As we go down the road I thought I would share the recommendations that I and two others, commonly know as " the old geezer bunch " have submitted for the Willapa Fall Salmon seasons. Frankly our thoughts are that it is time to take a fresh look at how Willapa Salmon harvest are allocated.
Willapa NOF Recommendations
Hamilton, Bill Osborn, Joe Durham
In this year's North of Falcon (NOF) process Bill
Osborne, Joe Durham and I have attended and participated as citizens as best
one could. After a review of the 2014
Willapa NOF we must express our dismay
at first the lack of any real progress by WDF&W, commercial fishers and
some recreational fishers to address the conservation first and harvest second
issue. It appears to the average citizen that the attitude of “kill them all
and worry about it later” is dominating the process and that the entire process
is void of any conservation standard.
In addition with the commercial fisheries accounting
for approximately 83% to 87% of the harvest many citizens feel, and some went
on the record stating so, that equitable sharing of harvest is addressed but
without any intention of achieving equity. Our comments will be directed toward
addressing these issues.
After review of the model as it currently is
constructed, we found it impossible use for developing 2014 fall Salmon
seasons. After consulting with the Twin
Harbors Fish & Wildlife Advocacy and confirming our concerns on the failure
of the Willapa Harvest Model to achieve accuracy we suggest mathematicians
conduct an in-depth review as was done with the Grays Harbor Harvest Model.
Lacking a properly functioning harvest model we have
chosen to address specific failures in the setting of the 2014 Fall Salmon
North River Closure:
North River Chinook are on a downward trend with
roughly 30% on natural escapement compared to 2002 when the stock status was
determined depressed for SASI. Continued failure to address the issue could and likely will
result in restrictions in 2T that result in the loss of substantial opportunity
for both commercial and recreational fishers in future years in the 2T zone.
spawning takes place in the mainstem North River near the confluence with the
Fall River, in the lower Fall River and in Smith and Ramie creeks. Some
spawning also occurs in Lower Salmon River, left and right fork of Ramie creeks
and Clearwater Creek.
generally occurs from late September through November, a little earlier than
other Willapa Bay fall Chinook stocks.
This is a native stock with wild production.
Three releases of fall Chinook have occurred in Fall River in the 1960s. The
releases originated from Willapa Bay hatcheries and were normal-timed fall
Chinook stock. There is no history of early-timed Chinook released into Fall
River. While some potential for hybridization did exist, Fall River early-timed
Chinook are not thought to have been significantly impacted and are considered
native in origin.
It is our belief that additional restrictions are
required to protect the North River native Chinook population. We urge the
creation of a closure zone for both commercial and recreational fishers until
September 15th. The boundaries to be
defined as from Tokeland Buoy 3 North from to shore ( utilizing the existing
marker 3 line ) Buoy 3 to RM B Buoy, from the RM B Buoy North to the shore
utilizing the existing 2 U boundary. This closure is the minimum necessary for
the protection of the native natural origin Chinook population. Further, the
area should not open to net fisheries until test fisheries document Chinook
Willapa Fall Coho Seasons:
In the review of the options proposed thus far the
vast majority of reductions appear to be directed toward fall recreational Coho
fishers by creating false seasons and
opportunities that will not exist or come to pass other than in paper
fish in the model. Required reductions
in fall salmon harvest need to be proportional for EACH species and as the NT
Nets take 83% to 87% of the harvest most recreational fishers feel the
commercial fishers must take the reduction equal to the impacts they have
historically had on harvest.
This assessment is based upon the utilization of a
“continuous commercial harvest " fishery being utilized in the options
developed by WDF&W and the Willapa Advisers. The utilization of "
continuous commercial harvest "
methodology resulted in proposals for commercial Coho harvest of 24 / 7 from Sept 16 to Oct. 7 gillnet harvest
followed by 4 days in the week of Oct. 8 with 4 days 24 hours a day, which we
regard as simply unacceptable.
Regardless of how it is modeled it will result in the fall recreational
fishery being little more than a boat ride or hike to the river bank to enjoy
nature as few fish will be available to catch.
As current Willapa harvest model appears to not calculate the reduced
number of Coho available from commercial harvest but rather the forecasted run
size, it is not possible to gauge the true and accurate rate of harvest
attributed to recreational fishers in the model. WDFW needs to demonstrate a
management process that produces meaningful achievement of escapement and
provision for meaningful in-river recreational fisheries. “Meaningful fishery” will need to be
quantitatively defined and agreed-to by the in-river anglers.
Another option does exist and frankly is preferable
to the “continuous commercial harvest “options presented thus far. A better option is limiting commercial
harvest from September 15th to October 31 to 4/3 (three continuous net free
days in a calendar week) as in Grays Harbor.
While this may sound extreme in reality it is not as what it does is
move the commercial fishers from a “continuous commercial harvest” fishery to
what is commonly identified as a “build up fishery ". In a three day net free period it is probable
that some portion of the returning Coho from day one will clear the commercial
harvest zones but not salmon entering the harbor on day two or three.
This results in the recreational fishers have a far
greater access to harvest as the Coho numbers build in the harbor and the
commercial harvesters will be able to still have access to harvesting nearly
the same number of Coho but in four days of a build up fishery rather over
seven day in a continuous fishery. The results of the closures will, to some
degree, depend on stream flows/rain. Low
flows, no rain will keep fish in the bay and harvested. Good flows will have
fish move through. WDFW will need to be
From our perspective these measures are the minimum
required to address the 2014 Willapa Fall Salmon harvest with permanent steps
taken to reverse the continuing decline of natural origin and native stocks of
Willapa Salmon in the development of a new Willapa Bay Salmon Management Plan
in 2015. I would emphasize that your goals, in PRIORITY ORDER, are significant
and continuous increases in escapement over brood year and provision for
significant and meaningful in-river fisheries.
I urge all who visit D's Rants to do the contact bit and I will add your name to the contact list so whenever we have something interesting posted you can be notified
Posted on Tue, April 1, 2014
by Dave Hamilton