Great News For Wild Steelhead
OLYMPIA - The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission today adopted new sportfishing rules for the 2004-05 season that include a two-year moratorium on retaining any wild steelhead caught in state waters.
The moratorium, adopted on a 5-3 vote, will require anglers to release any steelhead caught from April 1, 2004 to March 31, 2006 that is not marked as a hatchery fish by a missing adipose fin and a healed scar.
Drawing from a list of 463 proposed changes - 336 of them submitted by the public - the commission also adopted new handling requirements for releasing salmon and steelhead that cannot be retained, additional protection for Columbia River sturgeon and fixed starting dates for recreational crab fishing.
Commissioners also declined to take action on several proposals, including one to ban treble hooks in saltwater fisheries and another to prohibit the use of motorized vessels on the Satsop and Wynoochee Rivers.
Commissioner R.P. Van Gytenbeek of Seattle initiated the discussion about requiring the release of wild steelhead by calling for a permanent ban on wild steelhead retention. When that motion failed, the commission considered and rejected the idea of a six-year moratorium before scaling it back to two years.
"In this case, I think a half a loaf is better than no loaf at all," Van Gytenbeek said. "A lot of people in this state are concerned about the decline of our wild steelhead stocks and I think a moratorium gets us started down the right path."
Commission Chair Will Roehl of Bellingham did not share that view, noting that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is currently working on a new comprehensive plan for steelhead management, tailored to specific stocks.
"I can't support banning retention of wild steelhead on rivers where stocks are healthy and returns are strong," Roehl said. "I don't think this broad-brush action is warranted, but that appears to be the will of commission."
When releasing steelhead or salmon that cannot be retained under state law, anglers will have to follow new handling procedures approved today by the commission. Measures adopted by the commission prohibit completely removing salmon or steelhead caught in lakes or streams from the water or pulling them into a boat in Puget Sound prior to release.
To provide greater protection for Columbia River sturgeon, the commission extended the closed area below Bonneville Dam approximately two miles downstream to Marker 85 from May 1 to July 31. All sturgeon fishing - whether from a boat or from the bank - will be prohibited in the expanded closure area, where the fish tend to congregate.
In addition, the annual harvest of sturgeon for personal use was reduced from 10 fish to five statewide, and sturgeon seasons recently developed in conjunction with Oregon were adopted as permanent rules for the 2004-05 season.
Recreational crabbers, meanwhile, can expect greater certainty in the timing of their seasons in the coming year. For the first time since 2000, the commission set opening dates for each marine area rather than relying on tests to determine when the crab have finished their molt.
Improved data on molting periods provided by WDFW allowed the commission to set opening dates this year for crab fisheries in all 13 marine areas of Puget Sound and the Washington coast, Roehl said.
"We're pleased that we've reached this point," Roehl said. "Now we have the data we need to protect the resource, while allowing people to plan their vacations."
In other matters the commission:
· Clarified rules prohibiting snagging, making it illegal to hook and retain a fish (other than forage fish) to the rear of its gill plate.
· Adopted a three-month catch-and-release fishery for trout and other gamefish on the Cedar River in King County.
· Adopted permanent regulations banning retention of canary rockfish and prohibited spearfishing for any species of rockfish.
· Set new daily hours (9 .m. to 1 p.m. on days open to shrimp fishing) for designated Puget Sound shrimp districts such as Port Angeles Harbor and Discovery bay. It also extended the Port Townsend Shrimp District north of the Port Townsend ship canal to include Kilisut Harbor.
· Extended the Octopus Hole Conservation Area in Hood Canal to include the adjacent tidelands.
· Set new hours for harvesting clams and oysters on a number of beaches and set new bag limits and seasons for rivers and lakes throughout the state.
These and other measures adopted by the commission will appear in WDFW's 2004-05 Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet.
I think some tears will be shed by the night's end...
I think I need to go enjoy a couple Mack & Jack's in honor of what transpired today.
Savor the victory boys. Now let's make it permanent!
that cohiba I have been saving is gonna taste mighty sweet tonight:cool:
And like Leland says lets make it permanent!
Gytenbeek and the WSC Suck!!!
This is the most biased and idiotic decision the commission has ever made.
It is resource allocation based upon political favoritism and has no basis in conservation reality. There is nothing to indicate that over harvest has caused the current declines of the inland steelhead stocks. Those rivers where no harvest and in some cases no fishing is allowed have equally reflected the current steelhead cycles.
