Here is the latest draft of the Willapa Plan and it is available for comment at the WDF&W website.   WMP



                                 POLICY DECISION                                          


POLICY TITLE:    Willapa Bay Salmon Management       POLICY NUMBER: C-XXXX-


Cancels or


Effective Date: XXXXXX, 2015



Termination Date: December 31, 2023


See Also:  Policies C-3608, C-3619                     Approved                                       [date]

by:                                                     Chair

Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission




The objective of this policy is to achieve the conservation and restoration of wild salmon in Willapa Bay and avoid ESA designation of any salmon species. Where consistent with this conservation objective, the policy also seeks to maintain or enhance the economic well-being and stability of the commercial and recreational fishing industry in the state, provide the public with outdoor recreational experiences, and a fair distribution of fishing opportunities throughout the Willapa Bay Basin. Enhanced transparency, information sharing, and improved technical rigor of fishery management are needed to restore and maintain public trust and support for management of Willapa Bay salmon fisheries.


Definition and Intent

This policy sets a general management direction and provides guidance for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (Department) management of all Pacific salmon returning to the Willapa Bay Basin. The Willapa Bay Basin is defined as Willapa Bay and its freshwater tributaries.


General Policy Statement

This policy provides a cohesive set of principles and guidance to promote the conservation of wild salmon and steelhead and improve the Department’s management of salmon in the Willapa Bay Basin. The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission (Commission) recognizes that management decisions must be informed by fishery monitoring (biological and economic), and that innovation and adaptive management will be necessary to achieve the stated purpose of this policy.  By improving communication, information sharing, and transparency, the Department shall promote improved public support for management of Willapa Bay salmon fisheries.


State commercial and recreational fisheries will need to increasingly focus on the harvest of abundant hatchery fish. Mark-selective fisheries are a tool that permits the harvest of abundant hatchery fish while reducing impacts on wild stocks needing protection. As a general policy, the Department shall implement mark-selective salmon fisheries, unless the wild populations substantially affected by the fishery are meeting spawner (e.g., escapement goal) and broodstock management objectives.  In addition, the Department may consider



avoidance, alternative gears, or other selective fishing concepts along with other management approaches provided they are as or more effective than a mark-selective fishery in achieving spawner and broodstock management objectives.


Fishery and hatchery management measures should be implemented as part of an “all-H” strategy that integrates hatchery, harvest, and habitat systems. Although the policy focuses on fishery management, this policy in no way diminishes the significance of habitat protection and restoration.


Guiding Principles

The Department shall apply the following principles in the management of salmon in the Willapa Bay Basin:


1)     Prioritize the restoration and conservation of wild salmon through a comprehensive, cohesive, and progressive series of fishery, hatchery, and habitat actions.


2)     Work with our partners (including Regional Fishery Enhancement Groups, nonprofit organizations, the public and Lead Entities) to protect and restore habitat productivity.


3)     Implement improved broodstock management (including selective removal of hatchery fish) to reduce the genetic and ecological impacts of hatchery fish and improve the fitness and viability of salmon produced from Willapa Bay rivers (see Hatchery and Fishery Reform Policy C-3619). Achieve Hatchery Scientific Review Group (HSRG) broodstock management standards for Coho and Chum salmon by 2015, and work toward a goal of achieving standards for Chinook salmon by 2020.


4)     Investigate and promote the development and implementation of alternative selective gear. The development of alternative selective gear may provide an opportunity to target fishery harvests on abundant hatchery fish stocks, reduce the number of hatchery-origin fish in natural spawning areas, limit mortalities on non-target species and stocks, and provide commercial fishing opportunities.


5)     Work through the Pacific Salmon Commission to promote the conservation of Willapa Bay salmon and, in a manner consistent with the provisions of the Pacific Salmon Treaty, pursue the implementation of fishery management actions necessary to achieve agreed conservation objectives.


6)     Within the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) process, support management measures that promote the attainment of Willapa Bay conservation objectives consistent with the Council’s Salmon Fishery Management Plan.


7)     Monitoring, sampling, and enforcement programs will adequately account for species and population impacts (landed catch and incidental fishing mortality) of all recreational and commercial fisheries and ensure compliance with state regulations. Develop and



implement enhanced enforcement strategies to improve compliance with fishing regulations and ensure orderly fisheries.


8)     If it becomes apparent that a scheduled fishery will exceed its preseason catch expectation, and the overage will put at risk the attainment of conservation objectives, the Department shall implement in-season management actions that are projected to enhance the effectiveness of fishery management relative to the attainment of the conservation objectives and impact sharing in the preseason fishery plan.


9)     Salmon management will be timely, well documented, transparent, well-communicated, and accountable. The Department shall strive to make ongoing improvements in the transparency of fishery management and for effective public involvement. These shall include: a) clearly describing management objectives in a document available to the public prior to the initiation of the preseason planning process; b) enhancing opportunities for public engagement during the preseason fishery planning process; c) communicating in-season information and management actions to advisors and the public; and d) striving to improve communication with the public regarding co- management issues that are under discussion.


10)  Seek to improve fishery management and technical tools through improved fishery monitoring, the development of new tools, and rigorous assessment of fishery models and parameters.


11)  When a mark-selective fishery occurs, the mark-selective fishery shall be implemented, monitored, and enforced in a manner designed to achieve the anticipated conservation benefits.



Fishery and Species-Specific Guidance

Subject to the provisions of the Adaptive Management section, the following fishery-and species-specific sections describe the presumptive path for achieving conservation objectives and a fair sharing of harvestable fish.



