What hope is there? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: What hope is there?

12-19-2004, 12:03 AM
I guess I am one not given to high levels of optimism. In fact i easily give into dispair. When it comes to steelhead it is doubly so. I just don't see anything good happening for the long term survival of the species. We have government agencies who have no interest in saving these fish. We have companies running the show who make their fortune by destroying the fish and their habitat and a group of sport anglers who have deep and unresolvable differences.
I'll be perfectly honest, i see no hope or reason to have any hope for the future exsistence of wild steelhead. I suppose there might be the tiniest glimmer of hope for some rivers in Oregon and MAYBE!! a couple rivers in Washington and then only winters.
Now, is there anyone out there who can supply any hope? I am pretty single minded in life and would say life is meaningless without wild steelhead...

12-19-2004, 12:34 AM

Our biggest challenge is not single mindedness. We are our own largest challege, we all view multiple boards and have observed the following debates indicators, long, short, mid belly is better, this cast that cast, sinktip, dry line.... the debates are endless. We are argumentitive in regards to our pursuit of our passion. The back office politics and personal gain does not stop in the board room it lives within our organizations, between them and between sister (gear type) clubs and organizations. Do I have a solution ? no however I am curious have TU, SSBC, WSC, OT, SC... and the others ever held any meetings to organize for the "common cause"? Should we have a coup within these orgainzations to come to a common cause?


Sorry for the rant, I was drinking wine before the Scotch!

12-19-2004, 02:27 AM
Andre, I don't think it matters how many organizations can come to an aggreement. I don't think it would help if every angler in the nation wrote daily letters to thg governing agencies and corperations that are controlling this issue.
I do not believe that any of thoes companies and agencies care about our collective opinions or the fish. In my mind one thing is certain. Wild steelhead have no allies, no human ones anyway.. foregive my rant i am too sobered by reality.

Green Butt
12-19-2004, 04:41 PM
I agree with what you say. It looks bleak.
It actually looks pretty bleak to me for long term survival of the human species.
If humans can't get it together to rise above profit and nationality and religion then we don't deserve to occupy this planet.

Green Butt
12-19-2004, 07:48 PM
Oh, I forgot to say--"Always look on the bright side of life!"

12-19-2004, 07:51 PM

Do I have a solution ? no however I am curious have TU, SSBC, WSC, OT, SC... and the others ever held any meetings to organize for the "common cause"? Should we have a coup within these orgainzations to come to a common cause?


Sorry for the rant, I was drinking wine before the Scotch!

Answer: Steelhead Summit Alliance in progress, suggest you or your organization get involved.

12-19-2004, 08:50 PM

Well I guess since you are aware and involved this would be the perfect forum to inform people of what is going on and how the get involved. It appears the summit is fairly "stealth". I have in the past been fairly involved both from the financial and time persective, every organization had "inner circles" which drove agendas. So let us know about the Steelhead Summit who is involved, objective, and how and where to get involved.

12-19-2004, 11:21 PM
Andre, The Steelhead Summit Alliance (SSA) was started by the WSC, to get as many diverse organizations together to create a common voice for steelhead on the many issues facing them. The meetings have been posted on the WSC website and also the various bb's, including this one.

To give you a flavor of the diversity of the Summit, there are organizations from BC to California involved, such as TU, BC Steelhead Society, Puget Sound Anglers, American Rivers, FFF Steehead Committee, many other equally important clubs and organizations from around the PNW. Each organization sends 1-2 representitives.

We just completed the 5th Summit in November in Bellvue, Wash and was well attended. After the first Summit the attenders broke off into ad-hoc committees and have or are in process of developing position papers on the many issues facing wild steelhead including harvest, habitat, instream flows, hatchery reform, etc. This has also developed into a networking mechanism for action alerts on the many issue that pop up regarding the plight of wild steelhead for example the latest effort to boost the bycatch percentage of wild steelhead in the commerical fishery on the Columbia targeting hatchery spring chinook.

