Update time, again.  Everyone should take the time to read the write up for the status legal challenge to Grays Harbor and Willapa  HERE .  Things are moving forward rather quickly so everyone should check in and see what is new every so often.

1. Every now and then a new group of folks ban together to work a issue and attempt to get their message out. Such is the case with this group Hatchery & Wild and it is interesting to look at their perspective of the issue.

As I am one of the Grays Harbor Advisers I have pretty much stood on principle that anything directed our way should be public. Some disagree but frankly as the Adviser are supposed to somehow represent the public I think everything should be made available to all. 

Grays Harbor Advisory Group Members –

I have several pieces of news that I believe are positive steps toward conserving Grays Harbor salmon and improving fishery management.

Settlement Agreement.  The Department signed an agreement on Friday to settle litigation regarding the rules for the 2013 Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay commercial fisheries.  As described in the attached summary, rather than prolonging litigation, the parties have agreed to build on a shared interest in enhancing communication between the Department and recreational fishers, ensuring a strong technical foundation for salmon fishery management, and improving the integration of the North of Falcon fishery planning and the rules process.  The agreement includes several provisions that are consistent with suggestions we included in our January presentation to the Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC).  These include the development of a Grays Harbor web page to clearly and consistently provide information on catches and spawners, and a series of collaborative workshops with stakeholders.  I wish to be clear that these workshops will be developed with input from all of you – not just the parties to the settlement agreement – and all members of the public will be encouraged to attend the workshops.

Improvements in Technical Tools.  We have discussed extensively during the last three months the draft Grays Harbor policy under consideration by the Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC).  Our discussions have necessarily focused on higher level policy guidance and general management direction, but I have also heard you and the public express many technical concerns.  Although all of those technical concerns may not be individually addressed in the draft policy, we have attempted to capture them in several of the guiding principles and in the adaptive management section.

For example, Guiding Principle 12 of the draft Grays Harbor Policy states:  “The Department shall improve fishery management and technical tools through improved fishery monitoring, the development of new tools and rigorous assessment of fishery models and parameters.” The 2014 fishery planning season is now quickly approaching, and I want you to be aware of three actions that will address some of the more technical concerns that I have heard from the advisors or the public.

Grays Harbor Planning Model.  I have heard on several occasions that the Grays Harbor fishery planning model may have had computational errors in past years (I believe John Campbell may have been the first person that provided me with this information).  As a step toward implementing Guiding Principle 12 and addressing this technical concern, I have initiated the contracting process to get an independent review of the model’s computational formulas.  I hope to get that contract initiated next week - time is short before we start 2014 fishery planning!

Preseason Catch Projections.  A second technical concern that I have heard is that our preseason catch or impact projections do not accurately capture the current fisheries or accurately project fishery impacts.  The Area 2-2 recreational fishery is probably the example I hear most frequently.  We view this issue as a good topic for the workshops that were discussed above and included in the settlement agreement.  We’re targeting a February workshop and will be soliciting your ideas for how to make the workshop successful.

Release Mortality Rates.  The release mortality rates used by the Department to project the mortality of Chinook salmon released in commercial fisheries is a third technical concern that I have frequently heard.  This is a complex topic and, while the mortality rates for salmon released by recreational fishers have been the topic of multiple scientific reviews, I am not aware that the rates used by the Department for commercial fisheries in Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay have had a similar scientific review.  Accordingly, we have included in the settlement agreement a process to engage the assistance of independent scientific experts to provide us with recommendations.  Again, we will be soliciting your ideas for how to make the workshop successful.

Last but not least is this coming Saturday is the date for the WDF&W Commission to adopt the new policy guidelines for the Grays Harbor Management Plan. If you can attend I urge all to do so as this isn't a done deal by any means. 

   *Comfort Inn Hotel and Conference Center

    1620 74th Avenue SW Tumwater, WA 98501 – Evergreen Room


From the North take I-5 toward Portland just past Tumwater to exit 101. Do not confuse with Highway 101. Go east on Tumwater Boulevard one block, take first right and then first right again to hotel.

From the South take I-5 toward Seattle to exit 101. Do not confuse with Highway 101. Go east on Tumwater Boulevard one block, take first right and then first right again to hotel.

http://www.comfortinn.com/hotel-tumwater-washington WA126/Hotel-Map?country=US

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