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#1014059 - 09/19/19 04:50 AM Willapa Policy Reveiw
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 3275
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope

I thought this subject needed a thread. The Willapa Policy review has been contentious at times. Due to Commission input the schedule has been extended to December. Below is the policy and the items in red are the Commission questions. There is much more to this but this will do for now.

POLICY TITLE: Willapa Bay Salmon Management POLICY NUMBER: C-3622

Cancels or Effective Date: June 13, 2015
Supersedes: NA Termination Date: December 31, 2023

See Also: Policies C-3608, C-3619 Approved June 13, 2015 by: Chair
Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission


Purpose
The objective of this policy is to achieve the conservation and restoration of wild salmon in Willapa Bay and avoid ESA designation of any salmon species . Where consistent with this conservation objective, the policy also seeks to maintain or enhance the economic well-being and stability of the commercial and recreational fishing industry in the state, provide the public with outdoor recreational experiences , and an appropriate distribution of fishing opportunities throughout the Willapa Bay Basin . Enhanced transparency, information sharing, and improved technical rigor of fishery management are needed to restore and maintain public trust and support for management of Willapa Bay salmon fisheries.

Definition and Goal
This policy sets a general management direction and provides guidance for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (Department) management of all Pacific salmon returning to the Willapa Bay Basin. The Willapa Bay Basin is defined as Willapa Bay and its freshwater tributaries.

General Policy Statement
What are the aggregate fishery impact rates and status of achieving the conservation goals of each species in the four years of policy implementation in comparison to the four-year period prior to the policy adoption?
What populations of salmon were in need of restoration during the four years prior to Policy adoption and what is their current status? (Note the distinction between population status restoration and habitat restoration as referenced in Question 10.)
What is the pattern of abundance for all areas in the ESU of each species in the 20 years prior to Policy adoption and has that pattern changed as a result of Policy C-3622 implementation?
What is the average ex-vessel value of the commercial fishery landings in the four years of policy implementation in comparison to a four-year base period prior to the policy adoption, normalized to eliminate the variations in annual run sizes and annual price per pound?
What is the number of angler trips during the four years of policy implementation in comparison to a four-year base period prior to the policy adoption, normalized to eliminate the variability of annual run sizes?
Is there a discernable measurement to show if there has been any change in non-fishing related outdoor recreational experiences available to the public? If so, does it show that this policy intent was achieved, or that there has been a change in such recreational opportunity since the Policy was adopted?
What has been the change in the distribution of fishing effort throughout the Willapa Bay Basin during 2015-18 in comparison to the four-year period prior to Policy adoption?

This policy provides a cohesive set of principles and guidance to promote the conservation of wild salmon and steelhead and improve the Department’s management of salmon in the Willapa Bay Basin. The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission (Commission) recognizes that management decisions must be informed by fishery monitoring (biological and economic), and that innovation and adaptive management will be necessary to achieve the stated purpose of this policy . By improving communication, information sharing, and transparency, the Department shall promote improved public support for management of Willapa Bay salmon fisheries.

State commercial and recreational fisheries will need to increasingly focus on the harvest of abundant hatchery fish. Mark-selective fisheries are a tool that permits the harvest of abundant hatchery fish while reducing impacts on wild stocks needing protection. As a general policy, the Department shall implement mark-selective salmon fisheries , unless the wild populations substantially affected by the fishery are meeting spawner (e.g., escapement goal) and broodstock management objectives. In addition, the Department may consider avoidance, alternative gears, or other selective fishing concepts along with other management approaches provided they are as or more effective than a mark-selective fishery in achieving spawner and broodstock management objectives.

Fishery and hatchery management measures should be implemented as part of an “all-H” strategy that integrates hatchery, harvest, and habitat systems. Although the policy focuses on fishery management, this policy in no way diminishes the significance of habitat protection and restoration.

Guiding Principles
The Department shall apply the following principles in the management of salmon in the Willapa Bay Basin:

1) Prioritize the restoration and conservation of wild salmon through a comprehensive, cohesive, and progressive series of fishery, hatchery, and habitat actions.

2) Work with our partners (including Regional Fishery Enhancement Groups, nonprofit organizations, the public and Lead Entities) to protect and restore habitat productivity .

3) Implement improved broodstock management (including selective removal of hatchery fish) to reduce the genetic and ecological impacts of hatchery fish and improve the fitness and viability of salmon produced from Willapa Bay rivers (see Hatchery and

Over the course of the first four years of Policy implementation, has there been any adaptive changes to the management prescribed in the 2015 Policy as written? If so, describe the change and when it occurred, the rationale for the change, and if the change accomplished the objective.
What mark-selective fisheries have been implemented since Policy adoption that were not in place prior to Policy adoption?
What habitat restoration projects were implemented after Policy adoption as a result of this Policy? (Note the distinction between habitat restoration and population status restoration as referenced in Question 2.)
Are there HGMPs for the hatcheries in the Willapa Bay Basin? If so, insert a link in the analysis.


Fishery Reform Policy C-3619). Achieve Hatchery Scientific Review Group (HSRG) broodstock management standards for Coho and Chum salmon by 2015 , and work toward a goal of achieving standards for Chinook salmon by 2020 .

4) Investigate and promote the development and implementation of alternative selective gear. The development of alternative selective gear may provide an opportunity to target fishery harvests on abundant hatchery fish stocks, reduce the number of hatchery-origin fish in natural spawning areas, limit mortalities on non-target species and stocks, and provide commercial fishing opportunities.

5) Work through the Pacific Salmon Commission to promote the conservation of Willapa Bay salmon and, in a manner consistent with the provisions of the Pacific Salmon Treaty, pursue the implementation of fishery management actions necessary to achieve agreed conservation objectives.

6) Within the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) process, support management measures that promote the attainment of Willapa Bay conservation objectives consistent with the Council’s Salmon Fishery Management Plan.

