Some folks are questioning the seasons for 2018 this fall. The dates are up in another thread so you have that part. As to rational PM me and I will forward the e mail sent by Chad for R-6 staff on the reasons they ended up where they did. If you did not receive it then you are flying blind but ask and you shall receive! The e mail is from R-6 and is rather forthright explanation of this falls salmon season. Staff stumbled at the start of NOF due to the confusion on ocean numbers and not being willing to turn loose the model. Midway with the public meetings they failed miserably but they pulled it together and finished strong. No BS just the ugly truth straight at ya. That is acceptable always even if one views the outcome differently simply because folks no matter what staff does someone will be upset with something. Coming right at us with the unvarnished truth makes some upset but someone will be upset no matter what. So they sucked it up and came right at us. Give them credit folks because that is not a easy thing for any agency staff to do let alone WDF&W.
Now you East County folks. Look down to the graph and zero in and the % of catch by week. It is October that is the greatest impact which can limit the front and back of the season. Reduce October by time limitations ( days ) or catch and you can extend the season front and back sides. Now this would adversely effect the those from outside the area the most & benefit the local residents the most. So here is the rub guys. If you do not attend the meetings then the views of folks who do will be front and center. This is a squeaky wheels gets fish thing so if you do not put in the time you have no bitch. Whatever your thoughts there needs to be a lot more inland butts setting in chairs next year or don't bitch.
Anyhow I give credit for staff for taking US head on and being forthright. From my chair it is the best way to go.
During the last North of Falcon meeting on April 17th, the Department released its proposal for salmon fisheries occurring within the Grays Harbor Basin for 2018. During this meeting we received some input from the public to re-evaluate the proposed season for freshwater fisheries. Specifically, took assess the two adult bag limit and season duration in order to possibly extend the salmon season into December. Also, the Fish and Wildlife Commission has received some e-mails regarding this topic. Regional staff conducted an analysis of the proposed Grays Harbor season for 2018 and drafted a response. What follows below is the agency’s response to those commission e-mails and a synopsis of the analyses results.
First, let me say, thank you for your interest and attendance of our Grays Harbor North of Falcon (NOF) salmon season setting process. It is important for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to get representation and input from all user groups in regards to the shape and scope of salmon seasons within our management and conservation objectives for the upcoming 2018 season. As the Department considers a proposal for this year’s salmon seasons in Grays Harbor there are some documents that guide and/or provide management and conservation objectives within any given year. These documents include, but are not limited to, U.S v. Washington (commonly referred to as the Boldt Decision), the Pacific Salmon Treaty, and the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Grays Harbor Basin Salmon Management Policy (C-3621). These documents, treaties, and federal court orders lay the foundation for which salmon seasons prosecuted in Grays Harbor are to be structured.
In regards to your request to evaluate reductions in bag limits in order to prolong Coho directed freshwater fisheries within the Grays Harbor Basin, the most constraining management objective for fisheries planning in 2018 is a 20% total exploitation rate (TER) cap required for Grays Harbor Wild Coho under the Pacific Salmon Treaty (PST). The PST designates specific coastal stocks as indicator stocks in order to reflect the health and sustainability of coastal Coho stocks in total. Grays Harbor Coho as well as, Quillayute Coho, Hoh Coho, and Queets Coho are all identified as indicator stocks in the treaty. For Grays Harbor Coho, the forecasted ocean escapement of ~42,000 is roughly 16% above the spawning escapement objective of 35,400. At this level Grays Harbor Coho fall into the “low” abundance category, which limits the TER to 20% through all fisheries, from southeast Alaska to California.
As part of the NOF salmon season setting process for fisheries in Grays Harbor, the WDFW hosted several open public meetings prior to the April meetings of the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), these are presented in Table 1 (below). The purpose of these meetings were to gather input and fishery suggestions from the advisory group and members of the public in order to craft a fishery package that met management and conservation objectives. An additional advisory meeting after the April PFMC meeting was scheduled to provide Grays Harbor advisors and the public with the proposed fishery package for Grays Harbor in 2018 (Table 1). A full meeting schedule was available on the agency website and this information was sent via e-mail to advisors and interested parties. All meeting handouts as well as audio recordings of all meetings are available on the agency’s website; https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/commercial/salmon/season_setting.html
Table 1: Advisory and Public meeting schedule for Grays Harbor Salmon Fisheries in 2018.