I agree, that the SSA needs more advertising, The visiability of SSA has captured the attention of different agencys and recently a donation by Patagonia help fund Summit 4 and recently the NW Women Fly Fisher made a donation to fund Summit 6 in May 2005. If you have ideas or connection to how to help get the word out, great, let us know.

I have included the last meeting minutes. Let me know if your organization is interested or would like more information.

Steelhead Summit Alliance Five
Nov. 6, 2004, at the Sheraton Hotel, Bellevue, WA

Facilitator Jack Berryman gave his opening remarks, starting at 8:30 a.m. Jack said the Summit Alliance has made some gains in working to preserve and restore wild steelhead, has gotten the attention of several government agencies, but that there remains a lot to be done.
Summit co-chair Dave Bailey got things started. He said 36 people were in attendance, including three who flew from California and two from British Columbia. There also were three guest speakers from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and another from the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA Fisheries). Dave said several fly fishing clubs in California have shown an interest in the Alliance and have contacted him but were not present.

Dick Burge, program chairman, introduced Amilee Wilson, the first female to manage a state fish hatchery. She has been promoted several times and now is in charge of monitoring salmon stocks, including steelhead. She began a slide show that
included maps of the western states on endangered, threatened, and not warranted stocks. These included Puget Sound, the Olympic Peninsula, showing the upper Columbia River as endangered. They were broken into smaller listings, including 137 stocks 36 threatened, 42 depressed, 1 critical in 1992. In 2002, 28 were threatened and 41 were depressed. She said production appears very poor for the Skagit River basin from 2000 to 2002. Surveys of the Snohomish River showed depressed stocks in 2002. The Green River was rated healthy. The Puyallup was rated depressed in 1992 and below escapement goals since 1994. The Tahuya River stocks were rated as depressed and below the escapement goal in 1999. The state has no data on the Skokomish River on data and escapement because it is not monitored. Data there was incomplete in 1992, 1993, 1996 and 1997 because of high water and is now rated as depressed. The Dungeness was rated as depressed in 1992 for the winter run but spawn timing is unknown for summer run.

Data from the Olympic Peninsula rivers including the Quillayute shows data because of low harvest numbers but the the Bogachiel was healthy in 1992 and in 2002. There is no data on the Sol Duc for summer run but the winter run was healthy in both of those years. On the Calawah data on the summer run was unknown but the winter run was rated as healthy. There was no data on the summer run in the Queets because it is not monitored but the winter run was rated as healthy in 1992. The Quinault run has been healthy both years.

In southwest Washington, there has been no data on the summer runs and the winter runs have been in a long decline since 1986 but are now recovering, although in 2002 they were rated as depressed. There is no data from the Chehalis for summer the run and it is as rated unknown. The winter run there is rated healthy although escapements have been relatively stable from 1999 to 2004. The Wynoochee has been healthy both of those years and the Satsop winter run was found to be depressed both years. Research found chronically low abundance in the North and Smith Rivers but they have historically had a small number and now are rated as healthy. No escapement goals are listed for them. The Willapa River winter run had no monitoring before 1996 because of reduced spawning potential from logging and cattle farms. No data is available for the Cowlitz River. The east fork of the Lewis River was found to be depressed both times but it has a chronically low escapement. The Kalama River from 1998 to 2001 has met only 14 to 33 percent of goal. Its tributaries are rated 30 percent depressed, and 48 are rated unknown because the state has no data.

Berryman asked how volunteers could help. Ms.Wilson said the budget for department is cut every year. Her office, SASI, sets parameters for ratings but the tribes and regional people do the actual counting. Salmonscape is part of department web site and has this information.

It needs to be understood that this slide show went rapidly and Ms. Wilson spoke quickly, so there may be some glitches in this part of the report. If there are questions, the information should be checked with her.