7) Monitoring, sampling, and enforcement programs will adequately account for species and population impacts (landed catch and incidental fishing mortality) of all recreational and commercial fisheries and ensure compliance with state regulations. Develop and implement enhanced enforcement strategies to improve compliance with fishing regulations and ensure orderly fisheries.

8) If it becomes apparent that a scheduled fishery will exceed the aggregated pre-season natural-origin Chinook mortality (impact) expectation, the Department shall implement in-season management actions in an effort to avoid cumulative mortalities of natural-origin Chinook in excess of the aggregated pre-season projection.

9) Salmon management and catch accounting will be timely, well documented, transparent, well-communicated, and accountable. The Department shall strive to make ongoing improvements in the transparency of fishery management and for effective public involvement in planning Willapa Bay salmon fisheries, including rule-making processes. These shall include: a) clearly describing management objectives in a document available to the public prior to the initiation of the preseason planning process; b) enhancing opportunities for public engagement during the preseason fishery planning process; c) communicating in-season information and management actions to advisors and the public; and d) striving to improve communication with the public regarding co-management issues that are under discussion.


What are the specific wild broodstock management standards for coho and chum salmon that are referred to, and were they achieved by 2015? If not by then, have they been achieved since 2015? If not, what progress was made of the course of 2015-18 in comparison to a base period prior to Policy adoption?
What are the specific wild broodstock management standards for chinook salmon that are referred to, and what progress was made over the course of 2015-18 in comparison to a base period prior to Policy adoption?


10) monitoring, the development of new tools, and rigorous assessment of fishery models and parameters .

11) When a mark-selective fishery occurs, the mark-selective fishery shall be implemented, monitored, and enforced in a manner designed to achieve the anticipated conservation benefits .
Seek to improve fishery management and technical tools through improved fishery

Fishery and Species-Specific Guidance
Subject to the provisions of the Adaptive Management section, the following fishery-and species-specific sections describe the presumptive path for achieving conservation objectives and an appropriate distribution of fishing opportunities.


Fall Chinook Salmon
Subject to the adaptive management provisions of this policy, the Department will manage fall Chinook salmon fisheries and hatchery programs consistent with the Guiding Principles and the following additional guidance:

1) The Department shall initiate a two-phase rebuilding program to conserve and restore wild Chinook salmon in Willapa Bay. The progressive series of actions is intended to result in achieving broodstock management standards by 2020 and spawner goals by years 16-21. Within the conservation constraints of the rebuilding program, Chinook salmon will be managed to provide for a full recreational fishing season with increased participation and/or catch anticipated in future years .

2) Rebuilding Program - Phase 1 (Years 1-4). The objectives of Phase 1 shall be to increase the number of natural-origin spawners and implement hatchery program modifications designed to meet broodstock management standards in the subsequent cycle.

a. Implement hatchery broodstock management actions to promote re-adaptation to

With the understanding that department staff as a whole is constantly in a mode of incorporating improvements in technical fishery management capabilities as new approaches or refinements are vetted, even when minor, what are the three most significant advancements in technical fishery management capabilities for Willapa Bay salmon over the course of the Policy to date? If less than three, state any that fit a threshold of reasonably high significance.
With cross reference to question 9, what has been the conservation benefit from mark-selective fisheries newly implemented as a result of this Policy, and how do they compare to the benefits anticipated when the new fishery regulations were set?
Has there been any recreational fishing closures from normally open seasons for chinook salmon over the course of 2015-18, what are the angler trip and catch estimates for the recreational fishery for chinook salmon 2015-18, and how do they compare with the four years prior to adoption of this Policy?
Has there been an increase in the overall number of natural-origin chinook spawners in the Willapa basin, or an increase in specific river systems?


the natural environment and enhance productivity of natural-origin Chinook salmon in the North/Smith, Willapa, and Naselle rivers:

• North/Smith – Manage as Wild Salmon Management Zone with no hatchery releases of Chinook salmon.

• Willapa – Implement an integrated program with hatchery broodstock management strategies designed to achieve broodstock management standards consistent with a Primary designation in the subsequent cycle .

• Naselle – Implement hatchery broodstock strategies designed to achieve broodstock management standards consistent with a Contributing designation in the subsequent cycle .

b. Pursue implementation of additional mark-selective commercial fishing gear to enhance conservation and provide harvest opportunities. The Department shall provide to the Commission by January 2017 a status report and by January 2018 an assessment of options to implement additional mark-selective commercial fishing gear in Willapa Bay. The assessment shall identify the likely release mortality rates for each gear type, the benefits to rebuilding naturally spawning populations, and the benefits and impacts to the commercial fishery .

3) Rebuilding Program - Phase 2 (Years 5 – 21). The combination of fishery and harvest management actions is projected to result on average in the achievement of spawner goals for the North, Naselle, and Willapa populations in the years 16-21. Additional fishery and hatchery management actions will be considered during this time period if the progress toward the spawner objectives is inconsistent with expectations.

4) Fishery Management Objectives. The fishery management objectives for fall Chinook salmon, in priority order, are to:

a. Achieve spawner goals for the North, Naselle, and Willapa stocks of natural-origin Chinook and hatchery reform broodstock objectives through the two phase rebuilding program described above.

b. Provide for an enhanced recreational fishing season. The impact rate of the recreational fishery is anticipated to be ~3.2% during the initial years of the

What is the working definition of an “integrated program” and a “Primary designation” in this situation and what modifications of the hatchery program were implemented during 2015-18 to achieve the objective of this paragraph?
What is the working definition of a “Contributing designation” in this situation and what modifications of the hatchery program were implemented during 2015-18 to achieve the objective of this paragraph?
Were the 2017 report and the 2018 assessment of options completed and if so, what are the highlights of the reports? The links to these reports should be included in the analysis.


policy, but may increase in subsequent years to provide for an enhanced recreational season as described below:

• Manage Chinook salmon for an enhanced recreational fishing season to increase participation and/or catch including consideration of increased daily limits, earlier openings, multiple rods, and other measures .

