PSA State Board President Message for August by Ron Garner
Where do we start with all of the fishing issues we have? They are non-stop. We have budget issues where WDFW wants to increase our recreational license fees. The state is and has been cutting general funds from our WDFW Budget for years. More and more of our recreational license fees are what is keeping the hatcheries alive. By some of the tribes and us not agreeing on fisherie, equates into lost license revenue through lost recreational opportunity. WDFW is wanting to basically double our license fees but at the same time we are losing many fisheries and opportunity.
Are we ever going to get along? We are trying to make headway with North of Falcon issues still. We are trying to have our own separate permit but in the end the fish still have to be divided up and shared. NOAA has to stand behind their guidelines and oversight to make sure they are fair for both sides. I sent a letter to Northwest Indian Fish Commission Chair Lorraine Loomis to get together to see what we could do to help each other get our fisheries back. I have not heard back yet but hope we can fix the problems we can agree on.
Wild Fish Conservancy is at it again with lawsuits. They are trying to block the release of 10 lower Columbia River hatchery Coho and Chinook. The worst part is that hatcheries were built to replace loss of habitat or mitigation for dams. Straying hatchery fish on spawning grounds are a smaller part of a large problem overall. The problem is that the HGMPs are not in place. The suit proves nothing other than fish are not to be released unless the Hatchery and Genetics Management Plans are approved and in place. These hatchery fish used to be one of the most prolific chinook on the West Coast. By these fish being caught it helped more of the wild fish to get through. Hatchery fish do play a part in our fisheries. They do create a buffer for wild fish to get through the gauntlet of nets, fishing gear, seals, sea lions, cormorants and other predator birds when fry, and many other obstacles.
PSA was at the forefront of Rockfish Recovery by using Rockfish Descenders to get rockfish back down. We worked with both WDFW and NOAA. Through NOAA and PSA working together it is shown that Canary Rockfish inside the Puget Sound are the same as the Pacific Ocean Canary genetically. This is a huge deal! Once something gets on the Endangered Species List, it is almost impossible to remove it. We understood long before most that Rockfish were the key to shutting down many other fisheries. We were sinking rockfish before it was known that it could be done. PSA Sno-King and the State Board started funding on our own descender program for the first 3-4 years, for the general public. We started another chapter named PSA Education, Fisheries, and Conservation Chapter to deal with fisheries issues and conservation. We were able to secure grants to start handing out the higher quality Seaqualizer Fish Descenders. These are a very high quality and easier to use in our opinion.
This warded off many fishery closures for us in the ocean and Puget Sound. We took a lot of pressure off of our rockfish stocks, especially since it was shown that the ESA rockfish stocks recovered well after being taken back down to the bottom. But now the NOAA Rockfish Recovery Team has made its recommendation and it's in Washington DC awaiting approval. Their recommendation includes building. Marine Reserves or no fishing zones to recover Yelloweye. The largest priority closure area for Marine Reserves are the San Juan Islands and the Eastern Strait. Our PSA EFC chapter had many concerns. We asked if recreational fishing was the problem. The answer was no. The problem is the non tribal longline fishery. Our Anacortes chapter President Dan Carney said "Let me understand this, You want to close and area to all fishing to stop a longline tribal fishery that you cannot enforce?" Yes was pretty much the answer. We answered with we already have a C Closure in the ocean that is off limits to us as a yelloweye conservation zone but is open to the tribes that consistently fish it. If we could keep them out we would. So in other words they want to create a private premier tribal halibut and bottomfish fishery reserve for the tribes that are causing the problem? They did not like this but this was exactly what was happening. They said that if they could not keep the tribes out then no they did not want to do it. We brought up the fact that NOAA just had a press release that showed that rockfish cannot recover when Lingcod are present. Lingcod are a detriment to rockfish recovery. We came back saying that we have seen sanctuaries that had ling cod and divers tell us that the bottom dwelling rockfish are not there. The suspended ones are. This just backs up that a No Fishing Reserve cannot work in Washington state. Tribal treaty rights are going to probably trump ESA listings. I was told by Bob Turner-Previous NOAA Assistant Administrator for the West Coast that his job was to make sure that ESA listings and Treaty Rights never meet.