The next speaker was Curt Kraemer, Department of Fish and Wildlife marine biologist for north Puget Sound. Kraemer used a series of graphs on an overhead projector to make his points. Explaining escapement goals, he showed graph samples and said it has three points. Two of them are carrying capacity and management for sustained yield. It is used as anchor point for evaluating runs and is mandated by federal court. It has a checkered history of failures and some successes. Made up of family of curves, carrying capacity is in some cases actually lower that the number of fish in the system. At one time, if there were three fish above MSY, it was believed the fish were wasted. It is known that marine survival varies widely from year to year and from river to river. Populations are dynamic and shift all over from time to time. He was asked about measuring rivers by smolts. Kurt said too expensive to count smolts on most rivers. Said Oregon bases estimates on carrying capacity, rather than MSY. On the Snohomish River, for example, the state started factoring in catch and release and numbers started to change for the worst. Carrying capacity has dropped well below 6,000 fish with biggest change in marine environment. The nature of the beast is that the resource flip-flops. The steelhead are rainbow trout but not all rainbow are steelhead. Management has not been able to remove rainbow trout from streams in the counting. In the north fork of Stillaguamish River, the steelhead catch was cut and the run increased and the reverse was true. In the north fork of the Skykomish River, bull trout, the state ruled to forbid keeping any bull trout less than 20 inches. Now there is a ten-fold increase in abundance and we are assured that all females spawn at least once. Water flows are so high in the Skagit River that big rivers produced smolts in the main stem. In the Snohomish River, the goal for wild coho is 70,000 and now the count is 270,000 but three streams used to index streams have had no coho in them and this fall we will find out how many got upstream and will spawn.in 2006 and 2008. In the Skykomish River we lost hell of a lot of chinook productivity but we canít move fish catches by not fishing. We have taken away the elasticity of our habitat productivity.

Jim Scott was the next speaker. He is the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife director of research and said he got into this work because we like fish, not to make a lot of money. The staff puts in 20 to 30 percent free time. Director Koenigs said he wanted to increase the role of science in department management policies. Recently he has spent most of his time on scientific recovery panel put together by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He said there sometimes is a lack of communication because there is difference of 15 to 20 years between science and management in the department.
He distributed a draft outline of a scientific paper and said it is extremely important to study the makeup of the populations. He said it is possible we have been managing at too gross a scale. Questions the panel has faced include how is productivity changing, what is the role of habitat and marine driven nutrients, how much habitat degradation has there been. He said we need to address habitat factors. He said there have been breakthroughs in habitat populations and the genetics tools to determine how many fish are produced. They need to learn what is the relative success of a hatchery fish spawning in the wild, is predation effecting production and to think about the role of spawners in maintaining runs. Answers to those questions probably have been a little too simple in the past considerations. He said that at a meeting Nate Mantua suggested looking at what is the goal of management. Part of the problem is to think about the agency's budget now because we donít have the staff we once had. One of the problems is how we can bring in more funding and do the assessments that we need. It does not look like natural resource agencies in the state will get any more money. The panel started work in March of last year and will send out a draft of a paper for comment by people within the department. The target date for release of the panel report is early next year, January possibly, for review by a broad audience. It is now well over 100- pages of text. He said WDFW wants to get the broadest review. It will be finalized soon after that. That is public review in early January. The plan is to complete early next spring and make it relevant to 2006. One of the questions is how to move forward with a management plan and we need to learn from it to show what we donít know. Something we need to focus on. He also said the state needs to prioritize its needs.