• Conservation actions, as necessary, shall be shared equally between marine and freshwater fisheries.

c. Provide opportunities for commercial fisheries within the remaining available fishery impacts.

5) Fishery Management in 2015-2018. To facilitate a transition to the Willapa River as the primary Chinook salmon population, fisheries during the transition period will be managed with the following goal:

a. The impact rate on Willapa and Naselle river natural-origin fall Chinook in Willapa Bay fisheries shall not exceed 20% . Within this impact rate cap, the priority shall be to maintain a full season of recreational fisheries for Chinook salmon in the Willapa Bay Basin.

b. To promote the catch of hatchery-origin Chinook salmon and increase the number of natural-origin spawners, within the 20% impact rate cap the following impact rates shall be set-aside for mark-selective commercial fishing gear types with an anticipated release mortality rate of less than 35% :


Fishing Year Mark-Selective Commercial Fishing Gear Set-Aside
2015 1%
2016 2%
2017 6%
2018 6%

The Commission may consider adjustments to the set-asides for 2017 and 2018 based upon the Department’s reports to the Commission on commercial mark-

What has been the chinook recreational fishery impact rate 2015-18 and the four years prior to Policy adoption?
What changes in these recreational fishery management measures occurred during 2015-18, from the four-year period prior to Policy adoption?
What are the actual aggregate Willapa Bay chinook impact rates that occurred 2015-18, in comparison to the four years prior to Policy implementation?
What were the actual annual pre-season planned impact rate set-asides for mark selective commercial fishing gear and what were the actual post-season impact rates that occurred, over the course of 2105-18, in comparison to the set-asides called for in the Policy?


selective fishing gear (paragraph 2(b)) or other adaptive management considerations.

c. No commercial Chinook fisheries shall occur in areas 2T and 2U prior to September 16.

d. No commercial Chinook fisheries shall occur in areas 2M, 2N, 2P and 2R until after Labor Day.

6) Fishery Management After 2018. Fisheries in the Willapa Bay Basin will be managed with the goal of:

a. Limiting the fishery impact rate on Willapa and Naselle river natural-origin fall Chinook salmon to no more than 14%.

b. No commercial fisheries shall occur within areas 2T and 2U prior to September 16.

c. No commercial Chinook fisheries shall occur in areas 2M, 2N, 2P and 2R until after September 7.

7) Maintaining Rebuilding Trajectory. If the postseason estimate (as presented at the annual Commission review) of aggregated natural-origin Chinook salmon mortality (impacts) exceeds the preseason projection, the Department staff shall make a recommendation to the Commission regarding an adjustment to the allowable impacts for the subsequent year . The recommendation shall be based upon the percentage by which the postseason estimate of impacts exceeded the preseason projection, but may consider other factors such as the predicted abundance or other relevant factors .

8) Hatchery Production. Within budgetary constraints, and at the earliest feasible date, the Department shall seek to implement the following hatchery production of fall Chinook salmon:

• 0.80 million at Naselle Hatchery
• 3.30 million at Nemah Hatchery
• 0.35 million at Forks Creek Hatchery


Coho Salmon
What has been the staff understanding of the policy intent of this provision?
What is an example of how this provision would have been implemented, and was it ever implemented 2015-18?
What are the actual fall chinook production and release location specifics for the hatcheries listed and how does this compare to the four years prior to Policy adoption?


Subject to the adaptive management provisions of this policy, the Department will manage Coho salmon fisheries and hatchery programs consistent with the Guiding Principles and the following objectives:

1) Broodstock Management Strategies. Manage Coho salmon with the following designations and broodstock management strategies:

North/Smith Willapa Naselle
Designation Primary Primary Stabilizing
Broodstock Strategy No Hatchery Program Integrated Integrated

Coho salmon returning to all other watersheds will be managed consistent with a Contributing designation.

2) Fishery Management Objectives. The fishery management objectives for Coho salmon, in priority order, are to:

a. Manage fisheries with the goal of achieving the aggregate spawner goal for Willapa Bay natural-origin Coho salmon. When the pre-season forecast of natural-origin adult Coho is less than the aggregate goal, or less than 10% higher than the aggregate goal, fisheries in the Willapa Bay Basin will be scheduled to result in an impact of no more than 10% of the adult return ;

b. Prioritize commercial fishing opportunities during the Coho fishery management period (September 16 through October 14); and

c. Provide recreational fishing opportunities .

Chum Salmon
Subject to the adaptive management provisions of this policy, the Department will manage Chum salmon fisheries and hatchery programs consistent with the Guiding Principles and the following objectives:

1) Broodstock Management Strategies. Manage Chum salmon with the following designations and broodstock management strategies:

North/Smith Palix Bear
Designation Primary Contributing Primary

What is the working definition of a “Stabilizing” designation in this situation?
Over the course of 2015-18, was the policy intent of this provision achieved, and if the “10% or less” features were used, what were the pre-season and post-season fishery impact rates for those particular years?
Over the course of 2015-18, were recreational fisheries for coho salmon closed for conservation purposes? If so, describe the commercial fishery opportunity in that same year


Broodstock Strategy No Hatchery Program No Hatchery Program No Hatchery Program

Chum salmon returning to all other watersheds will be managed consistent with a Contributing designation.

2) Fishery Management Objectives. The fishery management objectives for Chum salmon, in priority order, are to:

a. Achieve the aggregate goal for naturally spawning Chum salmon and meet hatchery reform broodstock objectives (see bullet 3);

b. Provide commercial fishing opportunities during the Chum salmon fishery management period (October 15 through October 31); and

c. Provide recreational fishing opportunities . Recreational fisheries will be allowed to retain Chum salmon.

