The following is a letter that I attempted to address the current status of the Willapa Policy. I would urge all to pay attention to this issue as current WDF&W staff are attempting to circumvent the intent of the policy. It is not a small thing and as always remember, next time they come for you!

Dear Commissioners,

I am writing to express my concerns regarding the recent actions taken by Region 6 ( R6) staff and the Willapa Bay Policy ( WBP ). I recently attended a public meeting in Raymond on this issue, that simply put was a " dog and pony show. " Ms Hoffman and Mr. Philips provided a copy of the policy and a one sided sheet of issues that lacked depth and context, did not provide a in depth summary on the pros & cons but rather limited that discussion and only allowed participants to put forth suggestions. What information was provided was biased to lead one to draw conclusion the staff desired. Honestly Commissioners this process was more about creating confusion in peoples mind rather than educate. This is the definition of a " dog and pony show " by almost any standard that I am aware of. Staff did express confusion as to what the Willapa Policy intended to accomplish as to allocation of available impacts between sport and commercial fishers. I might add that staff stated they were going to have a whole series of these meetings to what end no idea as we all were left wondering why?

This brings me to the purpose of this letter. There cannot be any confusion on this issue with staff as it simply is not possible. Why one may ask? Ms Hoffman could at any time as Region 6 harvest managed simply asked Chad Herring who is the R6 District 16 number cruncher and was very involved with the process of creating the WBP. If that was not adequate she could have turned to the head of her division Mr. Ron Warren, who also was very engaged in the process. If that was not adequate again either Ms Hoffman and Mr. Philips could have picked up the phone and called senior WDF&W staffer Mr. Jim Scott who was the primary author of the WBP for clarification. It is not possible for a WDF&W staffer to stand in front of a room full of citizens and express any confusion as to what the WBP was intended to accomplish or the manner it is to accomplish the goals of it. Perhaps they could be confused if not fully informed by senior WDF&W staff but as Ron Warren once told a group on this issue who questioned a statement as to his view or the agencies in the meeting and he stated forcefully he was the agency in the meeting. So at the recent meeting Mr. Philips and Ms Hoffman were the agency and it is not possible for the agency to be confused on this issue.

Commissioners a large number of citizens participated in the WBP process. We drove long distances to many meetings, endured verbal abuse and threats of violence from opponents of HSRG and the WBP to get this task accomplished in a partnership with WDF&W. For staff to now attempt to undermine that joint effort by so many citizens is appalling and frankly a affront to those citizens.

A number of challenges faced staff with the implementation of the WBP. Frankly were simply ignored and brought us to this place with the WBP. The driver of this is the fact that Willapa Bay has a rather small Natural Origin Recruits ( NOR ) and a large Hatchery Origin Recruits ( HOR ) which means selective or alternate methods of fishing by any harvester would be required for any recovery of NOR Chinook stocks. This was discussed many times, resisted by the commercial fishers as they refused to recognize HSRG and the need to manage for natural production in any manner and was accepted by the sport fishers. There cannot be any confusion with staff as it was the primary driver in the discussions many times. It was known that selective or alternate harvest methods would have to fully implemented rather quickly for the commercial fisher and this was a fundamental objective of the WBP.

To assure that the NOR Chinook trended up to recovery several mechanisms were in the WBP. A payback clause to more less refund fish the next year by the harvester who over fished their allocation is present but never complied with by staff as it relates to commercial fishers. The harvest rate impacts would go from 20% to 14% after the first implementation years to again insure that the Chinook stocks continued to trend up to escapement goals. Additionally the sport fisher was given Chinook priority and commercial Coho and Chum.

After mostly failing rather miserably at compiling with the previously mentioned WBP objectives staff simply ignored goals of the WBP and created what could best be described as a train wreck. Additionally to comply with HSRG in the creation of the WBP a reduction of Chinook production at Forks Creek Hatchery to 350K was required. This action resulted in a very simple fact that four years from implementation of the WBP that the mix of NOR and HOR Chinook in the North end of Willapa Bay and the Willapa River would be drastically changed from the vast majority of the Chinook being HOR fish to nearly one on one NOR / HOR. This is not a small detail. With the future being as I described even if the commercial fisher used a tangle net to reduce mortality the number of NOR's encountered and released mortalities in any Willapa River ( Forks Creek production ) would nearly dictate a very large reduction of fishing time by commercials in the South end of the bay during their Coho fishery. Again Commissioners that was why the use of selective gear or alternate harvest methods was a priority. I would also point out that it was WDF&W that insisted on the aggregate of all streams in Willapa Bay for each species rather than separate the bay into two sections ( North & South ) as I and others urged to simplify harvest allocation impacts.

The fact is Commissioners with the WBP after four years and the Forks Creek Chinook production reduction it will be very difficult just to keep the sport fisher a full seasons in Area's T & U. (North Willapa Bay ) At that time the majority of returning Chinook will be returning to the South end of the bay to Naselle & Nemah giving access to the commercial fisher. This will be a majority of the HOR Chinook to be sure but the Commercial fishers gear will need to be selective or alternate types ( traps / other ) to access these fish due to small number of NOR Chinook. This outcome was what the WBP dictated and was the desired outcome. Not to remove commercial fisheries from Willapa Harbor but to direct them toward a method of harvest that was sustainable. The majority of commercials fishers refused to change gear types which leaves one with the outcome we have now which is the one the commercial fleet chose.

Finally Commissioners one last issue. In the nearly 40 years I have been around the agency or working with it one thing has been present but never to the degree it is now. The thing? WDF&W staff believe it is proper and acceptable to with hold facts or information that would lead one to draw a conclusion different than they would if fully informed. Now I know what my mother told me that was prior to my car and myself grounded for six months when I utilized this method but you can choose your definition. I can tell what it is not. It is not forthright, honest, or ethical. In fact I see that a bill was dropped addressing this issue in the legislature as this seems to be a problem that WDF&W is the poster child for.

From my seat in the stands you folks have some work to do internally before you start making decisions be it the WBP or any other policy. If staff provided information I seriously doubt the validity or accuracy of it let alone anything that is not biased toward the outcome that senior staff in Olympia desire. It is my understanding that the Advocacy will be making a presentation on Willapa soon and I urge the Commissioners to listen to them. It will be unvarnished truth to be sure but after the smoke and mirrors of staff presentations you might find a forthright honest presentation refreshing.

Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in