A INRIVER FISHERS PERSPECTIVE
Here is a local Willapa inriver fishers thoughts on the Willapa Plan. Anyone who fishes the rivers in the Willapa Estuary should being paying attention and participating in the process. Inriver fishers have had a history of getting hosed in the season setting process.
The Commission's enhanced involvement in Willapa Bay Salmon Management matters is much appreciated. I am writing to ask you and your fish committee to give strong consideration to subject resolutions. These resolutions are well designed to ensure needed recreational and conservation enhancements in our drainage.
1. A recreational priority on Coastal Fall Chinook must come to pass, or a lot of people will feel that we have just been running laps for many weeks.
2. The impacts on Natural Origin spawners must be distributed in a manner fair to all citizens and user groups and to conservation goals. In the past years, these impacts have been over-implemented in our marine areas, leaving little or none for fresh water areas and the gravel. Required brood stocking levels within hatcheries have been impossible, and our Chinook are tinier than ever accordingly. As a result of the marine harvest bias, goals were routinely missed and large percentages of our rivers such as the Nemah and Naselle were unavailable to the public for fishing, even to the landowners. We have learned the obvious; fish that are gone cannot be created by not fishing or placing numerous tackle and technique restrictions on sport fishers. The cohort with the best statistics for true selective fishing is just left out of the selective process. They fish jammed into smaller areas.
3. The resolution to allocate NOS impacts is key going forward. Drastic measures are appropriate. While a 50% commercial/25%marine recreational/25% fresh water recreational breaks with tradition, that is truly the only reason this may seem drastic to some. In season management will be essential in 2015 in a realistic manner never utilized before. Last year non-selective gill nets were put on chinook in our marine areas when no impacts were even available. These nets, and a more selective marine sport fishery in 2T, were put on fish in front of rivers with large sections closed to recreational fishing for "conservation" reasons. For a period of time, fresh water fishers were required to release unmarked fish on the same days that netters were keeping them.
4. Harvest must be allocated to all fresh water where conservation does not preclude it. Landowners should decide how many people fish on their land, not the state, unless there are reasons that cannot be managed away. In both the Nemah and Naselle, there are also state owned areas below hatcheries where HOS can be harvested with a pole. Volunteers can be utilized to not only release unmarked fish, but place them above the weirs, where many never arrive otherwise. When numbers increase, they can be hatchery placed for broodstocking. Many unmarked fish are reluctant to enter hatcheries. A four wheeler with a trailer and recovery box can do the job. It is time to return fair opportunity for these fish to the public and landowners who pay their taxes, and suffer restricted timber harvest, not to provide more marine impact to all others to the landowners exclusion.
5. Last year Region 6 tried to encourage a "test" fishery across the mouth of the Nemah River for commercials. At the same time the public was not allowed to catch fish in much of this river including below the weir on public land. The mortality rate is officially much lower for the pole than for beach seining, purse seining, or tangle netting. This is the culture that will not be overcome without continued big picture leadership and follow up by the commission.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Posted on Mon, February 2, 2015
by Dave Hamilton