Did you know that some yelloweye rockfish
that are here today were Washington residents before it became a
state in 1889? They have been and continue to be an important
part of our heritage.
Halibut and bottomfish fishing have also
been a part of Washington’s culture for hundreds of years. Many
generations of fishermen have relied on halibut and bottomfish
for food and recreation.
A recent stock assessment indicates that
the yelloweye rockfish population has declined over 80% from its
initial level. As a result, immediate action must be taken if
the stocks of these long-lived fish are to be rebuilt.
To rebuild yelloweye rockfish populations,
the harvest opportunities for this species must be severely
curtailed. In recent years, the Pacific Fishery Management
Council has set yelloweye rockfish harvest levels for all
commercial, recreational, and tribal fisheries combined for
California, Oregon, and Washington of about 17 metric tons (mt).
This number includes yelloweye rockfish that are discarded at
The Washington recreational harvest target
is about 2.7 mt (fewer than 1,000 fish) in coastal waters. To
put this in perspective, in 2001, the Washington recreational
fishery harvested 15 mt.
Yelloweye rockfish, in general, are harvested during the
Washington recreational halibut fishery. If the yelloweye
rockfish catch is projected to exceed 2.7 mt, then Pacific ocean
waters adjacent to Washington outside 25 fathoms will be closed
to recreational bottomfish fishing (including halibut).
If yelloweye rockfish cannot be avoided when anglers are
targeting halibut, then we may have to close recreational
halibut fishing in the future to protect yelloweye rockfish.
Because the yelloweye rockfish stock may not be rebuilt for over
100 years, the problem of managing the yelloweye fishery will
continue through our lifetime; however, you have the ability to
help save the halibut fishery now and preserve the yelloweye
resource for the future.
Live to be 120 years old
Range extends from Mexico to Alaska
Found in deeper, rocky bottom areas
Slow growing,low productive species
Reddish-orange in color with bright yelloweye
Commonly called "red snapper"
Often spend their entire lifetime on one rockpile
How You Can Help
If you are participating in the recreational halibut or
bottomfish fishery, please avoid areas that are known to
have yelloweye rockfish.
If you do accidentally catch a yelloweye, please return
to the water s soon as possible.
Help spread the word to others about the severity of the
yelloweye rockfish depleted population and the possible
consequences of not avoiding yelloweye areas
If you do not know what areas may have yelloweye
rockfish, please consult a local resort, motel, or charter
office or other expert before fishing
Hope everyone is
having a great fishing and crabbing season. It
is great when you have productive trips with
Since PSA has gotten
involved deeply in politics we have done fairly
well in trying to guide our fisheries in the
right direction. Especially the last couple of
years when we have engaged with a lobbist. But
there are always other problems on the horizon.
As many of you might or might not know, PSA was
successful in overturning the bottomfish
closures in Neah Bay Pacific ocean. This charge
was led by the Wild Fish Conservancy that was
using their citizen based manufactured science.
Those of us that fish Neah Bay and understand
how to catch rockfish and Lingcod, know that you
use different gear to catch each of them and
even different areas. They used data that was
catch only and tailored it to try to say that
you had to catch/kill 35 rockfish to catch a
legal lingcod and catch/kill 22 rockfish to
catch a cabezon. These were called protected
rockfish only because you are not allowed to
keep them in the strait of Juan de Fuca MA4A.
Outside in the ocean you can keep them except
Yelloweye and Canary Rockfish.
In talking with the
captains of these boats that performed the WDFW
test fishery that the data was used from, said
they absolutely fished different and used gear
so as to target species. One said they cast to
the side and never let their gear get passed
halfway to the bottom so they would not get some
of those bottomfish and lingcod. This definitely
would cut down on Lingcod and Cabezon catch and
using small flies and jigs would also limit
lingcod catches. Many of you know that Lingcod
eat big meals and you will probably catch one on
a rockfish you just caught instead of a fly.
Now lets jump up to
todays problem. The Wild Fish Conservancy is
going after our hatcheries. These are what keep
our fisheries alive and without them our Chinook
Salmon and Steelhead will surely go away. WFC
filed suit against WDFW for allowing Hatchery
Steelhead to be released without the proper
Hatchery and Genetics Management Plan to be in
place on some of our river systems. 990,000
Steelhead smolts were to be released in various
rivers around the sound of the Chambers Creek
WDFW had turned in
the HGMPs to NOAA/NMFS in 2005 and in 2007 Puget
Sound Steelhead were ESA listed. None were ever
looked at or dealt with and sat on them. WDFW
was going to make new ones and were told by NOAA
that they were not going to look at them so no
new ones were made and turned in. So in the
interim nothing happened while these fish were
still being spawned and released. WDFW is the
lower hanging fruit so WFC suit them not to
release these smolts. WDFW went to the Attorney
Generals office and asked them about options and
were told the cheapest way out was to cut a deal
with WFC. So long story short, WDFW gave $45,000
fishing dollars to WFC for them not to sue for
2.5 years while they got the HGMPs together, and
were not allowed to release any of these smolts
into our river systems except the 180,000 in the
Skykomish. This is a million dollars worth of
fish that were produced and only 180,000
released into our rivers. Also the Skagit was
shut down to hatchery fish.
Since then the WFC
is suing WDFW to stop upgrading the Tokul Creek
Hatchery and another lawsuit on the Leavenworth
Hatchery against US Fish and Wildlife Service(FWS),
the United States Bureau of Reclamation (BOR),
and the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA)
for violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
associated with the Leavenworth National Fish
Hatchery. They believe that hatchery fish
are harming wild fish.
their stray theory but where we have two rivers
that have had no hatchery steelhead in them and
have had the wild run completely died off. The
Nisqually has not had hatchery steelhead in
about 20 years and the Cedar in about 10 years.
I believe that the Cedar might be considered
extinct now. When the wild fish get down to a
low level, hatchery fish help take the hit from
preditors such as seals, sea lions, and even
commorants and other birds that eat the fry
leaving the rivers. They have the ability to
finish picking off the last of these endangered
fish with no buffer of the hatchery fish.
We cannot allow
extreme environmentalist to set precendence sue
and stop our fisheries. These fish not being
released hurts our communities that will see an
instant negative economic effect. These areas
rely on fishing as one of their big income
generators. Fishermen will no longer be funding
local businesses and millions of dollars in
sales of licenses, gear, fuel and supplies will
I think the
real solution is to do broodstock programs and
use the fish out of their native streams to help
bring back those runs. These are things we need
to work on.
Right now WFC
is on its 3rd lawsuit since and
including the Steelhead lawsuit and probably no
stopping them insight. You can bet that Chinook
are on their list next. We need to get the HGMPs
passed by NOAA to stop these lawsuits. Our
fishing dollars cannot be ransomed off like
Salmon for Soldiers
will be September 13 and everyone should come
and honor our war heroes. Most chapters will be
supplying the boats for this event to take them
fishing. For more info go to
Lions Club Derby for the Blind will be the
following day, Sept 14, where we take blind
people fishing. Everett has been doing this for
longer than I have. I think this will be my 10th
year. PSA donates most of the boats and crew for
this wonderful event.
Come and learn how to fish from our skilled members
at a local chapter. We are the true conservationists
in Washington that work using common sense on our
fisheries. Join your local chapter today and be part
of the solution. We understand today’s problems and
are working together for a better tomorrow.