3) Fisheries will be managed with the goal of achieving the aggregate goal for Willapa Bay naturally spawning Chum salmon. Until the spawner goal is achieved 2 consecutive years, the maximum fishery impact shall not exceed a 10% impact rate and no commercial fisheries will occur in the period from October 15-31. If the number of natural-origin spawners was less than the goal in 3 out of the last 5 years, the Department shall implement the following measures :

a. The predicted fishery impact for Chum in Willapa Bay Basin will be scheduled to result in an impact of no more than 10% of the adult return.

b. When the Chum pre-season forecast is 85% or less of the escapement goal, the predicted fishery impact for Chum in Willapa Bay Basin will be scheduled to result in an impact of no more than 5% of the adult return.

4) The Department shall evaluate opportunities to increase hatchery production of Chum salmon. If Chum salmon hatchery production is enhanced, beginning as early as 2018, fisheries in the Willapa Bay Basin may be implemented with a fishery impact limit of no more than 33% of the natural-origin Chum salmon return.


Adaptive Management

What is the working definition of a “Contributing” designation for the Palix River with no hatchery program in place?
Over the course of 2015-18, were recreational fisheries for chum salmon closed for conservation purposes? If so, describe the commercial fishery opportunity in that same year.
Over the course of 2015-18, was the policy intent of this provision, including 3.a and 3.b, achieved? If any of the fishery impact rate specifications were implemented 2015-18, what were the pre-season and post-season fishery impact rates for those particular years?


The Commission recognizes that adaptive management will be essential to achieve the purpose of this policy. Department staff may implement actions to manage adaptively to achieve the objectives of this policy and will coordinate with the Commission, as needed, in order to implement corrective actions.

The Commission will also track implementation and results of the fishery management actions and artificial production programs in the transition period, with annual reviews beginning in 2016 and a comprehensive review at the end of the transition period (e.g., 2019). Fisheries pursuant to this Policy will be adaptive and adjustments may be made. Department staff may implement actions necessary to manage adaptively to achieve the objectives of this policy and shall coordinate with the Commission, as needed, in order to implement corrective actions.

Components of the adaptive management will be shared with the public through the agency web site and will include the following elements:

1) Conduct Annual Fishery Management Review. The Department shall annually evaluate fishery management tools and parameters, and identify improvements as necessary to accurately predict fishery performance and escapement.

2) Improve In-season Management. The Department shall develop, evaluate, and implement fishery management models, procedures, and management measures that are projected to enhance the effectiveness of fishery management relative to management based on preseason predictions.

3) Review Spawner Goals. The Department shall review spawner goals to ensure that they reflect the current productivity of salmon within the following timelines:

a. Chum: September 1, 2016
b. Coho: January 1, 2016
c. Chinook: January 1, 2020

4) Comprehensive Hatchery Assessment. The Department shall complete a comprehensive review of the hatchery programs in the Willapa Bay region by June 2016 . The review shall identify the capital funding necessary to maintain or enhance current hatchery programs, identify changes in release locations or species that would enhance recreational and commercial fishing opportunities, identify improvements or new weirs to increase compliance with broodstock management, and the use of re-use water systems, water temperature manipulation to increase production hatchery capacity.

What changes, if any, occurred as a result of this review? The analysis should provide the links to these reviews.
What are the most significant results of this review? The analysis should provide the link to this review.


5) Ocean Ranching Opportunities. The Department shall complete by January 2016 a comprehensive review of opportunities and constraints to implement ocean ranching of salmon in Willapa Bay .

Delegation of Authority
The Commission delegates the authority to the Director, through the North of Falcon stakeholder consultation process, to set seasons for recreational and commercial fisheries in the Willapa Bay Basin, and to adopt permanent and emergency regulations to implement these fisheries.

This guidance establishes a number of important conservation and allocation principles for the Director and agency staff to apply when managing the fishery resources of Willapa Bay. While this policy establishes a clear presumptive path forward with regard to many of the identified objectives, those principles and concrete objectives are intended to guide decision-making and are not intended to foreclose adaptive management based upon new information. Nor does this guidance preclude the need to gather and consider additional information during the annual process of developing fishery plans and the associated rule-making processes that open fisheries in Willapa Bay. The Commission fully expects that the Director and agency staff will continue to communicate with the public, and the Commission, to consider new information, evaluate alternate means for carrying out policy objectives, and consider instances in which it may make sense to deviate from the presumptive path forward. That is the nature of both adaptive management, and policy implementation, when faced with a dynamic natural environment.

What key opportunity and constraints were identified in this report? The analysis should provide the link to this review
_________________________
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

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#1014104 - 09/19/19 04:34 PM Re: Willapa Policy Reveiw [Re: Rivrguy]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 3275
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope

Another's letter to the Commission & Director

Dear Commissioners and Director,

I am writing to provide feedback on the ongoing Willapa bay salmon rule change and policy revision. I have followed the management of Willapa bay fisheries for 20 years and served as a WB recreational advisor in the past during the initial Willapa bay policy development process. As a recreational angler for salmon, I view the process through the prism of angler opportunity and have advocated for a Willapa bay policy that maximizes economic benefits while achieving the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s stated conservation goals.

The Director’s recent comments in the press would suggest WDFW staff is mystified by a dearth of public support for the agency. Even a casual examination of the Willapa bay process over the past decade should place the reasons clearly in focus. Unlike other most other salmon management situations in the state, WDFW has sole responsibility for WB salmon management and it is obvious and unmitigated fisheries management disaster. Worse, WDFW seems committed to maintaining the status quo. Chinook management on WB seems the most obvious failing of WDFW to me.

As written the Willapa bay Salmon policy for chinook is an abject failure for many reasons:

· It fails to optimize the economic benefits of limited natural origin chinook impacts.
· It lacks basis in biological reality with overly optimistic escapement goals for chinook.
· It was formulated in the absence of critical habitat evaluation of the Naselle and Willapa Rivers.
· It fails to implement an actual recreational priority, but rather eliminates recreational fishing.