Meeting Type Date Location Time
Forecast meeting - Public February 26 Montesano City Hall 6 pm – 8pm
Advisory Group meeting March 19 Montesano Regional Office 6 pm – 8pm
Public meeting March 27 Montesano City Hall 6 pm – 8pm
Advisory Group meeting April 4 Montesano Regional Office 6 pm – 8pm
PFMC April 6 - 11 Portland Sheraton Hotel NA
Advisory Group meeting April 17 Montesano City Hall 6 pm – 8pm
During the advisory group meeting held on April 4, department staff informed those in attendance that the current fishery package as modeled showed a 22.5% TER for Grays Harbor Wild Coho and that further shaping would be necessary. Also preliminary modeling showed that simply reducing bag limits would not enable us to reach the objective and that shortened seasons would more than likely be required. The remainder of the meeting was utilized to take suggestions on how to shape the fishery package in order to meet this objective, these included:
- closing the commercial fishery to preserve wild Coho impacts for recreational fisheries;
- shaping all sectors fisheries to proportionally reduce impacts to wild Coho;
- closing freshwater recreational fisheries in a step-wise manner working backwards from the traditional closing date until the objective is met;
- closing freshwater recreational fisheries in systems without hatchery production;
- take actions necessary to keep freshwater recreational fisheries open until December 15.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission’s policy on Grays Harbor Basin Salmon Management (C-3621) provides the Department with guidance as to what factors should be considered when setting salmon seasons. As a general policy statement, the policy directs fishery managers to focus commercial and recreational fisheries on the harvest of abundant hatchery fish while minimizing the impacts on wild stocks. Guiding Principle #7 specifically states, “In a manner consistent with conservation objectives, fishing opportunities will be fairly distributed across fishing areas and reflect the diverse interests of WDFW-managed fishers”. Given our policy guidance along with input received through the NOF process, all fisheries were reduced proportional to their impact to wild Coho in order to meet the 20% TER objective in the Pacific Salmon Treaty. This approach resulted in the reduction of recreation salmon fishing opportunity in Marine Area 2-2 of one week in the month of September. Commercial fisheries opportunity was reduced in the final week of October. Lastly, freshwater recreational fishing opportunity for salmon during the months of December and January was removed. Proportionally freshwater recreational salmon fisheries make up 49.5% of the total impact to Grays Harbor wild Coho. Even with the reductions in the proposed fishery package mentioned above the resulting modeled TER for Grays Harbor wild Coho was estimated to be 20.7%.
During the April 17 NOF meeting, WDFW received comment that the fishery package should be re-evaluated to possibly extend or shift the freshwater recreational season to provide some salmon fishing opportunity in December. While there was not consensus among recreational interests supporting such a change, the WDFW felt it was important to review of the package in order to have a fully informed assessment supporting our decision making process. To that end, WDFW evaluated shifting the current proposed freshwater salmon season for October 1 through November 30 to October 16 through December 15. The model evaluation showed that this approach could essentially be impact neutral in regards to wild Coho. Further evaluation of total Coho harvest under this “shifting of the season” approach would result in the reduction of harvest of hatchery Coho by 278 fish; this would represent a harvest reduction of 7.1% of the total freshwater Coho harvest. Another suggestion provided at the April 17 meeting was reduce the bag limit during freshwater salmon season from a two fish adult bag limit to a one fish adult bag limit in order to extend freshwater recreational salmon opportunity into the month of December. Similar to the open-dates change, our analysis of the reduction in bag limit would reduce the total harvest of hatchery Coho and would further reduce total impact to wild Coho by approximately 30 fish. Catch Record Card (CRC) data indicates that 78% of the total Coho harvest occurs within the October to November period (Figure 1). Conversely, only 6% of the total Coho harvest takes place during the first two weeks of December.
Figure 1. Percentage of Grays Harbor Coho harvest using CRC data for the years 2002 through 2016.
It is also worth noting that regional WDFW staff have received comments during and after the April 7th advisory meeting from recreational fishers that they would not be in support of reducing the bag limit in order to extend salmon fishing opportunity within the Grays Harbor Basin. After careful consideration of the input received, Commission policy on salmon management in the Grays Harbor Basin, conservation objectives, and the additional analysis summarized above, the WDFW intends complete the rule-making process to implement the season described during the April 17 meeting; see season detail below.
MARINE AREA 2.2
Humptulips North Bay Fishery: August 1 – September 15, daily limit 2 (combined), Release wild Coho
East Grays Harbor Fishery: October 1 – November 30, daily limit 1, release Chinook
Lower Chehalis River (mouth to Hwy 107 Bridge): October 1 – November 30, daily limit 6 only 1 adult may be retained, release adult Chinook
Chehalis River and Tributaries: October 1 – November 30, daily limit 6 only 2 adults may be retained, release adult Chinook and adult wild Coho
Humptulips River: September 1 – September 30, daily limit 6 up to 2 adults may be retained of which only 1 may be a wild Chinook, release wild Coho
Humptulips River: October 1 – November 30, daily limit 6 only 1 adult may be retained, release wild adult Chinook and wild Coho
Chehalis River (to Hwy 6 Bridge near the town of Adna): May 1 – June 30, daily limit 1 adult
Chehalis River (to South Elma Bridge): August 1 – September 15, daily limit 6, release adults
Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.
Anadromous Policy Analyst – South Coast (acting)
Montesano Regional Headquarters
48 Devonshire Rd
Montesano WA, 98563