MY TESTIMONY ON WILLAPA
Well today was the Commission meeting and Willapa was on the Agenda with a
public input time after WDF&W's Steve Theisfeld presentation on past and
present Willapa fisheries. Steve did a descent job of putting things in
perspective. The Commission did set some priorities and direction the effort to
redefine goals and objectives which I will put up after getting my notes in
order. So below is my testimony I submitted today and the Commission Fish Committee guidance in a following post.
Commissioners I would like to bring forward several issues in the Willapa Plan
restructure effort underway.
First Commissioners is the fact that in the
past decade the Willapa communities have sacrificed much to restore salmon. From
RMZ setbacks, to reduced timber harvest it has cost them millions of dollars,
lost jobs and no economic stability. Controversial in the beginning, most have
come to accept the need to restore salmon but Commissioners there is an issue.
Those that shouldered the steep price of environmental reform actually thought "
salmon restoration " meant that once again salmon would return to the home
streams. This has not been the case in many places in the state but in Willapa
it has been particularly egregious as harvest impacts have continued to go
unabated and in some cases increased. We have an over harvest / under escapement
issue in Willapa that must be addressed if the promised " salmon restoration "
is to be real reform.
The second issue I wish to address is the
simple fact, despite much talk and grandiose plans, little has changed with the
hatchery production issue. From HSRG to the 21st Century Salmon and Steelhead
Initiative, and many other conceptual ideas, all direct the agency in the
direction of salmon recovery. In Willapa these directives have and continue to
be simply ignored. WDF&W verbiage says compliance yet resulting actions
paint a far different picture. The current Willapa Plan was supposed to be the
answer but it only made things worse. Commissioners the current plan simply
failed in all aspects to address hatchery reform or failing escapement of wild
stocks. Again the end result being in most cases only making the problem worse.
The failure of WDF&W to comply and embrace hatchery reform and natural
spawning populations reform in the Willapa is glaring. I urge the Commission to
simply confront this issue head on and not skirt it. If this is not done the
issues in Willapa will continue to worsen and again return to the Commission for
My last issue Commissioners is the understanding that the
Commissioners have a desire for solutions and not the usual finger pointing and
posturing. To accomplish this task the Commission must clearly and without
confusion set the direction is to proceed. Frankly if one thought the Grays
Harbor Management Plan was difficult to achieve then Willapa can be labeled
Simply put Natural Origin Recruit Chinook ( NOR ) are
declining due massive overharvest, hatchery Chinook straying is substantial, far
above any acceptable level in the Willapa, and North River, the last Willapa
stream with and any resemblance of the natural order, is not protected.
Returning NOR Coho are in a massive decline to near critical levels due to
extreme overharvest. Chum stocks have suffered virtually the same overharvest as
Chinook & Coho.
So Commissioner tell us the direction and
parameters that both the agency and citizens are to utilize in the drafting of
the new Willapa Plan. It is the necessary first step.
Posted on Sat, November 8, 2014
by Dave Hamilton