Commercial By-Catch Rate for ESA listed Wild Steelhead! II [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Commercial By-Catch Rate for ESA listed Wild Steelhead! II


Brian Simonseth
02-11-2005, 05:32 PM
Oregon Commission says 2%!

Just received a phone call from Todd in Troutsdale (sp)

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Word out of Oregon; 2% on tangle-net fishery!
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ODFW Director will talk with WDFW Director about the Tangle-net fishery!

How about them apples!
:smokin: :smokin: :D :smokin: :smokin:

From an E-Mail:

"OR Commissioners voted 4-3 to hold the incidental catch of wild steelhead on the Columbia to 2% and WA must agree with them..... I don't have all of the details but wanted to get this GREAT news out quickly."

OC
02-11-2005, 06:06 PM
Brian & Tod,

My congradulations to all who worked hard and a great big thank you to the far less evil ones of Oregon. Once in a great while we need some good news, today we got it.

Big K1
02-11-2005, 09:31 PM
Very good news!!! :)

andre
02-11-2005, 09:46 PM
Right on!!

tbuehrens
02-12-2005, 09:37 AM
I'm moving south!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 3 cheers for oregon!!!!
-Thomas

Luv2flyfish
02-12-2005, 11:46 PM
More and More I hear, read, and learn about Oregon - it seems that Oregonians DONT need a window in their stomachs to be able to See. Great News!!

Oregon (if I am not mistaken) has a NO KILL policy on ALL wild fish in their waters.......if this is the case Oregon is starting to look a little bit like home for this young guy!

roguespeycaster
02-13-2005, 10:37 AM
Oregon (if I am not mistaken) has a NO KILL policy on ALL wild fish in their waters

Chum and Coho Salmon are the only wild (unclipped) fish that have a no kill policy in Oregon rivers (unless it changed this year) Wild chinook you can keep on most rivers 2 a day 4 per week 10 per year. Wild steelhead are mostly off limits and the regs vary each year, but there is the occasional 1 fish limit.

Todd Ripley
02-13-2005, 09:27 PM
My report from the ODFW Commission meeting, 2/11/05, in Troutdale, OR, regarding the NOAA-F Biological Opinion allowing for a 6% bycatch rate on ESA-listed Columbia River basin wild winter steelhead:

First, a hearty thanks to all of the members of the Oregon sportfishing and conservation communities who showed up to testify...for reasons I'll get to next, I think it really did help a lot more than it does at the Washington Commission meetings.

The Oregon Commission.

These guys have got it down...and I'm not talking about making the right decision in this case...it was still 4-3, which is not a home run in anybody's book. I'm talking about their demeanor, and the way that Marla Rae runs the show.

When you go up to testify, you hand them 20 copies of your testimony, and it is passed out to the Commission members, staff members, to the press, and a couple left overs for their file of who spoke, and what they spoke about.

A couple of the Commissioners had a hole punch right there at their seats, and punched holes in the packets and put them into folders. As you went through your testimony, they followed along, took notes, and generally looked like they were paying attention to what you were saying. When you were done, Chair Rae asked the Commission members if they had any questions for you...and they very often did. They'd ask you to clear up a question they might have had, and since the testimony you hand in is sometimes more complete and broader than what you actually have time to testify about, they refer to things in your written testimony that you didn't have time to talk about. (I spoke about run timing and disproportionate impacts, and had several charts and graphs from WDFW, ODFW, and NOAA-F documents attached...Commissioner Smith was right in front of me, and had unattached the charts and placed them next to the written materials, and was actually referring to the charts as I was speaking about them...as were others).

If your testimony was factually different than that which a different person had testified to, they may ask you about the differences. If it isn't easily explained, they may ask the other person to come back up and have them try to explain it. If your testimony raises a question that a previous testifier may have the answer to, they'll ask if that person is still there and ask them the question then...and they actually have questions and comments, because they are taking notes and referring to the written testimony as they go along.

They are sticklers for protocol, as they should be, but are happy to joke around with the testifiers and each other, if it is not inappropriate. Every single person addressed them very respectfully, and they in turn treated every single testifier respectfully. The Chair specifically thanked me for driving down from Seattle, and noted that there were four different Washington organizations testifying, and that they were grateful to have Washington's input into their decision.

She joked that it was the most Washington organizations that had been at one of their meetings, even though it was just one person (I spoke for the Wild Steelhead Coalition, the Recreational Fishing Alliance, the Puget Sound Anglers, and the Willapa Anglers).

