WILLAPA CES CONVERSATION

WILLAPA CES CONVERSATION

The Willapa CES on page 32 had this gem. It is the response to a citizen objections to favoritism shown the commercial fisheries. The most disturbing part of this is that Willapa is managed to the commercial side to achieve statewide balance for commercial / Rec. This is utter BS and why Willapa is important to ALL Rec fishers. Now the bit below where the CES more or less says the Commission must agree as they have not objected or provided different guidance. I will us take back several months when the Commission Chair Wecker grilled Mr. Anderson on the issue if the Agency was going to bring Willapa to the Commission for review. Watching Mr. Anderson stammer around trying not to give a direct answer was a classic.

So part of the settlement with the Advocacy was the Agency has to ask the Commission to reopen the Willapa Management Plan. It is about to be ground zero on how you create a management plan that respects natural stocks, protects them, and provide maximum economic benefit on the harvest of hatchery fish. That isn't with a gillnet and the massive economic loss to Pacific County tourism as a destination fishing region has been catastrophic for Pacific County. Nah I doubt if the Commission truly understands what has been done to Willapa during the time Mr. Anderson has been Director but I do believe they are about to learn.

1) Many commenters expressed that the Department did not properly assess the economic value of each fishery sector.

The Department understands there is value in both recreational and commercial fisheries. Commercial fisheries are easier to assess. Market prices and the number of fish caught and sold are known values. Reporting requirement of the commercial fishery allows for quick processing of data. Evaluation of the recreational fishery isn’t as simple. There are limited creel survey data available for the marine area recreational fishery that could be used to estimate effort and subsequent economic value of the fishery. There are no recent data available for freshwater fisheries in Willapa Bay. In order to make an estimate of effort, the Department would have to make assumptions about individual angler catch rates, likely by using data from other basins.

The Commission North of Falcon policy notes: “Willapa Bay harvest management objectives shall include meaningful opportunities for both recreational and commercial fisheries” and “When assessed from a statewide perspective, fishing directed at chinook, coho, pink, sockeye, or chum salmon will not be exclusively reserved for either sport or commercial users.” The adopted rules are predicted to provide

$662,759 in ex-vessel value for the commercial sector (compared with a preliminary estimated ex-value of $638,000 in 2013).

However, the comment suggests that WDFW needs to allocate catch between sectors based on economic value derived from the fish harvested. This issue is much more complex given the “statewide perspective” direction in policy. A simplistic re-allocation within Willapa Bay would not address the balance of opportunities across the state. The majority of Chinook and coho are prioritized for recreational fisheries in most other regions. For example: “The Puget Sound harvest management objectives for chinook and coho stocks, in priority order, are to: (1) provide meaningful recreational fishing opportunities; and (2) identify and provide opportunities for commercial harvest.” Willapa Bay is the one region of the state where pre-season planning has resulted in more Chinook and coho harvested by the commercial sector on a regular basis over the past decade. The Department has complied with specific policy direction to allocate resources when provided. No such direction has been provided in Willapa Bay, suggesting that the Commission is comfortable with the current opportunity and catch balance. WDFW anticipates that the Fish and Wildlife Commission will be reviewing Willapa Bay salmon management this fall and additional guidance will be forthcoming. In lieu of current prescriptive guidance regarding opportunity and catch sharing, the Department believes the adopted rules provide meaningful fisheries for both sectors and comply with Commission policy.

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