The coastal stocks have been showing a trend towards increasing numbers despite somewhat extreme harvest pressure.
They have lied and blindsided us with their public statement that the total ban on steelhead harvest would not be considered this rule cycle.
Washington and Idaho are now the only two places in the Pacific Northwest with a total prohibition on wild steelhead harvest including stocks with adult returns as much as twice that required for spawning escapement.
Thanks to the scumbags in the Wild Steelhead Coalition I will never again purchase another fishing license in this state!
I'm outa here - Plunk
I rather like this ruling and I raise my glass in a toast to the members of the WSC as well as the members of the commission that voted for this measure.
It is about time. something I staarted doing as a college kid in the 60's. only took our brilliant leaders 40 yrs to realize.My thanks to everyone involved!!!! Beau
Congratulations to the WSC who by the way is not some elite political force but it's you and it's me, and it's America - a country forged by it's people. And in America we look after our national treasures, and by God the steelhead is such a treasure - not meat.
To my dear friends and former neighbors in the pacific northwest if there is one thing that I have been enlightened to since my move to the birthplace of our nation - that is our incredible history since the pilgrims fled from religious persecution and landed not far from where I live. And one town over, an admiral built a wooden ship 40 years before Lewis and Clark and sailed around Cape Horn and up the pacific coast to discover a river which he named after his boat, the SS Columbia. It's all about individuals who hold strong convictions despite the odds and opposition, despite old thinking with deeply buried roots in incumbent positions, to believe in the face of non-believers, and to in their own way change the world.
For a steelhead angler, or any true sportsman this is no less of a day than any that history can compare. For the first time in our history we've have acted to turn the tide on the damage we've done for centuries against this national treasure, the wild Washington state steelhead.
In recent years striped bass along the east coast were gravely endangered and a rare sight for recreational and commercial anglers in the 80's. Such a moratorium was put in place and the stocks rebounded to healthy levels, it was a complete success. The vigil is held by groups like the Coastal Conservation Association and countless others today to make sure we do not fall back into the abyss. Two years may not be enough to solve the problem but it will provide enough feedback to extend the study to a full life cycle, which I believe is critical to measuring it's success for the statistical types who are the majority in these things. My one comment would be why two years and not life-cycle? Number of years is a human decision, this can not be measured in human terms. The study should be implemented and measured in terms of the steelhead's life cycle.
In any case - Ryan, the officers of the WSC and my friends in the fraternity of the steelhead... it's a good thing I can type this out, because I sure can't talk with this lump choking my throat.
The fish in the logo I designed swims upon an infinity symbol. That's not just graphics, that is a deeply rooted dream of mine as a dedicated Washington steelhead angler. I am proud to be a small part of this and to those who carried this out I am indebted to you for having fulfilled a huge step forward toward this dream we share.
Thanks are owed
I want everyone to take a moment and thank Rich Simms, Jack Berryman, Dick Burge, Jeff Johnson and the rest of the WSC BOD. They would not keep quiet on this issue when many people, myself included, were advising them to let the fight rest and focus on other issues. They kept fighting and fighting and fighting. This victory is for thye fish but the people mentioned above are to thank.
Way to go guys!
And Plunk, don't let the door...
Way to go guys.
Fish politics are passionate, hard to deal with and very frustrating. That you stuck with it and realized this success is an inspiration to all of us involved in this fight. Congratulations and keep up the good work - there is more to be done.
Steelhead Society of B.C., Director.
...and also thanks to
Sparkey. Didn't he lead the petitioning for the wild fish handling changes?
Great news !
Making Wild Steelhead Release Work
The stars must have aligned for this one.
We now have mandatory statewide wild steelhead release and also a way through "Streamwatch at Eyes in the Woods" at: eyesinthewoods.org to help with enforcement. If you are serious about your love for this precious resource, now is the time to commit. So far these discussions on this and other boards amount to "preaching to the choir." The release of wild steelhead needs to be forced onto the masses. It doesn't do us any good to pass rules and laws without the means to enforce them. So get with your fishing clubs (I know I will with my club) and learn to report and prosecute poachers. If you don't belong to an organized club, I'm sure Eyes in Woods would accept members of this group as an organization.
We won, now let's make sure it works.
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