They had three tables all along the side of the room for the press, which were all full. They had power cords run out to the tables so each of the reporters could plug in their lap tops.

As is usual, the first testimony came from the ODFW staff, who I will also commend here and now. Using the exact same information that the Reg. 5 WDFW staff had, they outlined the proposal, noted the sometimes glaring holes in the proposal, noted the strengths of the proposal, and fielded questions about the holes and strengths with equal aplomb.

When asked about, for example, the lack of information regarding run timing and disporportionate impacts (the same issue I spoke to), they noted that there was a notable lack of that information, but that they hoped to fill in those gaps over this year's fishery.

Did they need to have the extra impacts to get that information? No, of course not. Do they feel that they will have a better handle on it for next year, whether or not they get the extra impacts this year? Yes, but we'll have to collect the data and analyze it first to know for sure.

What are the various pros and cons of going with 2,4,or 6 percent impacts?

We probably don't need six...we can almost assuredly get all of our commercial quota with 4%, but 6% would definitely assure it.

How do you feel about the current 2%? We can probably stay in that most, if not all, of the time, but 4% or 6% would make sure that we don't catch more steelhead than is legally allowable.

They stayed up there and answered questions from all of the Commissioners almost as long as they presented information. They were asking for an increase, but seemed to be honestly stating a preference while at the same time giving unbiased information about all the possibile alternatives to 6%.

At the end, they didn't say "we must have 6%, so that's our recommendation"...they thanked the Commission for their time, and asked for guidance on how to use, if at all, the additional impacts allowed by NOAA-F. When asked about their preference, they said that they'd prefer 4%...but could work with any of the percentages, with varying degrees of success.

All in all, very honest, very straightforward...and not just about their agenda, but about the holes in their data, and their desire not for a particular outcome, but for clear policy guidance on what the Commission's will was.

As public testimony then wore on (and on, and on...), a question came up about the sportfishers' impacts on wild steelhead in the tributaries...and the Commission brought the Department staff back up to answer some questions about it.

What are the impacts? Up to 6%, according to Washington, but we think it's probably closer to 2.4% for the tribs. Thanks from the Commission Chair, and back to their seats.

Lots of sportfishermen testified as to the sportfishing restrictions, reduction in hatchery production, bait and barb restrictions, and retention restrictions that they had endured, though not happily or voluntarily in all situations, at least voluntarily without much of a fight in almost all situations. They spoke about specific habitat projects they had done, and lots of anecdotes about fishing they had done in the affected streams.

At the end, they brought staff back up again, and asked more questions, referring specifically to testimony provided by several members of the conservation community...and the staff pulled out their copies and referred to their own notes to answer the questions. If they didn't have an answer, they said so. If they did, and it contradicted the testimony, they said so, and backed up their points with data and relevant information.

The Commission members all discussed it, for quite a while actually, and a clear, but close, preference to stay at 2% emerged. Englund, not unexpectedly, was amazed that NOAA-F, WDFW, and ODFW had all agreed that 6% would be just fine, and that they were even discussing it...they should just rubber stamp it and move on.

He was the only one who pushed for 6%...the other two "no" votes would not have gone above 4%, though expressed misgivings at even doing that, but were willing to go with it. One Commissioner expressed an opinion that 4% would be fine, but asked more questions, heard more answers, and decided that he, too, would like to stay at 2%.

The Chair asked Director Ball about what he had heard so far, and he said his only question to the Commission is to please give him clear and direct authority, no matter what the percentage is, so that he knows exactly what the will of the Commission is so that he can accurately negotiate on behalf of Oregon at the Columbia River Compact. A fairly informal vote took place, ended at 4-3 to stay at 2%, and that was it. There were a lot of smiling faces in the room, and a few not so smiley...among them Cindy LeFleur, who didn't look happy in the least...she had managed to make a list of names of everyone who testified against the proposal, so she ought to have my name in her little book several times by now!

Please read the next part very carefully...

All four of the Commissioners who voted for 2%, and two of the three who voted for an increase (all but Englund, another big surprise...NOT!) made the same comment...which I will paraphrase here:

First they said that the science is far from clear, no matter what the three scientific staffs say, and that they would like to see all the gaps filled in. Then...

