The following are comments from a AD HOC member of the Willapa Management Policy Advisers. I think his comments mirror what many others are saying. It is time for all to get their thoughts on the WMP into the Commission. For all whatever your thoughts the 14% harvest rate for the ENTIRE Willapa Estuary is critical.
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2015 11:36 PM
To: 'email@example.com'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'
Subject: Willapa Bay Policy.
Dear Commissioners and Director,
I am writing to provide feedback on the ongoing Willapa Bay salmon policy development process.
I was recruited as an ad-hoc member last year and have been following the process closely, including attendance at several of the town hall meetings, advisory meeting, and commission meetings. As a recreational angler for salmon, I view the process through the prism of angler opportunity and have advocated for a policy that maximizes economic benefits while achieving the commissions stated conservation goals.
In particular the Chinook policy options under consideration fail to maximize economic benefits relative to natural origin chinook spawners, and only one (option E) has any hope of achieving the stated conservation goals 20 years from now. As the policy process has evolved, it has become increasingly clear that WDFW staff are pursuing an agenda independent of public input that maximizes gillnet harvest at the expense of both conservation goals and other user groups. If this is really the intent of the policy, it should be clearly stated as such, and I will accept this. As it stands, the policy suggests that commercial harvest and recreational opportunity are balanced priorities secondary to achieving conservation goals.
The actual situation deviates considerably from the stated policy. At the outset of the policy development process, the commission articulated a vision for a recreational priority for chinook management giving some hope that the very least a balanced approach to allocation issues might at last be achievable. From that initial guidance, WDFW staff have somehow arrived at a policy where 4 out of 5 options will clearly increase gear conflicts between the commercial and recreational sectors and all options allocate the vast majority of impacts to the commercial fleet.
Equally important, all policy options are predicated on a more than 10-fold reduction in hatchery Chinook production at Forks Creek (from 3,200,000 to 300,000) which supports the majority of marine recreational chinook opportunity and over a third of the Willapa bay tributary freshwater opportunity for chinook. Please see attached information. Both these changes will dramatically reduce recreational Chinook catch and meaningful opportunity. I fear that once fully implemented the policy will essentially eliminate meaningful marine recreational Chinook opportunity in Willapa bay.
To conclude, it is difficult to imagine how I could be more dissatisfied with my involvement in the policy adoption process. It has become crystal clear that the entire process is governed by political considerations rather than science/conservation or public involvement. It is equally clear that all of my input to WDFW, based on a good faith analysis of existing data provided by WDFW staff, has been disregarded in the decision making process. Likewise, the process itself has been tarnished by the unprofessional behavior of several members of the advisory committee.
Taken together, my experience with the Willapa Bay advisory group and the general outcomes at NOF over the past several seasons suggest that WDFW is doing a poor job of managing the state’s salmon resources; management decisions are clearly focused on the desires of select special interest groups rather than the needs of the majority. If this downward trend continues, my family will spend its time on the water, license fees, and recreational fishing dollars outside the state of Washington as our neighbors to both the north and south do still seem to value recreational salmon fishing for its considerable economic impacts.
Posted on Fri, May 29, 2015
by Dave Hamilton