Below are minutes a meeting I was asked to attend to work on Willapa Management Plan issues. It was frank and rather intense but much to my amazement compromises to develop alternate verbiage and options was achieved. It was interesting to be sure. Formatting is off but I think you can get through it.
Twin Harbors Fish & Wildlife Advocacy
PO Box 179
McCleary, WA 9855 email@example.com
Meeting Minutes, January 24, 2015
Place: Timberland Public Library Community Room (Elma) Time: 3PM - 7 PM
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
Norm Reinhardt (ad hoc) John Rabey
* Francis Estallia (ad hoc)
* LeeRoy Wisner (ad hoc)
* Bob Mulhauser (ad hoc)
* Not in attendance
Meeting Purpose: Discussion of WB draft policy to determine where those invited could develop and agree or not agree on recommended changes for transmission to WDFW. The parameter of the discussion was directed at the attendees understanding of the sideboards provided to the public by the members of the Fish & Wildlife Commission.
Actions Taken: 7 solutions on recommended changes to the draft policy were adopted, 5 unanimously and 2 with a single attendee voicing reservations.
Following the meeting, the three invitees who were not able to attend reviewed the adopted solutions. Each of the three transmitted notice of conceptual support for each and all of the solutions.
Page 2, WB Policy Meeting Minutes 1/24/2015
Methodology: The Advocacy developed a meeting presentation that acted as an agenda. Partici- pants in the meeting shared concerns over the draft of the Commission policy 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 oc- curred and all present stated their approval or disapproval of each solution placed on the board.
Due to the varying interests and opinions, “consensus” was not sought. Rather, the focus was finding solutions using the spirit of compromise that would allow each the ability to voice ap- proval or disapproval of the compromise developed. The compromise solutions approved during the meeting are paraphrased (by Tim Hamilton) as “resolutions” in these minutes and identified below (not in chronological order). The comments preceding each are likewise paraphrased.
While all invitees have been provided a copy of these minutes, the minutes presented herein have not been formally approved.
Issue #1: Harvest Allocation i.e. Commission sideboard of recreational priority for Chinook and commercial priority for Coho & Chum.
Some of the Commentary:
• Need to recognize that future fishing seasons will be limited on the basis of the impacts to natural spawning populations and the level of success felt by the commercial, freshwater, and marine rec sectors will be directly linked to the willingness of each sector to utilize selective fishing to lessen season impacts on natural origin spawners
• Historical imbalance between commercial and recreational harvest
• Recreational seasons in freshwater has been discouraged by closures, bag limits, etc.
• No nets should be allowed in 2U or up the Willapa River beyond the mouth
• Recreational fishing and achievement of escapement goals in the south will be compromised if the Dept focuses full fleet pressure on Coho and Chum
• Due negative experiences of the past, many citizens have little confidence in the Department’s future use the NOF season setting process
• Just providing a short net free time in 2T is not granting a “rec priority” for Chinook
• NOS allocation for Chinook should be 50/50 (characterized as “parity not priority”), 51/49 and 60/40 (last two characterized as priority for rec)
• The commercial sector needs to be provided Chinook opportunity as an encouragement to develop selective fishing options for the future and to do so would require a higher rate of allocation of Chinook NOS impacts to the commercial fleet than found elsewhere
(70% rec in Columbia was cited as example)
• The new policy should specifically address allocation issues to limit stakeholder conflicts during the NOF process and allow the stakeholders to focus on conservation, selective fishing, and other issues of importance.
Compromise Resolution #1 (unanimously adopted) Insert language into the draft policy that allocates NOS impacts for parity between the three sectors for Chinook and grant commercial priority for Coho and Chum as follows:
Compromise Resolution #2 (unanimously adopted) Insert language into the draft policy stating that the Department shall within the boundaries of conservation take steps to enhance recreational fishing
access and opportunity to allow freshwater and marine recreational sectors an ability to harvest its allocation of NOS for each type of salmon
Compromise Resolution #3 (unanimously adopted) To establish a recreational priority for Chinook, commercial fishing in those areas currently recognized as Areas T & U will not occur prior to Sept. 16th
Issue #2 Protection of North River Chinook stocks Some of the Commentary:
• No one seems to know for certain if the North River stock is genetically different than the other composite Chinook stocks found in the Willapa Basin
• If the Department does testing on outgoing smolt or incoming adults the next season it should be able to provide the answer
• If the North River stock is genetically different, we should take measures to protect it but if its not, it doesn’t make sense to complicate future management or adversely impact harvest for no rational reason
Compromise Resolution #4 (approved with exception of N. Reinhardt) Insert language into the draft policy stating that the Department shall maintain the existing North River protection zone adopted for the 2014 season on through the 2015 season during which the Department can confirm the genetic composition of the North
River Chinook stock.
