COMMENTS ON DRAFT WILLAPA POLICIES

COMMENTS ON DRAFT WILLAPA POLICIES

What we have here are the comments on the on both the Interim and permanent Willapa Policy from a meeting of participants of the Willapa Policy Process sponsored by the Advocacy.   WILLAPA PLAN

 

From the meeting came agreement from those participating on most issues but not all which is noted. Take a look and draw your own conclusions but all should keep this in mind. To come to a compromise view takes just that, compromise. In some instances the document does not reflect my personal views but I support it. Why? Because it is a compromise. The meeting was an attempt to bring wildly differing views to a place that if not all most could support. In the world of fish in Grays Harbor & Willapa it has been in most cases "my way or the highway". The Advocacy is trying to chart a new way of doing things where issues are vetted and solutions found.  

 

So take a look and if you have questions just e mail me as always. I was not able to get a perfect cut & paste here but is about as good as I could get it.

 

 

 

Twin Harbors Fish & Wildlife Advocacy

PO Box 179

McCleary, WA 9855 THFWA@comcast.net

 

 

Meeting Minutes, March 18, 2015

 

Place: Timberland Public Library Community Room (Elma) Time:  3PM - 7 PM

 


Invitees:


 

Tim Hamilton (ad hoc) Ron Schweitzer

Art Holman Joe Frawley Dave Hamilton

Marlissa Dougan (ad hoc) Ross Barkhurst (ad hoc) Gary Johnson

Bill Osborn Loren Gee

*Brian Kraemer (ad hoc) Joe Koski

John Campbell

Norm Reinhardt (ad hoc) John Rabey

Francis Estallia (ad hoc) LeeRoy Wisner (ad hoc) Bob Mulhauser (ad hoc) Joe Durham

*  Not in attendance


 

 Meeting Purpose:  Discussion of latest WB draft permanent policy and the draft interim policy for the 2015 season to determine where those invited could develop and agree or not agree on recommended changes for transmission to WDFW.

 

Actions Taken:  Recommended changes to the draft permanent policy and the draft interim policy were adopted.  All recommendations were adopted unanimously and the exception of 2 where two attendees voiced reservations.

 

Methodology: The Advocacy developed a meeting presentation that acted as an agenda. Region 6 Manager Steve Theisfeld provided copies of the interim policy


Page 2, WB Policy Meeting Minutes 1/18/2015

 

that was being released and made a 45 minute presentation and took questions on the two drafts prior to the group going into closed session. Participants expressed appreciation for his attendance and efforts to find solutions to the problems in WB. During the closed session, participants in the meeting shared concerns over the current drafts of the permanent and interim policy drafts currently presented to the public in the workshops and ad hoc meetings. Different solutions to those concerns were presented orally and noted on the white board in a general description. Robust discussions occurred and all present stated their approval or disapproval of each solution placed on the board. The compromise solutions approved during the meeting are paraphrased (by Tim Hamilton) as “recommendations” in these minutes and identified below (not in chronological order). While all invitees have been provided a copy of these minutes, the minutes presented herein have not been formally approved by those present at the meeting.

 

Current draft WB permanent policy:

 

Recapping and highlighting some of the commentary:

 

   All of the AHA modeling conducted during the ad hoc process showed the different alternatives would require a reduction in the maximum harvest rate to 14% to reach long range recover goals in 16-21 yrs. The draft under all 3 Chinook Alternatives calls for a 20% harvest rate in the first phase which could delay the beginning of the recovery process up to 5 or more years. Further, the higher than modeled harvest rate proposed by the Dept. could continue the decline in NOR return run size to the point natural spawning recovery is delayed for decades and even limit future hatchery production (lack of NORs available for blending into hatchery broodstocks). While a 20% short term harvest would allow a greater harvest of returns from the higher past releases from hatcheries, the corresponding effect on NORs could create extremely difficult obstacles for the long term. The likelihood conservation goals could be reached would improve if harvest in the short term was reduced (10% suggested) to reverse the decline in NOR spawners and then raise it in the future to the 14% modeled using AHA.

 

    The Department historically has not effectively used inseason monitoring and adjustments to keep actual harvest from exceeding the preseason expectation. In 2014, the harvest rate was reduced from 30% to 20% yet the actual harvest came in at 37.5%. Fishing above preseason expectation simply must stop in order for any management plan to have a chance to be successful in reaching escapement goals and recovery of natural spawning Chinook in WB.

 

    Of the three Chinook alternatives, only Alternative C includes a harvest rate on both the Willapa and Naselle and sets guidelines for a commercial season that AHA modeling shows a potential to achieve recovery goals within a 16-21 year period, provided the harvest rate of 14% is not exceeded. Insuring an adequate NOR escapement in the Naselle is a key to increasing hatchery production that is shifted from the Willapa to the Naselle. Additionally, Alternative A and especially Alternative B, show little if any potential to ever reach the restoration goals over the next 2 decades.

 

    Down to 604 in 2013, the dramatic decline in escapement of Chinook in the Naselle from 2010 raises the question to whether or not the Dept will actually have enough NORs for blending into hatchery broodstocks to enable it to maintain current production levels let alone increase them

to the goals under the “stepping stone” process set forth under Alternatives A & B. (Chart below was created from data in “WB Fram 3 Option K with Parenthesis in Coho, Chum value, fix NatChin-2.xlsx”).

