2/7/15 COMMISSION HEARING WILLAPA POLICY
Well today's Commission hearing was interesting for a couple of reasons. First up it will be June at the earliest for the final approval of the new Willapa Policy. The stream & fish designations being moved all over is going to be addressed. A good case was made for getting a clear stock designation for North River Chinook was made. Commissioner Carpenter made a clear case that at some point compromise will be needed by the harvesters. A Willapa Rec Adviser pointed out that if conservation is required that as the Commercials get 90% of the harvest then one could reasonably assume that they shoulder 90% of the new conservation burden. From the Commercial side not much new.
Below is my input from the hearing.
Testimony Willapa Management Policy 2/7/15:
Good morning Commissioners my name is Dave Hamilton and I would like to thank you for providing time for citizens to address the issue of the Willapa Management Policy. The two issues I would like to bring to your attention are seldom discussed but always present.
First I would bring to your attention the issue of stream & stock designations. Within HSRG you have stream designations of Primary, Contributing, Stabilizing and stock designations of Integrated and Segregated. All have very definite definitions of the meaning of the designations. Nearly ten years ago after the development of HSRG a WDF&W Science Division staffer put it to my team this way. "Rules are rules, you do not pick and choose and it is not multiple choice". This is what myself and my team was taught by WDF&W staff but it appears that present agency staff feel otherwise. The agency position as presented thus far in the Willapa appears to be that WDF&W staff believe they can assign the most convenient designation of a stream to allow the largest hatchery production. Additionally, as in option C, staff apparently feel they can classify a stock such as Naselle Chinook segregated even if it fails to meet the standards for a segregated stock and then harvest the stock to that designation. Words do or are supposed to have very a definite meaning so do the words in HSRG mean what is written or are open to whatever interpretation is needed to allow the largest hatchery production and harvest? I firmly believe this issue needs to directly addressed by the Commission if HSRG is to succeed.
My second issue is simply the misrepresentation of the conflict over harvest of hatchery production between Recreational and Commercial harvesters. Several times in the process the Commercial representatives have stated that the local legislators would not support the hatchery production if the Commercials did not get the vast majority of the harvest. I guess one can view it that way if they so desire but frankly it matters little to the Recreational fisher. For many years and in particular since 2010, the Recreational fisher has had little access to these hatchery fish as the agency has utilized a massive gillnetting effort removing the vast majority of the hatchery production. Additionally Recreational seasons and bag limits were constructed in such a way as to severely limit the Recreational anglers success to further enable greater Commercial harvest.
So Commissioners these are the facts as I see it. WDF&W can cut hatchery production in the Willapa Estuary 60% or more and the Recreational fisher will not see much difference. Each year WDF&W spends hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Willapa hatchery production that is in reality a massive subsidy for the Commercial gillnet fleet. Twice in the process a Commercial fisher has testified that they do not make enough off the harvest to afford the fuel for a one hour run down the bay outside 2T. It is time to ask the question " why is WDF&W spending these hundreds of thousands of dollars for a Commercial fishery that is not really a viable one but rather a massive subsidy for Commercial gillnetting paid for by Recreational license dollars". In a recent resolution the Commission has stated this will not be the case in the future and Recreational license dollars will not be used to support Commercial hatchery production. So again we have a issue that the Commission needs to address. Does WDF&W continue this massive subsidy of a Commercial fishery in this time ever greater needs and budget reductions or do we chart a new course as HSRG is implemented?
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Willapa Management Policy .
Posted on Sat, February 7, 2015
by Dave Hamilton