Issue #3 Establishing stream designation and population categories using HSRG definitions Some of the Commentary:
• The Department ignored the 2004 HSRG recommendations on Chinook hatchery production and rather than reduce production as advised to avoid harm to spawning populations, WDFW maintained hatchery production at the existing level (approx 5M)
• In 2010, stream designations where chosen in the Willapa draft plan that left many with the impression further increases were acceptable under Hatchery Reform and production was increased (planned 7M)
• In an attempt to harvest all the returning hatchery Chinook, the harvest rate applied (primarily commercial), contributed to a decline in natural origin Chinook to the point the current run size is less than escapement goals and due to the harvest seasons set since 2010, the rate of decline could easily continue over the next three years
• During the current discussion, the Department has once again used questionable stream designation and population categories that once inserted in the AHA model, allows (phrase used repeatedly was “tricks”) the model to approve yet another increase in Chinook production (up to approx 9M) and the public’s impression of the purpose is to have the AHA approve increased hatchery production and harvest to provide the commercial fleet with an “aspirational goal” of $960,000 average season exvessel values in the future
• If overharvest of natural spawners is the problem, further increases in hatchery production accompanied by even greater future commercial harvest pressure makes restoration of natural spawning populations seems unlikely if not impossible
• Since many in the public believe the Department used similar tactics to manipulate the fall harvest model into approving past commercial seasons sought by the commercial sector that resulted in a failure to reach escapement goals, the efforts to get the AHA model to clear its “aspirational goal of $960,000 in exvessel value” for the fleet is further undermining the Dept’s credibility.
• To avoid a rush to judgement on stream and populations designations, we should adopt the HSRG principals of “Scientifically Defensible“ and “Informed Decision Making” when establishing designations
Compromise Resolution #5 (approved with exception of N. Reinhardt) Insert language into the draft policy stating that the Department shall provide the Commission with a report in July 2015 (before
the next egg take cycle) that informs the public and members of the Commission of its recommended stream designations and population categorizations and the rationale for those recommendations
Issue #4 Inseason Adjustments to avoid overharvest of natural spawners and achieving escapement goals Some of the Commentary:
• The fall harvest model historically used by WDFW to set commercial seasons in WB consistently under estimated the effectiveness of the gillnet fleet
• Even though “landing reports” transmitted daily to WDFW Region 6 staff under the quick reporting system showed harvest of Chinook exceeding the preseason prediction and to the point threatening achievement of escapement goals, WDFW historically failed or outright refused to make inseason adjustments to bring the harvest back in line with the preseason expectation effectively placing the seasons negotiated with the commercial interests in the NOF process on “autopilot”
• To the contrary and without any data known to the public that justified such a decision, the Department has repeatedly granted past requests from the commercial fleet to adopt emergency rules that provided the fleet additional time on the water which subsequently resulted in a harvest rate that contributed to the failure to achieve escapement goals
• Predicting season impacts with a computer model is difficult and challenging which makes monitoring of the “quick reporting system” and inseason adjustment the “primary defense” to avoid overharvesting by the large and effective commercial fleet that fishes in the Willapa
• While recognizing that the language in the current draft was taken out of the GH policy passed in 2014, the current language in the draft does not make it clear that the Dept will take actions during the season that reduce harvest if the rate of harvest underway by one sector or another threatens achievement of escapement or allocation goals
Compromise Resolution #6 (unanimously adopted) Insert language into the draft policy clarifying that the Department shall take actions that include reducing harvest in the event the season underway ex- ceeds the preseason expectation to the point achievement of escapement or allocation goals are threat- ened.
Issue #5 Chum harvest rate language in the current draft policy is inadequate Some of the Commentary:
• Chum salmon are a biological driver that is reflective of the Basin’s “health and well-being” providing stream nutrient and survival support for not only Chinook, Coho, Steelhead, trout, etc, but other species that coexist in WB as well.
• Once the largest of the runs, the current depression in Chum run size is limiting harvest on the more abundant Coho and the sooner the restoration is accomplished the quicker the harvest limitation is eliminated and at the same time, provide the opportunity to utilize natural spawners for additional egg boxes and other measures that would increase artificial propagation of Chum for the future benefit of the commercial sector.
Compromise Resolution # (approved with exception of N. Reinhardt) Insert language into the draft policy similar to the language in the GH Plan as follows:
No commercial fisheries shall occur from Oct. 15-31 until spawner goal for Chum has been achieved 2 consecutive years. If the number of natural-origin spawners was less than the goal in 3 out of the last 5 years (beginning in 2010), the Department shall implement the following measures:
Further actions discussed prior to adjornment:
Stream & population designation scenarios that Dave Hamilton would request the Department staff to run through the AHA model for comparison with the “aspirational goals” scenarios provided by the Department during the ad hoc meetings and public workshops;
Providing those invitees that were not able to attend the opportunity to review and comment on the resolu- tions adopted;
Completing the meeting minutes and transmitting same to Department staff for its review (Tim Hamilton);
The possibility of the Advocacy sponsoring another meeting and inviting Department staff to attend and dis- cuss the 7 resolutions and any other subjects of interest with the list of invitees referenced earlier;
Editing the current draft to create a legally sound “markup version” that includes the 7 resolutions passed during the meeting and transmitting same to the Commission during the public comment period; and
Requesting that the Commission provide an opportunity for a panel presentation on the edited draft contain- ing the resolutions following the Department’s presentation on its proposed draft at its upcoming meeting where the Willapa policy is on the agenda.
Issue of known importance to at least some of the attendees that was not discussed due to time constraints:
1. The current draft of the policy allows for managing escapement for Coho in the “aggregate”. Many fear this could lead to a lack of recognition of the importance of streams in either the south or the north and escapement could be managed for a single stream to the point harvest could nearly eliminate natural spawners in others.
At the same time, most recognize that trying to manage for each and every river and all smaller streams individually could block harvest and complicate management throughout the Basin.
Possible solution- Manage for the aggregate on southern streams and for the aggregate on the northern streams.