So how did the meeting of the Willapa AD HOC go? Well it was informative, calm, infuriating and at times misinformation came pouring out. So let us try this. Steve Theisfeld R-6 Fish Program did a update on the process thus far. Then we went right to the AHA model presentation by AA and that was a fairly reasonable Power Point presentation. The model function inputs can be confusing on the best of days even if your familiar with harvest and escapement management.

Then the wheels fell right off the cart. The  modeling the spread sheet produces a graph of the projected harvest at the bottom of the spread sheet by user group. So AA started in identifying the rational for this results.

1. Inriver Rec: They don't need many fish to catch just the opportunity. ( boat ride or hike to the river bank )  I bloody well nearly had a stroke right there but waited until public input but what a load of, well something. The inriver struggles due to 90% of the fish being removed by commercial harvest before they get a shot at them. Never mind that gear restrictions ( barbless / single / ect ) are intended to and do limit inriver success for conservation.

2. Marine Rec: They catch more but not that much of a impact: Lord love a duck! The same gear restrictions as in river apply. Also putting the Commercial nets in 2T and sweeping the bay continuously with gillnets guarantees a vastly reduced marine Rec catch.

3. Commercial Gillnets: They really are important as the Recs cannot kill all the harvestable hatchery fish. Now at this one I pretty much went into a state of shock again. Now the reason for the Willapa Management Plan redo is frankly that the Commercial fisheries pretty much darn near wiped out the natural salmon populations across the entire Willapa estuary. I mean killing fish is what management is all about? Whatever happened to the Conservation Based management the Commission is advocating?

4. If you do not kill all the hatchery fish with a commercial gillnet the Willapa hatcheries will look like Bingham. This I asked AA to clarify as I am more than a little familiar with Bingham Hatchery which is located on the East Fork Satsop in the Chehalis Basin. In clarification AA identified the issue as the large numbers of returning fish above the hatchery egg take goal.

Ok let us try this. The Chehalis Basin is managed for Natural Origin Spawners ( NOS ) and this requires a exploitation rate that insures the NOS population have the numbers into escapement after harvest to sustain the NOS populations. All salmon stocks in the Chehalis Basin are integrated stocks which means the hatchery production is genetically the same as the wild or NOS populations. This results in the hatchery returns mirroring the NOS ( wild ) which is way past the 5% or so the hatchery would require if the stocks were segregated. ( AA outlined the Chambers Cr. Steelhead as a easy example of a segregated stock ) which allow wipe out fisheries. The simple fact is the days of wiping out NOS / wild salmon populations is supposed to be in the past. ( at least that is what the Commission has directed ) In addition those hatchery returns are the Rec fishers opportunity. The Recs spend more money chasing the fish trying to catch it with restricted gear than the value of the bloody commercial fishery, period.

So just what on earth was this about? Well this is my opinion but I think the answer revolves around the previous AD HOC and public meetings. So straight talk time. The meetings were contentious, disorganized, and just plain ugly. Right down to a commercial fisher threatening two ( that I know off ) citizens with physical violence outside the meeting room and WDF&W view if they continued to participate in the process. This was addressed by WDF&W and Enforcement was present last night as the agency appeared to be better prepared to deal with the commercial representation.

That was helpful but I think the four points described above came from AA trying to present the AHA model results in such a way that everyone stayed calm. That worked on the commercial side & the majority of the AD HOC but for some of the AD HOC and the citizens setting in the audience it did not appear they buying any of it. Rightly so I might add. 

Frankly I have nothing but respect for AA and the others working from the scientific communities to address hatchery reform with HSRG. That AA would even venture in to a Lion's den of a meeting to provide insight to HSRG and the AHA model is admirable. Most certainly when one considers the manner of how the previous meetings were conducted.

So where do we go now? There are two remaining public meetings and I urge all to participate and not be intimidated. Will much be accomplished? I do not know but I doubt it. So what to do? Attend the next two public meetings to educate yourself then participate at the Commission level! When the next draft of the Willapa Management Plan is released for public comment dig in and go after whatever you feel is incorrect in writing right to the Commission.

 So you're not comfortable with this? Poor writing skills? Well folks I was born with ADD and struggle to write. ( we are not going to even think about missing words & typos ) Do not allow the lack of writing skills or technical knowledge of fish to take away your rights as a citizen. The Commissioners are descent folk that can and will sort this thing out, of that I am sure. Again do not surrender your rights as a citizen.

I am reminded of the lady who walked up to the microphone in the Grays Harbor hearing before the Commission with her rather large stuffed Sockeye toy with full spawning colors, plopped it down on the table, was polite but let it rip and I mean let it rip! No one has to be a doormat! It is your right to participate.