Fall Chinook Salmon: Alternative A

(No Area 2T, 2U Commercial Fishery in August after Transition Period)


Subject to the adaptive management provisions of this policy, the Department will manage fall Chinook salmon fisheries and hatchery programs consistent with the Guiding Principles and the following additional guidance:


1)    The Department shall initiate a three-phase rebuilding program to conserve and restore wild Chinook salmon in Willapa Bay. The progressive series of actions is intended to result in achieving broodstock management standards by year 5 and spawner goals by years 16-21. Within the conservation constraints of the rebuilding program, Chinook salmon will be managed to provide for a full recreational fishing season with increased participation and/or catch anticipated in future years.


2)    Rebuilding Program - Phase 1 (Years 1-4).   The objectives of Phase 1 shall be to increase the number of natural-origin spawners and implement hatchery program modifications designed to meet broodstock management standards in the subsequent cycle.


a.    Limit harvest rates on Willapa River natural-origin Chinook salmon to no more than 20% to initiate rebuilding of the number of natural-origin spawners.


b.    Implement hatchery broodstock management actions to promote re-adaptation to the natural environment and enhance productivity of natural-origin Chinook salmon in the North/Smith, Willapa, and Naselle rivers:


·         North/Smith – Manage as Wild Salmon Management Zone with no hatchery releases of Chinook salmon.


·         Willapa Implement an integrated program with hatchery broodstock management strategies designed to achieve broodstock management standards consistent with a Primary designation in the subsequent cycle.


·         Naselle – Implement a stepping stone program to promote local adaptation. The highly integrated program of 300,000 will be derived from at least 70% natural-origin broodstock. The Department shall continue to enhance weir operations with a goal of limiting hatchery-origin adults to less than 30% of the natural spawners above the weir.


c.    Pursue implementation of additional mark-selective commercial fishing gear to enhance conservation and provide harvest opportunities. The Department shall provide to the Commission by January 2017 a status report and by January 2018 an assessment of options to implement additional mark-selective commercial fishing gear in Willapa Bay. The assessment shall identify the likely release



mortality rates for each gear type, the benefits to rebuilding naturally spawning populations, and the benefits and impacts to the commercial fishery.


3)    Rebuilding Program - Phase 2 (Years 5 - 10). The objectives of Phase 2 shall be to increase the number and productivity of natural-origin spawners through a further reduction in harvest rates and continued implementation of the broodstock management strategies discussed above.


a.    Limit harvest rates on Willapa River natural-origin Chinook salmon to no more than 14% to accelerate the rebuilding program.


b.    Evaluate hatchery broodstock management actions for consistency with the objectives identified in 2(b), including the proportionate natural influence in the Willapa River and incorporation of natural-origin broodstock into the stepping stone program in the Naselle River.


4)    Rebuilding Program - Phase 3 (Years 11 – 21). The combination of fishery and harvest management actions is projected to result on average in the achievement of spawner goals for the North & Willapa populations in the years 16-21. Additional fishery and hatchery management actions will be considered during this time period if the progress toward the spawner objectives is inconsistent with expectations.


5)    Fishery Management Objectives. The fishery management objectives for fall Chinook salmon, in priority order, are to:


a.    Achieve spawner goals for the primary stocks of natural-origin Chinook and hatchery reform broodstock objectives through the three phase rebuilding program described above.


b.    Provide for a full recreational fishing season. The impact rate of the recreational fishery is anticipated to be ~3.2% during the initial years of the policy, but may increase in subsequent years to provide for a full recreational season as described below:


·         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 fish, with release of unclipped Chinook salmon.


·         A full freshwater recreational season means an opening on August 1 in the Willapa, Nemah, and Naselle rivers, two rods will be allowed per angler, a daily bag limit of four fish, with release of unclipped Chinook salmon.


·         Conservation actions, as necessary, shall be shared equally between marine and freshwater fisheries.




c.    Provide opportunities for commercial fisheries within the remaining available fishery impacts.


6)    Fishery Management in Phase 1. To facilitate a transition to the Willapa River as the primary Chinook salmon population, fisheries during the transition period will be managed with the following intent:


a.    The impact rate on Willapa River natural-origin fall Chinook in Willapa Bay fisheries shall not exceed 20%. Within this impact rate cap, the priority shall be to maintain a full season of recreational fisheries for Chinook salmon in the Willapa Bay Basin


b.    No commercial Chinook fisheries shall occur in areas 2T and 2U prior to Labor Day. Commercial fisheries in areas 2T and 2U after Labor Day but before Sept. 16 shall use mark-selective fishing gear (6.5” maximum mesh in 2T and 4.5” maximum mesh tangle net in 2U) and recovery boxes.


c.    No commercial Chinook fisheries shall occur in areas 2M, 2N, 2P and 2R prior to August 16.


7)    Fishery Management After Phase 1. Fisheries in the Willapa Bay Basin during the Chinook salmon management period (prior to September 16) will be managed with the intent of:


a.    Limiting the fishery impact rate on Willapa River natural-origin fall Chinook salmon to no more than 14%.


b.    No commercial fisheries shall occur within areas 2T and 2U prior to September. 16.


c.    No commercial Chinook fisheries shall occur in areas 2M, 2N, 2P and 2R prior to August 16.


8)    Hatchery Production. Within budgetary constraints, and at the earliest feasible date, the Department shall seek to implement the following hatchery production of fall Chinook salmon:


·         3.30 million at Naselle Hatchery

i.    300,000 highly integrated

ii.    3 million from first generation returns of highly integrated stock

·         3.30 million at Nemah Hatchery

·         0.35 million at Forks Creek Hatchery


9)    Enhanced Hatchery Production. The Department shall work with our partners to secure



resources to increase production of fall Chinook salmon at Naselle Hatchery by an additional 2.7 million subyearlings.

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