While the veneer of conservation language might suggest to naďve readers that strong conservation goals have been set, it has been clear from the outset that they are unattainable and have little basis in biological reality. For example, the data used to formulate the policy was mostly derived from a time prior to mass marking of hatchery chinook in WB hatcheries. So for instance, the data to derive realistic escapement goals was lacking at the outset. Likewise, despite repeated advisor requests for comparative quantitative habitat analysis, primary stream and contributing stream designations were made in the absence of contemporary habitat considerations. Furthermore, coded wire tag data clearly showing that the recreational catch was mostly composed of hatchery origin Forks Creek hatchery fish was disregarded counter to the state objectives of the policy of having a recreational priority. Taken together this lack of science driven decision making necessitates a full reconsidering of stream designations and revision of the policy to meet the Commission’s stated objectives for Willapa bay chinook management.

The consideration of what a meaningful recreational priority for chinook management might look like is also important because historically, Willapa bay has long been the top small boat marine chinook fishing destination in a state with very few remaining chinook fishing destinations. While the policy has been successful in mitigating gear conflict, which is an important aspect of recreational priority, it has done so at the expense of maintaining the one key hatchery stock (Fork’s Creek) making up the majority of marine recreational catch. As production has tapered back at Fork’s Creek, marine angler success has plummeted. Some Willapa bay advisors suggest that the recreational fleet move south in the bay to follow the fish, but these fish are largely inaccessible to the recreational fleet due to intense weeds, navigational hazards, swift currents, shoals, and long runs from primitive launches exposed to strong winds. Combined with a relative isolation from marine infrastructure (harbors, launches, emergency services) these hazards will contribute to significant risk to the typical small boat angler and will dramatically decrease the accessibility and safety of the fishery.
To conclude, it is clear that a significant revision of the Willapa Bay chinook policy is needed. If a recreational priority is to be an important piece of that revision, the primary stream designation should be shifted back to the Naselle River and hatchery chinook production restored at the Forks Creek hatchery. At the very least a biological evaluation of the stream designation is essential.

As a devoted recreational angler, I have previously spent all my recreational time, effort, and money in the state of Washington. And usually 2+ weeks of the summer on Willapa bay. However, given the declining state of summer fishing opportunity, I am switching more of that time, effort, and especially money to neighboring states that value and support recreational angling opportunities for salmon and other gamefish. If the trajectory of WDFW policy decisions continue to deemphasize angling opportunity, I will stop angling in this state altogether.

Sincerely,
_________________________
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

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#1014128 - 09/20/19 08:46 AM Re: Willapa Policy Reveiw [Re: Rivrguy]
Salmo g. Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/08/99
Posts: 12550
The above letter makes all the sense in the world. I have not been a Willapa Bay activist, but WDFW's WB policy looks like something that was intended from the outset to be as bass-ackwards as possible. The whole idea of managing for significant natural fall Chinook production in an environment that historically and naturally was never a major producer of fall Chinook is a questionable intention. And then to select the Willapa River as the bastion of natural Chinook production, when it has no environmental possibility of ever achieving that status makes a rational person's head spin. At the very least the policy should include environmental analyses of the Willlapa and Naselle basins to assess natural Chinook production feasibility now, and into the future.

I sent a lengthy letter to the Director and Commission in early June listing eight "gripes" pertaining to the Department being stuck in the 20th century and running headlong over the cliff of irrelevancy by working against the interest of recreational angling. Two months later I received an 8-page reply which doubled down on the dumb-foolery that indeed, the Department that is committed to transparency must conduct meetings behind closed doors, and supports recreational fishing by closing several key recreational fisheries lest the treaty tribes object, and spend our tax and license fee dollars to support salmon fishing in Canada and commercial fishing in Washington. And yes, the Department and Commission think it reasonable to expect that we will lobby the Legislature to increase its General Fund appropriation and an increase in recreational license fees to continue the Department's status quo effort that undermines recreational fishing in Washington State. Yee gads.

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#1014146 - 09/20/19 11:22 AM Re: Willapa Policy Reveiw [Re: Rivrguy]
Carcassman Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 5496
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
Probably the next big step in WA will be the creation of private hunting and fishing situations. Create a lake, stock it, charge for fishing. There are already some; will be more. Create more Texas-style hunting ranches. Use exotics. It will, unfortunately, be pay to play but right now it is pay to sit on the sidelines.

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#1014188 - 09/21/19 09:24 AM Re: Willapa Policy Reveiw [Re: Rivrguy]
Salmo g. Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/08/99
Posts: 12550
It's going to hurt my fishing interests, but the way WDFW is going, instead of asking the Legislature for more WDFW funding, I'm going to lobby against the Department's requested budget increase, and argue for the Legislature to enact a further reduction in the General Fund appropriation. At some point WDFW will have to recognize that biting the hand that feeds it is a really poor business plan.

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#1014189 - 09/21/19 10:44 AM Re: Willapa Policy Reveiw [Re: Rivrguy]
Carcassman Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 5496
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
Have to agree with that sentiment. Sad.

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#1014200 - 09/21/19 09:55 PM Re: Willapa Policy Reveiw [Re: Salmo g.]
darth baiter Offline
Parr

Registered: 04/04/10
Posts: 66
Loc: United States
Salmo, do you really think that gutting the wdfw budget and slashing the amount of money they have is going to improve fishing? You are smarter than that. There are a bunch of legislators that would gladly cut the wdfw budget but they aren't going to lift one finger to help your fishing or pressure wdfw to do so. Its nuts to think that having less money for hatcheries or monitoring or enforcement or just day to day business is going to result in a better fishing in the future.

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#1014201 - 09/21/19 10:21 PM Re: Willapa Policy Reveiw [Re: Rivrguy]
Carcassman Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 5496
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
In the shot term, fishing might get worse. But keeping on with SSDD is certainly not going to make things any better.