The declining escapement of Naselle NOR Chinook

1800

1600

1400

1200

1000

800

600

400

200

0

2010

2011

2012

2013

 

 

Series1

1668

1458

1058

604

 

The reduction of Chinook production in Falls Creek to 350,000 releases and the shifting of Chinook production to the south under all three alternatives was disturbing to those whose priority is recreational fishing in 2T & 2U for Chinook. If caution is not taken to reduce harvest rates on NORs in the short term (years 1-4), recreational fishing could be severely limited in the north bay in the future due to the decline in NORs resulting from the harvest rates installed in the short term targeting the hatchery runs from previous production at Forks Creek that will not be there in the future.

 

    The Coho section of the draft designates the Naselle as a “stabilizing” stream. Since the river itself does not align with HSRG definitions for stabilizing, the motivation seems directed at

the recognition the weir problems in the Naselle currently fails to stop hatchery Coho straying. Rather than use a creative interpretation to avoid the problem (calling it stabilizing stands down HSRG straying guidelines), the Department should fix the weir problems.

 

    The Willapa by nature’s rule was historically a “Chum bay” with very large natural spawning Chum runs that have diminished. The Department proposes to review escapement goals for Chum. The concern is the Dept.’s motivation is to lower Chum escapement goals as a means

to make an “end run” around the chronic failure to reach goals in order to increase commercial seasons targeting abundant Coho. A reduction in natural spawning would have impacts on

the ecological balance in the basin and potentially interfere with future egg box and hatchery programs including “Ocean Ranching” possibilities. A unilateral decision by the Dept to change escapement goals (any of three species) without public input and Commission approval would not be an appropriate process and undermine the public confidence in the Department.

 

    Clarification is needed regarding language in the draft related to recreational seasons and other issues.

 

Draft Permanent Policy Recommendations

 

The following recommendations for changes in the current draft of the permanent policy were adopted:

 

   Replace the inseason adjustment language in the current draft borrowed from the GH policy that proved ineffective in 2014 with the greatly improved language contained in the draft interim policy just published by the Department.


   Regardless of the Chinook Alternative adopted, reduce the proposed 20% harvest rate in Phase 1 (Years 1-4) from 20% to the 14% used in AHA modeling to reach goals in 16-21 years.

 

       Chinook Alternatives-    Reject Chinook Alternatives A & B and adopt Alternative C with the following modifications (all present ex. N. Reinhardt & J. Koski):

 

1.       Replace the hatchery production goals expressed in Alternative C with the goals expressed in Alternative A & B.

 

2.     The recreational seasons are expressed the same in all three Alternatives and shown below in italics. The following clarifications (deletions additions)are recommended:

 

a.       A full marine recreational season means that Willapa Bay will be open concurrent with Area 2, two rods will be allowed per angler, a daily bag limit of six adult fish, with release of unclipped Chinook salmon.

 

b.      A full freshwater recreational season means an opening on August 1, in and unless constrained by a conservation purpose, for the full reaches of the Willapa, Nemah, and Naselle rivers, two rods will be allowed per angler, a daily bag limit of four adult fish, with release of unclipped Chinook salmon.” (all present ex. F. Estalilla & N. Reinhardt)

 

   Coho section. Change the stream designation for the Naselle from “Stabilizing” to “Contributing to align with definitions set forth in HSRG guidelines.

 

    Chum section. The following change is recommended:

 

c. Provide recreational fishing opportunities. Recreational fisheries will be allowed to retain Chum salmon if retention is not prohibited in the commercial fishery. Recreational impacts will not exceed 10% of the incidental impacts incurring during a non-targeted commercial fisheries.

 

3) Fisheries will be managed with the intent of achieving the aggregate goal for Willapa Bay naturally spawning Chum salmon. Two expressed options (A&B) follow. Adoption of Option B is recommended.

 

Adaptive Management- The following changes are recommended:

 

3) Review Spawner Goals.  The Department shall review spawner goals to  ensure that they reflect the current productivity of salmon and present a report with any recommended changes to existing goals to the Commission for its review and approval within the following timelines:

 

a.      Chum: September 1, 2015

b.      Coho: January 1, 2016

c.       Chinook: January 1, 2020


Page 5, WB Policy Meeting Minutes 1/18/2015

Draft 2015 season Interim Policy Recommendations

 

The following recommendations were adopted for changes in the current draft of the 2015 season in- terim policy were adopted (expressed draft language shown in italics):

 

    • If it becomes apparent that scheduled commercial fisheries will exceed the aggregated pre- season natural-origin Chinook mortality expectation, the Department shall implement in-season management actions so that mortalities of natural-origin Chinook shall not exceed the aggre- gated pre-season projection.”

 

The improvement to inseason management language shown above is recognized by all present to be of extreme importance to prevent over fishing that undermines conservation goals. An additional support step is recommended. Add Section 7. of the draft permanent policy regarding monitoring, sampling and enforcement to insure the Dept continues to improve its ability to recognize if the season underway in 2015 is exceeding the preseason expectation.

 

    • A harvest rate of 20% is set for the Willapa and Naselle. Having a harvest rate on both rivers is considered by many to be a key component for success in the future. The recommendation is to reduce the harvest rate in 2015 to the 14% modeled by AHA and begin the process without further delay and avoid installing a season that results in a further decline in NOR populations.

 

  • Replace the Chinook commercial season guidelines proposed in the 2015 interim draft with the commercial season expressed under Alternative C of the draft for the permanent policy.

 

  • Replace the recreational season guidelines proposed in the 2015 interim draft with the season details contained in the draft permanent policy as clarified by the recommendations provided earlier for the draft permanent policy.

 

 

 

 

The Advocacy thanked all for coming and the meeting adjourned at 10 P.M.

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