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rich_simms 01-14-2004 11:46 PM

Commerial Take of Wild Steelhead to be Increased!
FYI, If this does not outrage you, I don't know what will, The Wild Steelhead Coalition just got a from RFA, notifying us that they had just heard that WDFW is asking NOAA Fisheries for an allowable ESA impact on Col. R. ESA Steelhead of 5-7%, up from last year's 2%.Please take the time to write and call the appropriate people.

Also taken from piscatorial pursuits:

OK guys, here's a post that Silver Hilton posted on I-fish. It's got a link so you can find your local pols, and a sample letter that you can copy and paste. Lets each spend 10 minutes making it happen.

posted 01-13-2004 07:22 PM

I sent the following note to my legislators today, and to several of my friends, asking them to do the same. We can still make some noise on this side of the border, should we choose.

I'd like to ask that you each write your state congressmen. I have taken the steps to make it easy. First, go here and figure out who your representative is

Then, select the member and send them the following e-mail, or something similar.

See, easy! It will take you just minutes, and may help our fishing.


Clip below here.


I am writing to ask for your support in the area of the Columbia River Spring Salmon Fishery. In the next few weeks, Oregon and Washington departments of fish and wildlife will be deciding how to allocate the catching of Columbia River Spring salmon between sport and commercial fishermen. While the run this year is expected to be fairly strong, the season will likely be restricted for the sport fishermen, due to impacts on wild salmon that run at the same time as the hatchery salmon. The catch is allocated between sport and commerical fishermen, based on their estimated impact to wild fish. Both groups must let wild fish go, but some percentage of the wild fish will die due to handling. The sport catch mortality rate on these released fish has historically been 10% or less, and sport fishermen may be required to use certain handling procedures that will reduce this catch further. The mortality on wild bycatch by gill netters using tangle nets is 18%. The wild fish are anticipated to be about 30% of the overall run. Neither group can avoid catching wild fish - fishing by either group impacts the wild fish. However, sports fishing is almost twice as efficient as commercial fishing in harvesting the hatchery salmon within the Endangered Species Act guidelines.

Currently, proposals are on the table to allocate the impacts between sport and commercial fishermen 50-50, or possibly 45% commercial, and 55% sport. I'd like you to persuade the Washington State personnel engaged in this decision, specifically, Dr. Jeff Koenings, Director, Washington Fish And Wildlife Commission, Bill Tweit, Columbia River Policy Lead and Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River Harvest Manager, to allow a greater percentage of this catch for sport fishers. Dr. Koenig is at 360 902 2947, Mr. Tweit is at 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia WA 98501 - (360) 902-2723. Ms. LeFleur is at 2108 Grand Boulevard, Vancouver 98661 - (360) 906-6708.
Based on past history, this impact will require the sport season to be restricted sometime in mid april, right at the peak of the run. This is disastrous for sport fishermen, as the weather is just getting nice and the fishing just getting good when the season will be restricted.

It makes sense to allocate the catch more to sports fishermen for several reasons:

1) There are simply vastly more sport fishermen. Tens of thousands of sports anglers will pursue these fish, while there are only about 200 commercial fishermen.

2) Sports angling is more efficient in harvesting the hatchery salmon, in terms of the impact on the wild fish that occurs in catching fish. By allowing commercial harvest, we are in effect wasting a certain number of hatchery salmon that could have been caught by the sport angler. These fish will go unharvested.

3) The sports fishermen contribute much more to the economy per fish caught and per fishing day than the commercial fishermen do. The economic impact of sportfishing for salmon dwarfs the commercial gain from gillnetting. The commercial harvest is currently estimated to bring about $1,800,000 into the economy. Sportsfishers, on the other hand, spend an average of $100 a day for fishing. On a busy saturday in April, there will be 2000 boats fishing for salmon, with 2 to 4 people fishing. That is an estimated revenue impact of $600,000 a day. Three days of sports fishing will equal the economic impact of the entire commercial season.

4) These fish are raised to be caught. There is a large group of people that would like opportunities to catch them. Shutting down the sport fishery, which will certainly happen unless the allocation is modified, will reduce the opportunity for many people to catch these fish.