"It looks like we can commercially harvest plenty of fish under any of the percentage rates, and with all the restrictions that sportfishermen have gone through over the years, shorter seasons, less rivers or areas open, bait and lure restrictions, etc., and all of the volunteer work they do for habitat and education, we feel that it would send the wrong message and be a slap in the face to sportsmen to raise the impact levels and put their work and resources into commercial bycatch.

They actually used those words, "wrong message" and "slap in the face"...you can't imagine how refreshing it was to hear decision makers not only care about our opinions, but to actually care about our feelings on the issues, and to be recognized as a group that takes its lumps and keeps on working to restore fish and habitat to our region.

Several quick handshakes, a few words with some reporters, and outta there to the hotel, where I promptly crashed for a few hours.

I'm sure I'll remember more later, but that's probably enough for now!

Fish on...

Todd

Leland Miyawaki
02-13-2005, 10:16 PM
Wow Todd, what a great read. Thanks for a great job. I would love to have seen Cindy's face! It sure makes our state lokk like a bunch of neanderthals.

Leland.

juro
02-13-2005, 10:44 PM
Fantastic news... there's hope yet for fisheries mgmt in modern times!

Thanks Todd, Brian for the update.

OC
02-14-2005, 09:03 AM
Can anyone tell us where this arrogance of the Washington Fish and wildlife comes from? Has it always been there or is it just this recent administration who wants to make more enemies than they do freinds. I have lived in many states and countries around the world and never have come across such a poorly run department. It seems to be a department without scientific courage and a department who has no balls to challenge the wrongs that go on when what is needed is a will to save endangered fish.

Thanks Todd and the rest of the good people who kept at it through thick or thin. Thank you Oregon governor for showing the way with your conviction for conservation.
Thank you Oregon Commission for your open mindedness and doing the right thing for Steelhead.
Unfortunately all this runs below the radar of the public and that is too bad.

Todd Ripley
02-17-2005, 01:14 PM
Steve,

I think it's been a recent combination of factors...

First, we have a public that doesn't much care, so politicians don't spend a lot of time worrying about the environment.

Second, we have a WDFW Director who's answer to every question is "harvest", then "how much", and then "how to justify it"...questions like "why?" and "even if we can, should we?" never come into play. Harvest is the goal, and harvest is the means of accomplishing the goal...it's a self-perpetuating management system, one that doesn't see value in fish except in terms of political expediency and concrete dollar signs.

Third, we have a WDFW Commission that a. doesn't educate themselves on the issue, as they are envisioned doing by the enabling legislation creating the Commission, b. is also by and large harvest oriented, and c. works effectively as a "rubber stamp" for the harvest minded Department.

Fourth, we have a federal Administration that overlays a policy of harvest and resource extraction, and it gets no more obvious than on the Columbia River, where electricity, irrigation, development, and techno fixes, combined with budget minded programs that actually benefit from keeping a low abundance of fish stocks...which leads to four disastrous Biological Opinions in a row...hatchery fish are the same as wild (contrary to every competent science), dams are part of the natural environment and do not impede recovery (contrary to every competent science), critical habitat is not really that critical (contrary to MOST competent science), and harvesting hatchery Chinook quotas is more important than fish recovery (poor policy decision).

These federal policies lead one to the conclusion that wild fish are really, really, REALLY a hindrance to efficient use of the Columbia River Watershed, and the sooner the ESA overlay is removed (by extinction, hook, or crook), the better.

This federal policy is the environment that numbers one through three above are not only allowed, but encouraged.

If more cynicism is necessary, let me know, I'd be happy to share more!!

My solution would include telling the feds to stick it (like OR's Governor), but then actually put real recovery policies in place here in WA and OR, which will include the replacement of Directors Koenings and Ball, many of the higher up policy folks at both Departments, several Commissioners from both Commissions, and Governors who have the will to make it happen.

The "new" Commissions take charge of the Departments (i.e., do their damn jobs), and set policies that put resources first, and extractive activities (including sportfishing) second. Department heads must not only know that that is the way it is, but they must buy into it. The public has to be educated enough to see the economic, social, and cultural value in doing so, and so do the fishermen who want to fish and catch fish, but may have to sacrifice even more for the good of the resource. Sport fishermen need to take a little of their own advice that they so readily share with industry and take a good hard look at their own impacts. Relatively minor compared to others, but not necessarily minor in the "big picture".

Fish on...

Todd

tbuehrens
02-17-2005, 05:46 PM
Very well said Todd!
-Thomas