WILLAPA INTERIM HARVEST POLICY THOUGHTS
Here are my thoughts at the moment on the Willapa interim 2015 harvest policy. I have put my thoughts in red so all can take a look at just to get a feel for what one can see as weaknesses in the WDF&W draft. That said the draft produced by staff is well above past efforts but still falls short for Rec opportunity and the needs future challenges will present.
Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission
2015 Willapa Bay Salmon Management Interim Guidance
March 13, 2015 Draft
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (Department) shall use the following guidance for managing salmon fisheries in Willapa Bay and tributary rivers in 2015.
Fall Chinook Salmon:The Department shall initiate a rebuilding program to conserve and restore wild Chinook salmon in Willapa Bay. For 2015, limit harvest rates on Naselle and Willapa River natural-origin Chinook salmon to no more than 20% to initiate rebuilding the number of natural-origin spawners. Within the conservation constraints of the rebuilding program, fisheries will be managed within the following intent:
In the AHA model runs it was a 14% harvest rate to graph upwards to recovery and limiting it to 20% on the Naselle can lead to serious issues on the Willapa for overharvest. Add to the mix that Forks Cr Chinook ( Willapa River ) production must be reduced to meet HSRG requirements for hatchery reform. Simply put in the transition cycle for Chinook ( the first four years ) to HSRG standards if we do not control natural spawner impacts to escapement with commercial over harvest it will be the Rec fisher in 2T & U who pays the price. In particular after the first four cycle and the Chinook hatchery production is reduced leaving the mix of hatchery / wild drastically reduced.
A liberal bag limit needs to be clearly defined for both marine & freshwater Rec fishers. The old WDF&W standard that Recs cannot catch enough fish is driven by the heavy commercial harvest and restricted Rec opportunity. That must end and the Rec fishers release mortality is well below the commercial rate so they can harvest a much expanded number with much less impact on the limiting natural origin Chinook.
For all fisheries through September 30, close the area north of a line from Toke Point channel marker 3 easterly through Willapa Harbor channel marker 13 (green) then, northeasterly to the power transmission pole located at 46 degrees 43.19'N, 123 degrees 50.83'W.
This is the North River exclusion zone and remains in place.
The commercials need to be out of 2T & U until September 16th, period. There is no need to continue to destroy the Rec 2T & U fisheries as has been done for the last four years.
If it becomes apparent that scheduled commercial fisheries will exceed the aggregated pre-season natural-origin Chinook mortality expectation, the Department shall implement in-season management actions so that mortalities of natural-origin Chinook shall not exceed the aggregated pre-season projection.
Fisheries will be managed with the intent of achieving the aggregate spawner goal for Willapa Bay natural-origin Coho salmon. Within the conservation constraints of meeting the aggregate escapement goal, fisheries will be managed within the following intent:
Fisheries will be managed with the intent of achieving the aggregate spawner goal for Willapa Bay natural-origin Chum salmon. Within the conservation constraints of meeting the aggregate escapement goal, fisheries will be managed within the following intent:
Recreational opportunities should be allowed within the 10% if commecial impacts are allowed be it a directed harvest or incidental catch.
The Commission recognizes that adaptive management will be essential to achieve the intent of this interim guidance. Department staff may implement actions to manage adaptively and will coordinate with the Commission, as needed, in order to implement corrective actions.
Posted on Fri, March 20, 2015
by Dave Hamilton