DECEMBER 7th COMMISSION MEETING
So how did the December Commission meeting go? It was interesting to say the least with cause for optimism that change may be coming and yet the huge potential for more of the same. The potential exist for the many options could be cobbled together in a manner that is smoke and mirrors. The Power Point presentation utilized is not up on WDF&W's website yet but as soon as it I will post a link.
So now what? Well everyone should direct there comments directly to the Commission and here is the address. email@example.com Below are my comments to the commissioners on two issues that I feel strongly about. It is your right so if your involved or following this process be involved and get your views to the Commission.
Attached are the issues I intended to testify on at Saturdays Commission meeting but a printer failure left me with only two copies so I have attached comments to this E mail. I apologize for my failure to submit the issues correctly and I will attempt to make sure that does not happen again. In addition two issues really stood out as being misrepresented at the 12/07/13 Commission meeting.
1. The issue of the Quinault Indian Nation ( QIN ) being responsible for the failure to make escapement really stands out. While I disagree with the manner that the QIN is setting it’s seasons on the fall Salmon harvest, they are within the boundaries of the court mandated fisheries. They are allowed up to 50% of the harvestable Salmon that cross the bar and within in that narrow guideline the QIN is not violating the court mandates. It was WDF&W in recent years that implemented the separation of the Humptulips and Chehalis Basins ( a action that I support ) and to the best of my knowledge the QIN did not sign on to or recognize it as altering their court mandated harvest methods.
In April 2013 Region 6 ( R6 ) District 17 ( D17 ) staff had the QIN proposed seasons and when the State’s fisheries were modeled with the QIN they went well into escapement. D17 refused to provide to the public the seasons fully modeled but when we finally got the QIN seasons modeled with the States season it showed a rather large deficit on the Chehalis side Chinook but a rather large number of Humptulips Chinook available for harvest but not utilized. So did Region 6 District 17 staff have options this past year? Yes they most certainly did. By moving Non Treaty Commercials to the Humptulips in the timing normally utilized the QIN impacts could have been substantially offset. Rather than take that approach R17 instead attempted to stack the Non Treaty nets right on top of the QIN Chehalis effort. Commissioners there was no way no how the combined state and QIN fisheries allowed for Chehalis Chinook in the model to make escapement but rather than alter their approach R6 D17 staff simply went forward and claimed they did not have agreement. Since then D6 R17 have steadfastly refused to make public what / when / why they did not have agreement with the QIN.
Having broodstocked with QIN fishers and as the project manager for the Chehalis Tribal fishers in the Chehalis Chinook Broodstocking effort some years back I came to understand and appreciate how deep the distrust of WDF&W was and frankly in recent years it has become much worse. So who is at fault? Both! The litany of disrespect both parties have shown each other has reached a point that most of us involved in advocacy in the Chehalis Basin find well past being even close to acceptable. Commissioners to be blunt the Commission needs to put an end to this conduct, at least on WDF&W’s side, then hopefully the QIN will follow. In conversations with retired agency staff one individual described current R6 D17efforts to work with the QIN on fisheries issues as similar to a fireman “ trying to put out a house fire with a flame thrower”.
2. The second issue is when Director Anderson discussed directed fisheries vs incidental. Frankly Commissioners this issue is one of the most misrepresented, distorted, abused practice I have ever seen in fisheries management by both the QIN and WDF&W. On the States side 2012 is a great example of complete and total disregard for honesty by D17 staff. Through the entire APA process & North of Falcon no Chum retention was put forth by the D17 staff but when the WAC came out Chum retention for the final day of the NT Nets season. I immediately contacted R17 staff and was told that the retention was allowed as the 5% escapement impact had yet to be reached for Chum and they were incidentally caught in a directed Coho harvest. This resulted in far more incidental Chum being harvested than targeted Coho for that set and harvesting into the Chum escapement. Try as we can myself and others struggle to understand the violation of the APA process front to back coupled with the utilization of the terms directed and incidental to continually violate the intent & goals of the current Grays Harbor Management Plan. Frankly many see this manipulation continuing in the revamped GH Management Plan without Commission intervention establishing solid definitions & guidelines on terminologies and methodologies.
On the QIN’s side a example is in December QIN begins what is commonly known as their early Steelhead fishery. Again the QIN has court mandated rights and in the 70’s & 80’s the former Department of Game utilized plants of December returning Chambers Creek lineage Steelhead to reduce harvest on the Native Wild Steelhead. Right / wrong / whatever the unintended consequences was that the QIN fishers harvested substantial numbers of Late Native Coho stocks as incidental catch. Fast forward to the present and the December returning Steelhead plants are gone, Late Coho stocks are in trouble and declining in number, and QIN fishers still maintain the December / January Steelhead fishery. This fishery is targeting planted a Steelhead stock that is no longer planted and few natural origin Steelhead returning adults exist but continues the practice of harvesting a Late Native Coho run that is in decline as incidental catch in a Steelhead fishery not modeled in the Salmon fisheries model.
Commissioners I truly appreciate your efforts to address the Grays Harbor issues but this abuse of the terms directed and incidental harvest must be addressed. This issue is particularly difficult as the WDF&W Region 6 District 17 staff, past & present, are every bit as guilty of manipulation for expanded commercial catch / sales as the QIN! Again it is my view that the Commission and the Commission alone can require WDF&W staff to reform this practice as I can guarantee neither present WDF&W staff or the QIN can or will address the issue without direct Commission input.
Posted on Mon, December 9, 2013
by Dave Hamilton