After lunch Kaitlin Lovell introduced Rob Walton of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He said one of the key questions will be how the government treats the environment. He said that will be one of the battlegrounds. He works in salmon recovery planning. Several issues he said his agency is working on include biological review team report, coastal proposed determinations, are based on two federal rulings, used proposed hatchery listing policy, etc. The agency has reaffirmed its commitment to natural ecosystems. He said that hatcheries can hurt. High abundance of one population by itself is not adequate to show that the environmentally sustainable unit is viable. Hatchery fish will be included in ESUs. He said emphasis is still on naturally spawning salmon and that hatcheries canít solve fundamental problems. He said a battle over which watersheds deserve priority will be a major fight. He said there is nothing I know that says you only need a hatchery system. Pedigree analysis will determine what we do with fish populations. To a question, he said the background on hatchery decision was farther toward natural selection, definitely felt the need to go to Science Magazine to get it out. He said many scientists at NOAA said the review was good but went too far. He said there is enormous social pressure to be able to catch fish and that a lot of the criticism is of old hatchery practices. Cost effectiveness is so important we may never be able to fill positions at NOAA Northwest. A key question is does the public have the will to shut down hatcheries and fix the habitat and would the fish would be better off. NOAA says some hatchery systems produce fish close enough to natural fish and there is a huge amount of support for the old hatcheries. There is political support for old hatcheries because of expenses. The problem with rainbow trout is a two-edged sword. In a study in Oregon, there was more DNA coming in than going out because of resident rainbow. At some point the public will say donít go there, we want more funding for natural habitat.

Rob Masonis from American Rivers and chair of the habitat committee said several policy papers his committee has developed are good enough to be distributed. they address river flow, passage barriers, and riparian zones. His hydropower committee also submitted a final draft SSA policy on hydropower. These were all generally accepted by attendees, who are encouraged to have their organizations sign on to the policies for maximum clout.

Rob added that the Department of the Interior has proposed very bad rule that puts it in a position to challenge positions supporting the environment. Governor Locke yesterday signed a letter opposing it, and Rob will circulate a similar letter of opposition for SSA groups to sign, as well as a letter to the U.S. senators from Washington and Oregon, objecting to NOAA's new draft biological opinion regarding federal hydropower dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

Bill Redman's final draft, as chair of the ESA committee, was also presented to attendees, with 22 signatory SSA groups noted. This is to be submitted to NOAA-Fisheries by the November 12 deadline for comments.

Beth Kuhn, chair of the education and outreach committee, said it has not been very active but is about to set up meetings with key legislators and take policy papers from this group to them. She asked that members who are interested in helping with that contact her by email at elizabeth_ _kuhn@hotmail.com <mailto:elizabeth_ _kuhn@hotmail.com>.

Dick Burge and Nate Mantua of the harvest management committee said it has agreed on clear mission statement and developed a set of over-arching management goals and design policies that will achieve those goals. ďTo improve and protect the diversity, abundance, distribution and productivity of wild steelhead populations and work towards the development of sustainable fisheries.Ē It also wants to increase the health of wild steelhead stocks, develop sustainable steelhead fisheries and reform hatchery policies by designing fisheries focused on maximum sustained recreation, not MSY. Steelhead are sport fish, not food fish, and MSY has not proven to be sustainable with many other fisheries. The alternative is to allow only catch and release fishing for wild steelhead when a run is projected to be between 100 and 150 of the escapement goal. Allow up to 10 percent of combined sport and tribal, allow only bank fishing and selective gear regulations between 100 and 110 percent, from selective gear regulations between 110 and 120, fishing from boats would be ok, from 120 to 150. These rules would apply if the prediction calls for a wild run below its escapement goal, but with selective gear regulations for hatchery season.
They also said new harvest models must be developed to redistribute wild steelhead harvest impacts away from early returning fish to allow early returning wild steelhead to rebuild their numbers. It may be necessary to close Olympic Peninsula and Puget Sound rivers to wild steelhead fishing between May 1 and January 31. The wild harvest season would be open only February 1 through April 30. This would reduce the negative impact of hatchery operations on wild steelhead, specifically in wild salmonid management zones and significant basins with no hatchery plants. Kraemer suggested Sauk river as one place to experiment with this approach. All of this will require monitoring and evaluation of wild stocks in creeks feeding the Snake River, Chehalis River tributaries, improved enforcement such as the Eyes In The Woods programs, and jaw tags issued for the number of fish available for harvest. It is better to protect resident fish and rear them in anadromous waters and use selective gear regulations from March 1 through October 31. Would need to raise the minimum size for rainbows and steelhead to 20 inches and allow additional time and area closures.