We will be allowed for public comments when this comes back from Washington DC. We have problems here that others do not. We have many more issues to bring up about them when the time comes. Its going to be up to us to stop them. Especially since we already have a 120' depth restriction Washington State. We are not the problem so we should not be the ones penalized.
By the time you get this we will have had our Rally at the George Adams hatchery at the Skokomish. I wish had results but will have to comment later. The tribes and not tribals need to work together if we ever want any fisheries to return.
Join your local PSA Chapter and be part of the solution.
If enjoy Puget Sound and Snohomish River Coho fishing or enjoy helping enhance
recreational opportunities please read on!
I'm Kelli Mack from the Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club. We took over a
private salmon hatchery back in 2009 and got it back into operational condition.
To date we have raised and released over 240,000 Coho into the Snohomish River
system and currently have 88,000 more on hand to release next spring.
The eyed-eggs we receive are surplus hatchery fish, which if not kept local,
would be sent away to distant fisheries. We keep these fish in their home river
system, enriching our catching opportunities.
Although it's functional the hatchery is in need upgrades to ensure the safety
of eggs, fry, and smolt as we nurture them along their life-cycle.
Please help by making a tax deductible contribution to the campaign Snohomish &
Puget Sound Coho Fishing Enhancement going on now on Indiegogo here: Coho
Hatchery Fundraiser Link
Coho fishing in 2013 was almost 8 times better than in 2010 according to a
comparison of creel checks at the Everett Public Ramp.
Did you know that some yelloweye rockfish
that are here today were Washington residents before it became a
state in 1889? They have been and continue to be an important
part of our heritage.
Halibut and bottomfish fishing have also
been a part of Washington’s culture for hundreds of years. Many
generations of fishermen have relied on halibut and bottomfish
for food and recreation.
A recent stock assessment indicates that
the yelloweye rockfish population has declined over 80% from its
initial level. As a result, immediate action must be taken if
the stocks of these long-lived fish are to be rebuilt.
To rebuild yelloweye rockfish populations,
the harvest opportunities for this species must be severely
curtailed. In recent years, the Pacific Fishery Management
Council has set yelloweye rockfish harvest levels for all
commercial, recreational, and tribal fisheries combined for
California, Oregon, and Washington of about 17 metric tons (mt).
This number includes yelloweye rockfish that are discarded at
The Washington recreational harvest target
is about 2.7 mt (fewer than 1,000 fish) in coastal waters. To
put this in perspective, in 2001, the Washington recreational
fishery harvested 15 mt.
Yelloweye rockfish, in general, are harvested during the
Washington recreational halibut fishery. If the yelloweye
rockfish catch is projected to exceed 2.7 mt, then Pacific ocean
waters adjacent to Washington outside 25 fathoms will be closed
to recreational bottomfish fishing (including halibut).
If yelloweye rockfish cannot be avoided when anglers are
targeting halibut, then we may have to close recreational
halibut fishing in the future to protect yelloweye rockfish.
Because the yelloweye rockfish stock may not be rebuilt for over
100 years, the problem of managing the yelloweye fishery will
continue through our lifetime; however, you have the ability to
help save the halibut fishery now and preserve the yelloweye
resource for the future.
Live to be 120 years old
Range extends from Mexico to Alaska
Found in deeper, rocky bottom areas
Slow growing,low productive species
Reddish-orange in color with bright yelloweye
Commonly called "red snapper"
Often spend their entire lifetime on one rockpile
How You Can Help
If you are participating in the recreational halibut or
bottomfish fishery, please avoid areas that are known to
have yelloweye rockfish.
If you do accidentally catch a yelloweye, please return
to the water s soon as possible.
Help spread the word to others about the severity of the
yelloweye rockfish depleted population and the possible
consequences of not avoiding yelloweye areas
If you do not know what areas may have yelloweye
rockfish, please consult a local resort, motel, or charter
office or other expert before fishing