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#1014204 - 09/22/19 05:18 AM Re: Willapa Policy Reveiw [Re: Rivrguy]
Smalma Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/25/01
Posts: 2758
Loc: Marysville
I have to agree with darth baiter. Without a doubt WDW has lost respect of much of its historic base and has done little to instill confidence that they even care about the fishers and hunters of this state or even demonstrated why any of us should support their budget request. But at the same time I realize that fishing and hunting are become more and more a niche sports that surely will become less important if financial support for traditional programs continue to be decreased.

My assessment is that as interest in the our outdoor activities decrease there is zero chance that this State's legislators will come to our rescue. On there other hand there is the remote chance that WDFW leadership might come to its collectively sense. Doing so will require that they come to grip with their past management mistakes, figure out how to effectively communicate with its potential constitutes, actually follow its own mandates and policies and actually move from a reactive management to one focusing on vision for the future with a proactive management strategy to achieve that vision. And yes I agree that chances of those changes happen are slight but still not zero! That is why I continue to expend significant time trying to move the WDFW management needle in that direction.

That said like many I find myself spending more time recreating out of Washington. For decades a major focus of my fall fishing has been chasing sea-run cutthroat on my home rivers with a fly rod. Now in spite of continued abundant cutthroat populations in those rivers in a few hours I'm leaving for a week of trout fishing on an interior BC lake.

Curt

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#1014207 - 09/22/19 08:51 AM Re: Willapa Policy Reveiw [Re: Rivrguy]
Bay wolf Offline
Spawner

Registered: 10/26/12
Posts: 928
Loc: Graham, WA
I believe Salmo's comments represent the frustration that many, many of us feel with the current trends we see coming out of WDFW. For many of us, there is the feeling of being taken advantage of, having carried the burden of the largest portion of financial support, yet seeing decisions and management practices that are not in the recreational fishermen's interest.
Couple this with the fundamental truth that we (individual fishermen) are essentially powerless compared to the tribes and commercial interests, both financial and politically.

This frustration has grown to the point that a lot of recreational fishermen feel helpless and think the only real impact that's left is to "gut" the department with a financial knife. Is it cutting off your nose to spite your face? Yes. Of course the programs that will be cut will be those programs that most benefit the recreational angler. The department has used that tactic to extort the rec's for years. But in reality, what else is there?
Attending all the meetings in the world, showing up and voicing your opinion, getting on the committee's and boards and groups, paying dues to organizations and clubs and associations? I mean, really, most of us have been doing this for years, thousands and thousands of hours and where are we?
There is a fundamental problem with the way in which our "PUBLIC" resources are managed in this state, and that problem is; they are managed for financial gain for a select minority.
As long as politicians can be bought, and our commissioners answer to the tribes and Governor things will not ever be better for the recreational fishermen. We are the majority in population but a meaningless minority as far as political power. And in this day and age, being right means nothing, being powerful means you get what you want.
_________________________
"Forgiveness is between them and God. My job is to arrange the meeting."

1Sgt U.S. Army (Ret)

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#1014212 - 09/22/19 10:14 AM Re: Willapa Policy Reveiw [Re: Rivrguy]
Carcassman Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 5496
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
Just look at the response from WDFW to Salmo. Essentially, we're doing fine, there are no problems that we need to change, and we need more money.

Opportunities have eroded, WDFW seems focused on ocean salmon and the rest can close, the tribes simply dictate what they will allow. What has been accomplished towards recovery of salmon, steelhead, SRKWs that have been listed for close to 20 years? What have they accomplished?

I suspect folks would be more supportive if progress in population rebound and fishery expansion was being seen.

I realize that the problems affecting marine resources include other states and countries, they include the ocean, and there is a lot going on. And it really doesn't seem that we are looking at it all, holistically. WDG started a long-term steelhead life history and population dynamics research program in 1976; what has it found out since it should cover a couple of PDO shifts, el Ninos, la Ninas, increases and decreases in con-rearing salmon. They should have a pretty good idea of what's going on with them.

Other than not providing financial and political support how can one get their attention? Like Bay Wolf, Salmo, and Rivrguy have detailed, they don't intend to change.

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#1014213 - 09/22/19 10:55 AM Re: Willapa Policy Reveiw [Re: Rivrguy]
Salmo g. Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/08/99
Posts: 12550
Darth baiter,

Cutting WDFW's budget won't improve fishing; not immediately at least. I'm fairly certain of that. My strategy is on a longer game, not near term.

My strategy is aimed at getting WDFW to appreciate where its money comes from, recognizing that fishing license buyers are the principle constituents of its Fish Program, and making clear by example that biting the hand that feeds it is bad business policy. To do so, we have to make the Department hurt in the only way that it recognizes, and that is the budget.

In the near term I expect WDFW, as a reactionary agency, to retaliate by cutting expenses in the area that still benefit recreational angling for anadromous fish. But let's consider a reduction in hatchery funding. At present 72.8% of hatchery funding is for salmon and steelhead, mostly salmon. At present, recreational anglers get pathetically little in return of hatchery steelhead these days, and the lion's share of hatchery salmon accrue to B.C. and WA commercial and treaty fishing, not recreational. We're just about at the point where, as recreational anglers, it's appropriate to ask, "What do we have left to lose?"

I suggested that WDFW audit hatcheries based on their return to WA recreational angling per $ spent. The Department replied that it continually assesses hatchery performance, as if I don't already know that. Of course CWT is used to evaluate SAR and harvest contributions to the various fisheries. But I haven't seen any compilation of how much of the money spent returns to WA sportfishing. Looking at where the most WA sport salmon originate, seems to be the Columbia River (ocean sport, CR and trib. sport) which mainly gets its funding from hydro mitigation and Mitchell Act (federal money), not from WA GF or license fees. I think if WDFW needs to save some money, the first course of action is to shut down or convert hatcheries that return very few fish to WA sport fishers.

