A CITIZENS COMMENTS ON THE WILLAPA PLAN

A CITIZENS COMMENTS ON THE WILLAPA PLAN

Here are some comments from a Willapa rec fisher from out of state. Agree or disagree with his views he took the time to put forth his views and be involved. That is important as a citizen participation is what this process underway for Willapa is all about. The more diverse all our views the better as it allows all to get true reading of what citizens feel.

 

Dave

 

                                                Ref:  Draft Willapa Bay Salmon Management Policy Document

Dear Mr. Thiesfield:

As an out-of-state salmon sport fishing enthusiast, I appreciate the opportunity to comment on the above referenced draft document dated January 12, 2015.  I have fished Willapa Bay (specifically area 2T, 2U & the Wash Away Beach area) for the past 14 years.  I continue to support the development of the Willapa River section of Willapa Bay into a world class sport Chinook salmon fishery.  We now have the opportunity to create such a fishery through the implementation of a revised version of the prior mentioned policy document.  My comments are presented with this goal in mind!

Please understand that I support the restoration and maintenance of wild salmon populations.  However, as we develop plans to ensure the continuation of wild Chinook runs on the Willapa River we must provide time to implement presently untried and possible currently unthought-of options for the removal, or significant reduction in the number, of Chinook hatchery fish on the spawning beds located within the Willapa River’s watershed.  It has taken us decades to finally accept the fact that wild salmon play a significant role in maintaining biodiversity, and that there are too many hatchery Chinook on our natural spawning beds.  We will NOT resolve these issues overnight!  In addressing these issues we must NOT take knee jerk reactions that will seriously impact the current quality of the Willapa River Chinook fishery.  Reducing hatchery production at the Fork Creek Hatchery, is, in my opinion, a knee jerk reaction and should only be taken after all other option have through infield trials proved to be inadequate.

          As a result, I do not support the implementation of either Alternative A or B as currently presented in the draft Policy document as both of these alternatives reduce the Chinook output of the Forks Creek Hatchery.  Thus, by default, I support the implementation of Alternative C.

There are numerous actions we can take immediately if we are truly interested in increasing the number of wild Chinook returning to the Willapa River watershed while reducing the number of hatchery Chinook found on the Willapa River watershed’s spawning beds.  However, in taking such actions we must ensure that sufficient numbers of hatchery fish arrive at the Forks Creek Hatchery to achieve Hatchery production goals.  Examples of such actions are:
1. Remove gillnets from Area 2T and 2U.  Commercial fishers shall implement selective harvest methods.
2. Allow commercial fishers to harvest hatchery Chinook within the upper section of 2U prior to September 15th.
3. Sport fishers shall neither land nor net wild Chinook.
4. Sport fishers shall use barbless hooks with no more that 2 hooks per rig.
5. Increase sport harvest of hatchery Chinook through the establishment of higher daily and seasonal limits within Area 2T and 2U.
6. Remove the restriction of the number of rods sport fishers may use per fishing license when fishing within Area 2T and 2U.
7. Increase sport fisher harvest of hatchery Chinook within that portion of the Willapa River watershed located upstream of the Forks Creek Hatchery through the establishment of generous daily and seasonal limits.
8. Remove hatchery Chinook from high quality spawning beds which are located within the Willapa River watershed upstream of the Forks Creek Hatchery through the use of seine nets.  Use volunteers to perform this task.  Let the volunteers keep all hatchery Chinook so harvested.
9. Use fish traps on small streams located within the Willapa River to remove hatchery Chinook.  Use volunteers to monitor these traps and allow these volunteers to keep all hatchery Chinook found in such traps.  They of course would release all wild Chinook found in said traps.
10. As needed, implement other reasonable ideas as they become available for the selective removal of hatchery Chinook from the portion of the Willapa River watershed located above the Forks Creek Hatchery.

In addition, to increase the sport fishing opportunities within the 2T and 2U areas of Willapa Bay I support keeping these areas essentially commercial net free for the period beginning August 1st through September 15th of each year.  Further, the current area defined as 2U should be divided into 2 section, an upstream and downstream section.  The upstream would be defined starting at Raymond and proceed downstream to the Raymond airport.   The downstream section would begin at the Raymond airport and proceed downstream to the Range Marker.  Commercial fishers would be allowed early season harvest of hatchery Chinook in the upper reach of the area 2U during the August 1st through September 15th time period.  After September 15th commercial harvest would be allowed harvest throughout the 2T and 2U areas per State established seasons.

This division of the area 2U would allow sport fishers to again fish the area immediately around and upstream of the Range Marker.  Historically, this was a very productive sport fishing area and safely accessible by small boats launched at Raymond.  Recently, the commercial fleet has essentially dominated this area.  My experience has been that once the commercial fleet is fishing in an area, sport fishing will not be productive in said area until at least 3 days following the conclusion of the commercial fishing event.

Thanks for providing me with the opportunity to provide input into your very important policy document.  If I may be of any assistance please consider me a volunteer!