2015 CHINOOK ESCAPENT AND THE COMING CRASH

2015 CHINOOK ESCAPENT AND THE COMING CRASH

Hi all,

In working on another issue Mike from R6 provided me this quick look at last fall's returns for Chinook. Keep in mind this is preliminary.

The preliminary natural spawning escapement (all fish putting eggs in the gravel) for fall Chinook in the Chehalis looks to be a bit over 16,000, and about 6,000 in the Hump this fall.  I haven’t received the age data back from this group, but it will be interesting to see if the age structure is different from the past.

Look at it this way. The Fall Chinook came in fairly close to on time but a bit early and ramped up really fast. The QIN took a look after their first week of fishing and pulled for conservation. That is what saved our butts as that week is the difference between Chinook making and not making escapement. On the states side the 3 net free days ( known as 4/3 )  and the requirement to make escapement 3 out of 5 years or no targeted harvest ( known as 3/5 ) also played a major role. Imagine a full blown Rec fishery with retention coupled with QIN harvest and it would have been a disaster. So atta boys to both managers here for this issue.

While Coho numbers are not in yet the differences between how the Coho and Chinook were managed is amazing. Right out of the gate nobody believed the monster run in the preseason forecast. Then from the get go the ocean Coho harvesters performed way below expectations right to the terminal fisheries. The bay Recs early on brought the lots of Chinook but no Coho thing forward followed by the inriver Recs. The QIN harvest ( when they released the numbers but they knew ) showed harvest well below expectations. Then the state went in with the NT Nets and wella the same results. So shut down by the state and we GH Advisers were told the QIN did not agree.

Why such a difference in how the two stocks were managed? My personal opinion is they simply did not believe that Coho forecast could be that far off. Far off? Oh h--- folks it was not even close to reality. OK that said why disregard all the indicators and full speed ahead? It was a complete system failure by ALL the managers marine & fresh water to be sure, particularly with the ocean harvest showing a rather large problem that was simply ignored. This was compounded by  both WDF&W & QIN staff's  refusal to recognize the depth of the failure. So no atta boy here but rather a bit fat F minus and frankly that is a generous grade!

I will finish with this. Changes are coming and they are going to be difficult. First the ocean ( known as the ranch ) is collapsing for salmon production. We have a monster El Nino underway ( see El Nino attachment ) and the ocean PDO is collapsing. ( again see attachment PDO ) This has happened before and will again. Look at the attachment 2015 forecast & RR tab which is run reconstruction to see complete runs with harvest. This will likely going result in massive harvest restrictions both marine and fresh water. Now add to the problem is ocean intercept fisheries that has Alaska and British Columbia fisheries Chinook impacts over 80% then the situation becomes draconian.

This is where the gut check for terminal Rec fisheries particularly inriver comes in to play.  The number of Rec fishers from outside Grays Harbor will continue to grow and that fact is undeniable. That the Rec fisher as a harvester is the most quarrelsome harvester is also undeniable. Banki vs jet boat vs drift boat vs purest ( oh my god they are flossing ) vs rules? what rules group vs locals vs traveling Wilburies vs guides ........ well I think that paints the picture. The fact is rather sooner than later the changes will happen. Simply put there is no way no how we are all going to be able to fish the same way the same places we have for years with all the competing interest outlined previously.

So what to do? Not sure but I can tell you it will be contentious. Heavens going South with friends this came up chatting followed by one really big argument. Which I do believe is a indicator on how deep this issue will be. We are in a time where the number of fishers is going to increase rapidly with our proximity to Puget Sound ( which is headed for the dumpster ) and decreasing runs in the short term at the least.

So folks think about it. How are we going to do this? WDF&W left to its own devises will get you what happened this year with the limited reopening after the Rec closure. Simply put the openings were not well structured or thought out  is my view. Others use words that I have been known to use but probably should not be put in writing. So think about it, how do we working with the Agency get this done? Simply put ain't no way no how that WDF&W staff have the time, staff , knowledge of the Chehalis Basin or the money to do it.

Think about it because the issue is just around the corner.

Dave

PS: If you want the attachments mentioned just e mail me and I will send them 

 

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