BTW, a word about commercial and treaty fishing. First, I'm not opposed to either. I'm simply opposed to subsidizing them when there is no benefit to my sport fishing interest. If NT commercial fishermen want to contribute more financially to the hatchery salmon they harvest, by all means, please do. I'm just not interested in paying for it with my taxes or license fees. Same with treaty fishing, although I understand the special legal status it enjoys.

WDFW does have some leverage that it apparently does not employ. In US - Canada negotiations, WDFW could advance the position that unless a reasonable proportion of the fish WA produces accrue to WA sport fishing, WA will no longer produce those hatchery fish caught by Canada. Same with treaty fishing. While the tribes are entitled to their legal share and allocation, unless a reasonable proportion of the hatchery fish are allowed to accrue to WA sport fishing, then WDFW will no longer produce those hatchery salmon. The tail should not wag the dog. (It has not been legally adjudicated that WA must produce hatchery salmon for treaty fishing, only that treaty fishing rights do apply to those salmon that are produced in hatcheries.)

WA NT commercial and treaty fishermen make up less than 2% of the state population. That means that most of WDFW's funding comes from the other 98% of taxpayers and license purchasers. In a pay-to-play environment, WA sport fishers are being way more than severely short-changed. Unless the equation can be shifted to provide some economic equity to the WA sport fishery, we should simply stop paying to produce most of those salmon that come from the 72.8% of WDFW's hatchery budget.

If WDFW feels sufficient pain, then the possibility exists that it will choose to direct its efforts toward those constituents who provide the Department's money. I don't see that happening without the pain occurring first. Look at it in the context of personal life and relationships: A person tries drugs (GF and abundant license fees) and enjoys the experience and finally becomes addicted and has to steal money from family, friends, and strangers (taxpayers) to continue feeding the habit (hatchery salmon for Canada and commercial fishing). The addict cannot and won't change (rehab) until they hit rock bottom (they lose their job (funding) children leave, spouse divorces them, and just maybe, they finally see that the only positive future is a drug free (spending sport $ on Canada and commercial fishing) lifestyle, where actions do have consequences, so they choose positive actions to achieve positive consequences (funding sufficient to support programs that benefit the people who pay for them).

Or, we can continue along the current pathway, lobby our Legislature for a GF increase, license fee increase, and our reward will be more Puget Sound river recreational fishing closures (ala Stillaguamish & Skokomish) until all PS rivers are closed to sportfishing (a goal of some PS tribes) and even more PS marine water salmon fishing is closed. This is the future, and it is coming to a region and state near you if you live in western WA.

We have choices to make. I don't want to be an activist. I'd rather go fishing. But it's not hard to see that without activism, there will be precious little fishing in the not-to-distant future. When WDFW decides to work for me, I will work for WDFW. Quid pro quo. Pretty simple.

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#1014214 - 09/22/19 11:19 AM Re: Willapa Policy Reveiw [Re: Salmo g.]
Spoonfedhead Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 01/29/19
Posts: 466
Nailed it salmo. Especially the last two paragraphs.
I've lived in Washington my whole life along with many others here.
We have seen our tax and license money do nothing to help our local fisheries.
I'm with you salmo. The state is not scratching our backs why should we fund them.
If they raise license fees and we loose fisheries, I will sell all my salmon/steel gear. I got way more pride than that. As much as I love to fish, I will not help fund an agency that is not in it for the people that like you said helps fund about 98%.
You guys can give me grief. I will still have my pride and not be pushed over.

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#1014215 - 09/22/19 11:54 AM Re: Willapa Policy Reveiw [Re: Spoonfedhead]
Bay wolf Offline
Spawner

Registered: 10/26/12
Posts: 928
Loc: Graham, WA
Originally Posted By: Spoonfedhead
Nailed it salmo. Especially the last two paragraphs.
I've lived in Washington my whole life along with many others here.
We have seen our tax and license money do nothing to help our local fisheries.
I'm with you salmo. The state is not scratching our backs why should we fund them.
If they raise license fees and we loose fisheries, I will sell all my salmon/steel gear. I got way more pride than that. As much as I love to fish, I will not help fund an agency that is not in it for the people that like you said helps fund about 98%.
You guys can give me grief. I will still have my pride and not be pushed over.


It could not have been illustrated better Salmo. However, let me play devils advocate for just a moment.

As eloquent as your argument is, unless there is a paradigm shift in the mindset of the recreational fishing community, where it is believed that "some fishing is better than no fishing", you are yelling in the wilderness. I would imagine it will not be long, before one of these short sited thinkers will post a reply to you that reads something like:

"Go ahead, stop fishing. Leaves more for me."

I don't know what it will take, but we are being killed off slowly and methodically, like the analogy of boiling a frog. And unfortunately, too many guys are so busy trying to catch the last fish, they don't see the mountain disappearing a pebble at a time.

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#1014216 - 09/22/19 12:20 PM Re: Willapa Policy Reveiw [Re: Bay wolf]
Spoonfedhead Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 01/29/19
Posts: 466
Thats ok I'll have more money in my pocket and have my pride intact.
That means a lot more to me than catching the last coho in the river.
We depend on the state with our funding to help manage our recourses and solve these problems when they arise, that is what we pay them for. All we get in return is smaller fisheries, More closures and shrugged shoulders when we question them.
I understand we all have a little part to play when it comes to protecting our recources wether it small or big.
They have scientists/biologists that are trained to know these problems and taught how to fix them. We shouldn't be the ones to show these guys the answers that are right in front of them, in which they turn the other cheek.
We need a leader that's going to go to bat for the people.
That last paragraph was dead on bay wolf. We need to pray for the west side of WA. It's slowly going in the chitter.
Kind of off topic but another problem by the state that they cannot fix is the population boom over the last 30 years. They have no problem selling all the building permits in the world and clogging up all of our side streets we used to use to avoid the already screwed freeway system here with no more room for road expansion. We have to suffer at the hand of the state and their negligence and greed to rake it all in, at any cost.