5) Finally, the commercial fishermen have been resistant to improving their catch methods to reduce mortality in the wild fish bycatch. Giving them 50% of the wild fish kill quota rewards them for not improving their catch methods and recovery tank usage.

We realize that the commercial fishermen feel vested in the fishery, and have a traditional stake there. However, in these days of declining resources, adjustments need to be made, and it is time to allow the sports fisher more access to this resource.

Please contact the state personnel shown, and ask them to weight the sport fishery more heavily in the catch allocation. We ask for a 70% Sport, 30% Commercial allocation.

Thank you.

sinktip 01-15-2004 12:56 AM


You have me and others confused on this one. Are these two items linked? I think you are calling for a protest of the proposed Columbia River salmon fishery (tangle tooth net???) becasue of the impact on steelhead stocks which also happen to be ESA listed. Is this right? And are you also reporting that WDFW and ODFW are arguing that allowable steelhead bycatch should be raised above the 2% current rate? If I decode correctly, then yes, this does tick me off. That fishery needs to be shut down plain and simple.

If I didn't decode it correctly, please clarify.
Either way, thanks for the update. You and the WSC are our eyes and ears. Keep up the good work.


flytyer 01-15-2004 01:27 AM


I assume you are talking about WDFW increasing the allowable by-catch of wild upriver Columbia steelhead (i.e. Snake, Grand Ronde, Entiat, Wenatchee, Methow, Yakima, and Okanogan stcck).

If so, like Sinktip, this really makes my blood boil! NOAA will not allow the Wenatchee be opened or even consider it being opened for C&R for another 4 years because of the very low mortality in a C&R fishery, which they call unacceptable. Yet, the info you posted indicates that it is OK with them and WDFW to have far more of the upriver Columbia steelhead killed by the commercial salmon netters than would ever be killed in a C&R fishery. All so a few commercial salmon netters can use more efficent nets and thus catch more fish in a shorter time. AARGG!!!!!

If I am wrong on this, please clarify.

juro 01-15-2004 05:42 AM

It's about time we went to selective commercial fishing methods, like weirs and traps especially on dammed rivers like the Columbia where it would be relatively easy. The information gathered would be valuable, virtually no wild fish would be killed, and the costs of the 200 commercial fishermen would be reduced creating dramatically increased margins. Tens of thousands of fishermen should use their clout to buy out the 200 commercial fishermen and keep the gill nets out for the inaugural season, coordinating with biologists to measure the impact on the runs, using that data to move toward selective commercial fishing techniques (above) to help get things rolling the first year.

Hatchery fish of premium quality could be culled into shaved ice bins at traps near ladders without affecting native strains or protected species, producing a more efficient harvest and a better product for consumers. The profit margin over running a 30,000 boat and managing nets, paying crew, etc - would be ridiculously improved, thus yielding higher $$. Any difference in profitability after allocation to existing commercial interests could even be used to fund the phase-out program further, or else given to the commercial interests to make them like the approach better themselves (more money, less work).

The problem would be allocation of these fish / rights to the 200 commercial anglers. My suggestion would be a lottery system available only to grandfathered commercial anglers granted within peak return times. They'd all get a shot, but days would be granted in a lottery.

Native American interests would be required to abide by these rules as well.

It would be different, but it would yield a higher profit margin, a better quality product, and virtually eliminate by-kill.

If only I were king... :)

Hammer 01-15-2004 12:34 PM

that's a dirty word,for sure,i've spoken with a long since retired commercial fisherman,,,,he got out in the eighties,,he stated they just threw the `unwanted',,,add whatever here;cutthroat,coho,over the side,,since it was illegle to bring them in,,it bothered him then,guess it still haunts him,,a lot of dynamics on the fishery there,,since some of those fish run way upriver,,what's the best way to come up to speed on info,?,i thought the state was buying out most of the commercial guys,at least in ore.???,,it's not like people don't eat,,but,,,,,,i try and `keep the faith',,,,with the `experts',,,,fish,n' game,,,,that's their `business',,wasn't the fishery closed offshore for,springers,upriver brights ,about three years back altogether?

