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Old 01-17-2007, 11:36 AM
Todd Ripley Todd Ripley is offline
Token Gear Guy
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 139
I'm sensing a little disconnect here between what might be going on, and what people think might be going on.

I learned early on in my advocacy career that commercial fishermen, be they tribal or non-tribal, don't do it just for the pile of fish in the bins at the end of the day...they actually like to go out fishing, but use a different tool than the rest of us...typically a gillnet. That's why buyouts aren't easy to implement, and why community commercial efforts such as fish wheels and fish traps aren't likely to gain wide acceptance in the commercial industry until they are forced to use them.

For every person who suggests that the commercial guys just take their catch out of the hatchery excess at the fish ladders and hatchery raceways, a worthwhile suggestion would be that those sport anglers go up to the hatchery and get their fish that way, too..."But I want to catch mine on a rod and reel!"...they're right if that's their response, but it's the same response that the commercial guys will give you..."But I want to go out in my boat, set my net, and get mine that way!"...

Just something to keep in mind.

I'd love to see the further implementation of fish traps and wheels, and the use of purse seines in the still can harvest target fish and release non-target fish with very little or no incidental mortality...but I have a hard time convincing the commercial fishers themselves that it would be as satisfying for them.

This is also an inevitable result of large scale hatchery programs...a bunch of sportfishers were very gung-ho about broodstock programs on the Chehalis system to produce large numbers of "mostly wild" steelhead, with clipped fins, to go out and fish for in March and April.

I warned that that this will have some unintended consequences that they will be very, very unhappy with if it is as successful as they hope, but that warning fell on deaf ears...

After a few years the broodstock programs were returning pretty good numbers of high quality broodstock hatchery fish...good numbers, bigger and more aggressive fish, and the return was spread out over a few months rather than the usual hatchery runts that all return within about 60 hours of each other.

Along comes the Quinault Tribe, who has fishing rights there, and they want access to those fish now, in go the nets later and later in the year, and for longer fishing periods...and not only are the broodstock hatchery fish being harvested, but so are the true wild fish in the system, along with the very special run of late winter coho in the Chehalis system.

My warning turns out to be reality, and the broodstock programs have been discontinued.

It's a fairly regular problem among sportfishermen...they have a good grasp on what they want, but a fairly poor grasp of what the consequences of getting what they want might be.

In this case, really big hatchery runs can provide some excellent fishing experiences, but big runs of fish attract more than just big numbers of sportfishermen spending money hand over fist to get at 'em...

Fish on...

Todd Ripley
VP Political Affairs
Wild Steelhead Coalition
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