With the Chinook run and tribal harvest nearly complete it is becoming clear that we are seeing an epic failure from any perspective.

The harvest data says that the run size was way over estimated. Each year a harvest model is developed starting with a run size estimate. After removing the escapement goal, any remaining fish are harvestable. Then allocation is applied before crafting a season based on historical harvest rates. When actual harvest data is available one can “run the model backward” to estimate the actual run size. Some adjustments need to be made because the model calculates impact rather than fish in the boat.

After completing four of five weeks, the tribal Chinook harvest in 2A/2D (Chehalis Chinook) of 1,052 fish amounts to 18% of the expected harvest!!! This implies that the Chehalis Chinook run size is 18% of the forecast. If the wild Chehalis Chinook come in at 18% of the estimated run size of 19,500 it would amount to 3,510 fish compared to an escapement goal of 13,500.

If one makes the same calculation for the Humptulips Chinook, it results in a harvest of 40% of the model and a similar reduction in the run size estimate. The coho run is in the early stages but four weeks of tribal data indicate that the harvest is 23% of what the model predicted in both areas. An unusually small run was predicted but results to date suggest that both Chinook and coho runs are significantly less than the prediction. There is some chance that that the harvest could have been higher but it was so poor that a number of fishermen just gave up and did not fish.

If you are an optimist, Grays Harbor looks great compared to Willapa. The commercial harvest for week 37 (the only data on the web site) indicates a run size of 11% of the forecast. If you are a pessimist, next year should be even worse based on ocean conditions when fish smolted the past two seasons.

This harvest data should be creating absolute panic at PFMC and WDFW.