took the issue to the Commission which I posted some time back.

Then this. NOAA thoughts outlined above are for Chinook to tank in 2016. Add to this NOAA's tracking of the Pacific has identified the El Nino will return and with a vengeance. In fact fears are it will surpass the 1997 event ( the worse in recent history ) and maybe even set a record for El Nino resulting in very low Salmon productivity. In a word folks odds are the good times of the past few years are about to go the way of the Dodo bird!

Add to that nearly ALL our fisheries in Grays Harbor are shall we say a bit dishonest as to the actual impacts of the harvest. Take the commercial drift nets both Non Treaty & QIN. They are modeled with a 5% drop out rate which includes Pinniped losses. For years this might have been accurate but not so in recent years. With the recent arrival of large numbers of Sea Lions it has just went ballistic! Setting on the wall at Wal-Mart you can watch the bow picker put out its net followed by the Sea Lions racing upstream and getting fish in front of or out of the net. It is rather easy to see when with all the commotion when they get one as the Seagulls race in to get their share. Then when they reel in the net you can count the number of fish coming over the bow. I witnessed this year as numbers as large as one to one and as low as one for the Sea Lions to seven in the boat. So 5%? Oh I doubt it in fact it ended up around 20 to 25%. So if the QIN got 10000 plus Coho another 2000 plus died be it by the Sea Lions not into the boat and they are not counted in the impacts. The Rec fisheries are similar but I think while problematic our mortality rates drop out and release are OK but ( again don't you just hate the but thing ) it does not take in effort. When the bay fishery was mostly locals and some traveling fishers OK but now it is much much greater number of fishers coming from all over and the harvest model does not reflect EFFORT. Inriver Rec the same / not much difference so drop the finger pointing.

So as the next years process of season setting starts in we cannot afford anymore silliness in the preseason forecast that we had from the co-managers this year. No longer can we set harvest with a wink and nod knowing full well it does not reflect the true impact of any fishery. The good ole days just left folks and reality is about to set in. It is what it is but it should be something to watch play out between the co-managers and all the harvesters. Finally remember this, the fish have no vote.

Edited by Rivrguy (10/30/15 10:19 AM)
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in