Edited by Spoonfedhead (09/22/19 12:39 PM)

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#1014217 - 09/22/19 12:29 PM Re: Willapa Policy Reveiw [Re: Rivrguy]
Geoduck Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 08/10/02
Posts: 421
I think Smalma hit the nail on the head. The legislature does not care.
The idea that sportsfishermen can motivate our lawmakers is laughable, either for pro or anti-WDFW legislation. I doubt we could collectively lobby as a group for budget cuts and be effective. Unless there is someone willing to pony up lots of lobbying $$$. Generally sportsfishermen don't have that kind of dough.

I also agree with Salmo that very little besides its budget motivates WDFW. Avoiding lawsuits is another apparent motivating factor for WDFW.

Certainly bang for the buck in hatchery production is not a consideration.
Returning back to Willapa bay rather than generic WDFW bashing, it was clear from the outset of the WB policy discussions that the only chinook hatchery producing significant returns for willapa bay marine anglers was forks creek (based on CWT data). Despite this they plowed ahead with the policy we now have that gutted forks creek and said it would not matter due to increased production from the naselle (never mind that Naselle origin CWT contribute almost nothing for the marine catch). Obviously the policy has failed recreational anglers.

The exact scenario Salmo alluded to above is at play in WB right now. The WB hatcheries benefit the Canadian chinook fisheries, Alaska chinook fisheries, private access only in-river chinook fisheries on the Nemah River, and WB gillnet fisheries (in that order). It makes very little sense to pay the freight on these hatcheries for the rank and file recreational marine angler given they have no meaningful access to the fish produced.

Given WDFWs systemic unwillingness to listen to rank and file anglers, I think drastic actions will likely be required to get their attention. I am certainly about done attending advisory groups, NOF meetings, etc. Also, writing letters gets one nothing but platitudes if you are lucky.

I agree that something significantly disruptive will likely be required for WDFW to consider changing the status quo and end the fisheries management malpractice we've been experiencing for the past decade or so. I had hoped that a new director would shake up the agency to address these issues, but his approach appears to be doubling down on status quo. Disappointing.

I think there are two approaches that might yield change, but at high cost:
1. A license purchase boycott
2. Lawsuits

While personally I find both approach # 1 and #2 distasteful, I don't see another path forward that will get WDFW to recognize they are failing us and we pay their bills.

I think either of the above have significant downsides and may have very deleterious unintended consequences. The lobbying approach mentioned above, will almost certainly fail, but even if successful has the same scattershot risk of unintended consequence. Are there other options that might motivate change in the agency without risking its destruction? I have not heard or thought of others that seem workable. Maybe some creative thinking is in order.

thoughts?
_________________________
Dig Deep!

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#1014218 - 09/22/19 12:47 PM Re: Willapa Policy Reveiw [Re: Geoduck]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 3275
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope

Doubt #1 would work as people are people. #2 is the only option that will force change. Every time they break a rule for anything sue their lips off. Nothing else will get any changes.

Oh, it is always about budget but they will never trim back non essential staff. WDFW is so top heavy now a days I am not sure they can let alone know how to shed things that are not necessary. It is not in the agency culture.
_________________________
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

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#1014222 - 09/22/19 05:02 PM Re: Willapa Policy Reveiw [Re: Rivrguy]
jgreen Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 04/18/12
Posts: 258
Loc: Elma, WA
I just don’t understand “I’m going to sell all my gear/boat/truck and stop fishing” mindset.

Just fish. Sure, it might send a message if a bunch of recreational anglers stopped buying licenses. That’s step one. Step 2: keep fishing. In big groups, without punch cards or licenses. Make them ticket you and go to court in big groups together.

Why take your ball and go home, when you can have yours and the states ball? I’m not going to quit fishing, neither should you.

Why not start a fb event and have a bunch of unlicensed fisherman fish a local river, in protest to the anti recreational fishing attitude of the WDFW.

It’s not about being a badass. It’s about really sticking it to the state. If you quit, and sell your gear, they win.

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#1014224 - 09/22/19 05:24 PM Re: Willapa Policy Reveiw [Re: Rivrguy]
Salmo g. Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/08/99
Posts: 12550
Geoduck posted: " The lobbying approach mentioned above, will almost certainly fail, . . ."

This alternative has potential. I believe that because in the last Legislative session (2019), recreational anglers, nudged by CCA, lobbied the Legislature against WDFW's requested General Fund increase, license fee increase, and extension of the Columbia River Endorsement fee. And all three went down in flames. The primary motivator was WDFW and the Commission double-crossing sportfishing by rescinding the 2013 Columbia River policy to phase out non-treaty gillnetting in the lower Columbia River. That action had such horribly bad optics, I'm still astonished that the Department and Commission didn't expect the outcome to be any different than it was.

So lobbying the Legislature has potential. And if we can cause sufficient financial pain to WDFW, and they know who and why it's happening, then that creates the environment where they can decide to change by stop expecting us to pay them to screw over sport fishing for anadromous fish. That does not mean that sport fishing for salmon will be like the good old days, because those days and ocean survival conditions are gone. It does mean that sport fishing for salmon can be better than what they are presently providing, and they can stop closing river fishing at tribal insistence by choosing to get their own NMFS' Section 10 ESA coverage, independent of riding the tribal/BIA Section 7 shirttail.

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#1014227 - 09/22/19 06:57 PM Re: Willapa Policy Reveiw [Re: Salmo g.]
Geoduck Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 08/10/02
Posts: 421
Salmo,

I hope you're right, but doubt it.

I totally agree that the troutfishing in particular as been victimized by WDFWs refusal to stand up for recreational fishing. The department of salmon moniker that the hunters use really does fit.

Consider that WDFW has eliminated major trout fisheries and even closed lake washingotn spiny ray fishing (!) for the sake of tribal concerns about salmon impacts over the past few years.

The trout fishing issue has been really counter productive considering that the put an take trout fishing in this state pays more license fees than any other activity.
_________________________
Dig Deep!

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