KerryS 01-15-2004 01:06 PM


As an ex-commercial fisherman myself, PS gillnetter for 12 years, I question the fellow you talked to. Bycatch of steelhead, coho, kings is rare, at least by Puget Sound gillnetters. I never caught a cutt. Many factors involved, wrong time of year, mesh size, etc. We still would get something once in awhile. Not sure what type of gear your guy was fishing but for me when I got a steelhead or some other fish that I wasn't supposed to have it went home with me. The only thing I would throw overboard would be trash fish like rats and such. Spent some time sieneing and we would cook up anything like a steelhead for dinner. Still it was rare to get one even in a purse siene. I don't think steelhead mingle much with salmon.

Not sure what to think about the increase in bycatch percentages. Need to learn more. If this is indeed mostly about the Columbia River fisheries I can see where there would be more of a problem with bycatch.

rich_simms 01-15-2004 01:48 PM

Apologize about the confusion, I was in a hurry last evening and just wanted to get some info out. There is a request out to raise the incidental commercial fishing kill on ESA listed wild steelhead from 2% to 7% for the upcoming commercial spring chinook fishery on the Columbia River.

This whole tangle net fishery has been a fiasco for up river endangered wild steelhead as well as depressed runs on the lower columbia tributaries. As soon as I know more I will post it.

This is a note I recieved from Dick Burge our VP of Conservation.

Guys---I just got an e-mail from Trustee Jim Tuggel on the subject. It will come up at the F&W Commission meeting/hearing in Olympia this Friday and Sat. The request is for a 7% incidental kill on listed wild steelhead!

Some of these fish are threatened and others are endangered (in other words--some are near extinction). They may never recover if this type of mortality continues. We shouldn't be killing
a single one in a commercial net fishery let alone the allowed 2% or this new and unbelievable number of 7%.

OC 01-15-2004 02:53 PM

Maybe it's time to get every sportfisher from Oregon and Washington together for a march on the capital. It's time the Gov. know that we are getting fed up with this BS.

I'm sure our F&G employees like Bob Gibbons will think we couldn't do it. Wanna make a bet!


Hammer 01-15-2004 03:22 PM

Kerry S
the man said he ran out of either brookings or crescent city,got out when the economy went in the toilet ,about 81,,that's all i know?????

flytyer 01-15-2004 04:18 PM


Thanks for clarifying that it is a proposal by the commercials and not something that NOAA or WDFW has agreed to, yet. However, this is still an important issue and we sportfishers need to make out voices heard to the politicians in Olympia to stop this lunacy.


I like your idea, tell us where to meet. Gibbons needs a wake up call!

OC 01-15-2004 04:39 PM


I agree with you on Puget Sound. Bycatch is very low indeed, anyway that's what the records show. But on the Columbia we have wild Steelhead and the Chinook entering the river at the same time.

I for one would much rather see the commercials having a season with tight restrictions. The only alternative is aquaculture and that is a dead end road for our wild Steelhead and wild Chinook. The tangle net is a loooooooser but you won't get the state or feds to admit to it. Sometimes ideas that seem good at the begining are not so good when put into action and that's the tangle net. Even if they perfect the tangle net it won't work, anyone who has been a commercial knows that time is money and you will never see a commercial taking the time to use a tangle net properly. The time has come for fish traps and let the commercials have their 25% of Columbia River hatchery fish, sport fishermen their 25% and the natives their 50% of MSY. That is fair and it is law. Trap fishing would mean the release of all wild fish.

Anyone have any expertise on this???

rich_simms 01-15-2004 07:58 PM

FYI, From the WSC VP of Political Affairs-

Here are more pieces of contact information to use...and use often and immediately!

1. Bob Lohn, Reg. Admin., NOAA Fisheries
7600 Sand Pt. Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115-0070

To send comments electronically, go here:
NOAA Fisheries Comments

2. Dr. Jeff Koenings, Dir. WDFW

Office Address:
Natural Resources Bldg.
1111 Washington St.
Olympia, WA 98501

Mailing Address:
600 Capital Way
Olympia, WA 98501-1091
360-902-2947 fax

3. Lee Van Tussenbrook, Reg. 5 Director
Cindy LeFleur, Col. R. Harvest Manager
2108 Grand Blvd.
Vancouver, WA 98661
360-906-6776 fax

4. WDFW Commission

This whole "tangle net" fishery is a joke to begin with...the encounter rates of wild springers and wild steelhead was unacceptable to begin with when it was set at 2%. This will just increase both the encounter and mortality rates for several runs of fish listed either as threatened or endangered under the ESA.

