GILLNETTERS CHALLENGE WILLAPA POLICY

GILLNETTERS CHALLENGE WILLAPA POLICY

The Willapa Gillnetters filed in Pacific County court to overturn the just passed Willapa Policy. As I do not have a copy yet I have few details but as soon as I get it or someone else does it will be up but here is a article from the Chinook Observer. The thing is I cannot get my arms around is why not wait for the WAC? Commercial interest have already gotten their collective butts kicked suing a policy before. Oh well forward we go.

 

FROM THE CHINOOK OBSERVER: 

Gillnetters begin legal challenge to new Willapa Bay salmon policy

Gillnetting group files petition for judicial reveiw of new Willapa Bay salmon management policy

 

A group of commercial gillnet fishermen filed a petition June 30, seeking judicial review of a new salmon management policy on Willapa Bay.

The Willapa Bay Gillnetters Association (WBGA), represented by attorneys Ryen Godwin and Gregory Jacoby of Tacoma-based McGavick Graves, argues the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife acted outside of statuary authority when it placed restrictions on fishing times, place, manner and fishing method in the policy instead of in a rule.

The attorneys also claim the department acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” way when it used specific models to analyze justify how much harvest of salmon the new policy would allow as well as determine the current economic impacts of both commercial and sport fishermen in Willapa Bay.

“The DFW determined the current economic impact in Willapa Bay based upon a state-wide study published in 2008 of all gear types, all locations, and all species of salmon,” the petition states. That study looks at ex-vessel value for commercial fishermen — the price fishermen receive for fish landed at a dock — and, for sport fishermen, the number of days available for them to fish.

“The state-wide study is not generally accepted as a reliable basis to determine economic impacts on a particular region,” the petition continues, “… There is no rational relationship between the economic impacts identified in the state-wide study and the Policy’s actual economic impacts on Willapa Bay.”

The petition also took issue with the allowed impact rate to naturally spawning Chinook salmon — fish that do not return to the state-run hatcheries and spawn on their own in nearby rivers and streams. Under the policy, gillnetters are allowed 20 percent impacts; once they hit a certain number of these natural or wild Chinook, fishing must cease in that area. In coming years, this allowed impact will be stepped down to 14 percent, which could potentially further restrict commercial harvest on Willapa Bay.

Local fishermen have called that percentage a “nail in the coffin,” and said there would be little reason to continue fishing on Willapa Bay under such an impact rate. In the past, they were allowed anywhere from 30 percent to nearly 40 percent impact, and, the petition says, this impact helped the natural origin fish, keeping spawning ground from becoming overrun.

WDFW, its commission and conservation groups, however, have argued that lowering the impact rate to 20 and then 14 percent is necessary move to restore wild salmon runs there. Fishermen and processors have countered that there are no true wild runs on the Willapa, only hatchery fish that failed to return to the hatcheries and have instead begun to spawn on their own.

“The facts found by the DFW as recently as 2013 show that a (30) percent impact rate ensured the protection of natural origin adults and removed hatchery adults that might otherwise have a negative influence on natural counterparts,” the petition argues, and later states, “there is no conservation benefit to reducing the impact rate from (20) percent and then to (14) percent after the initial transition period outlined in the Policy.”

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, whose commission passed the new management policy last month as part of a legal settlement with the Twin Harbors Fish and Wildlife Advocacy group last year, has 20 days to respond.

A spokesperson for the department said WDFW’s counsel advised the department not to comment on the petition outside of the courtroom, but sent the Chinook Observer copies of materials received from the WBGA’s attorneys.

 

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