Dick Burge and Dave Bailey, Summit co-chairs, led a discussion on completing committee issue papers, on the variety of steelhead issues. Several, discussed above, have gained at least a majority acceptance within SSA. Others are still being processed in committee.

Dave went on to solicit comments on the three SSA "steering documents" that have been in the works for the past two Summits: Who We Are; Goal, Objectives and Strategies; and Policy Development and Adoption Procedures. No negative comments were heard, and these documents will be considered approved. The adoption procedures have been fairly effective, however success requires that all primary contacts move the drafts promptly through their organizations' approval processes. As for a central, electronic depository for all SSA issue papers and other documents, the Wild Steelhead Coalition will attempt to incorporate them into its Web site, at www.wildsteelheadcoalition.com, as soon as possible.

Poul Bech and Tyler Kushnir of the Steelhead Society of B.C. spoke briefly concerning several provincial issues negatively effecting steelhead, such as a short notice commercial chum salmon opener on the Thompson River system, on top of an already distressed run of steelhead. Despite the short notice, email alerts (including SSA's) led to an impressive number of complaints to their fish managers. Groups wishing to support our conservationist colleagues to the north should contact Poul at pbbech@shaw.ca.

All SSA member groups are reminded to recruit new steelhead advocacy groups, and to serve on as many issue committees as feasible. Consensus indicated that Summit meetings should continue on a semi-annual schedule. Summit VI is tentatively scheduled for May 7, 2005. Thus far, the meetings have been hosted by the Wild Steelhead Coalition, but other groups are welcome to host a Summit, or assist in any way. The approximate cost has been about $1,000.

Summit V was adjourned at 5:00 p.m.

Proceedings recorded by Dee Norton, Wild Steelhead Coalition

12-20-2004, 12:27 PM

Thanks for providing the minutes, I will review them


12-22-2004, 11:26 AM
Andre and others, Here is a definition of the Steelhead Summit Alliance (SSA)-

Steelhead Summit Alliance - Who We Are

The Steelhead Summit Alliance (SSA) is a consortium of organizations pursuing a common goal: conservation and restoration of wild steelhead populations throughout their native range. The purpose of forming the SSA is to coordinate wild steelhead advocacy among the participating groups, and to enable participating groups to advocate collectively to maximize our efficacy in obtaining policies, laws and regulations to achieve our goals.

The SSA is comprised of some 40 organizations from California to British Columbia that have participated in one or more summit meetings and have expressed an interest in forming an alliance. They include fishing clubs, fish advocacy groups, and conservation organizations at the local, state and national levels. A volunteer steering committee has been formed to assist in managing the SSA.

The SSA is an informal collaboration and is not organized as a separate legal entity. The SSA is only a forum for participating groups to communicate and strategize regarding wild steelhead conservation; it does not take positions on behalf of participating groups and participating groups must determine for themselves their positions on specific issues.

To date, ten issue committees have been formed within the SSA to develop general policies on such issues as hatcheries, hydropower, habitat, ESA listings, education/outreach, research, and enforcement. These policies are intended to guide the advocacy of participating groups, but are not binding and participating groups can use or not use these policies as they deem appropriate.

A principal purpose of the SSA is to establish a communication network through which member groups can be informed of policy, legal and management issues regarding wild steelhead conservation and take action to influence decision-makers. By joining the SSA, groups agree to become part of this network. However, participation in the network does not require any group to take action on any particular issue or to adopt a particular position.

[November 6, 2004]
Accepted by Summit IV attendees