At the risk of sounding naive, or perhaps idealistic, this is yet another opportunity for all sportfishers and conservationists to get together and do something good.

I can't help but think that the only reason the powers that be think they can get away with this is that we have shown an insurmountable ability to find any reason whatsoever to splinter ourselves into politically weak fragments.

I urge all of us to encourage the cooperation of all the various fishing and conservation groups in this endeavor, and to not let sniping and disagreements about other issues color the fact that this will require us all to be on the same page, or business as usual will continue.

Fish on...

rich_simms 01-15-2004 11:47 PM

FYI, From the WSC VP of Political Affairs, Here's your chance to get involved!

As many, or all, of you know, WDFW has requested that NOAA Fisheries approve a THREE-FOLD increase in allowable mortality on wild ESA listed steelhead in the Columbia River for the non-tribal commercial "tangle net" spring chinook fishery. If approved, this allocation of mortality will be set in stone for the next three seasons.

The request is to up the allowable from last year's 2% to 5%-7% for the next three seasons.

I doubt that there's anyone among you who think that the 2% was acceptable to begin with, and the requested rates are triply unacceptable.

In an effort to ramrod the process, the request was made public just yesterday, the one and only WDFW hearing on the request will be Saturday, and the decision is reportedly slated to be made during the week next week.

First, I'd encourage everyone to not only go down to the hearing Saturday, but to encourage everyone else you know to do it, too.

For my part, I have a van that can seat myself and seven others, and I plan on driving it down. Anyone from the Seattle area that wants to go with me is welcome, until the van is full, of course. All I would ask is that everyone kick in $5 to cover the gas.

We could spend the hour, hour and a half, strategizing and pooling our information and resources to present some sort of a unified front. The more folks representing the most groups, the better.

Thanks, everyone, and please forward this to any lists or BB's that you would like to make sure that my van is full and that the freeway is full of others driving down there. We really need to take it to 'em on this.

The meeting is at 10 am at the Natural Resources Building in Olympia, 1111 Washington Street.

I can be reached at 425-281-0571, or at .

Fish on...

Todd Ripley
VP Political and Legal Affairs
Wild Steelhead Coalition,

Smalma 01-16-2004 08:54 AM

Rich -
Am I correct in assuming that WSC also finds that even a 2% impact by the combined sport fisheries to also be unacceptable. Does that mean that even a 1% hooking mortality (1/2 of 2%) in sport fishing would also be unacceptable?

Think that you'll have a tough row to hoe if the sport community isn't willing to accept the same standards for itself. Reserving what minimal inpacts that are allowed to just a sport fishery makes sense to us anglers I suspect that issue is even more complex than that given the mandates of the various State and Federal agencies. For example in managing such fisheries NMFS must consider conflicting policy or directions. The top two directions are ESA and Treaty concerns (unclear to me which has the highest priority), next in line would the direction from the Magunson act (maintance of viable fisheries).

Tight lines

Jeff 01-16-2004 12:12 PM


You know that isn't what was being said. It is my understanding that the 2% impact is 2% of the total run. So if the run was 100 fish that the now acceptable kill rate on that run would be 2 fish. You know it isn't 2% mortality on one fish. So the commercial fisherman would have to take about 11 fish to get 2 dead one (18-19% mortality). And yes I know that sports fisherman have an impact too. Sport fisherman would have to release around 30 fish to kill their 2 fish (5-10% mortality). Who has an easier time taking there "allowable" number of wild fish to reach the allowable limit of dead fish?

It is also my understanding that between 30 and 50 of the fish these nets catch are wild fish and have to be released. I am sorry the impact is pretty huge and this fishery is hurting more then helping.

I personally would say yes 1% total impact would be better. But I speak for myself. And yes I know it would limit sport fishery too.

But why is the state asking for NOAA to increase the acceptable rate to 5-7%? So the commercial boats get a longer season.


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