Here we are in the beginning of the year and it is going by pretty quickly. Many of us are beyond swamped with our day jobs. We have so many issues to deal with San Juan Island NO Go Zone is back on the table for at least the 3rd time. What is not being told is that seals are eating the chinook to the point that they are endangering our resident orca populations. The Puget Sound can only hold about 7,000-8,000 according to a 1990s study. We now have over 20,000 of them. There was a steelhead study done where they tagged released steelhead out of 5 rivers. Between 8 and 9 of every 10 of those tags showed up in seal scat. Johnstone Strait in Canada, northeast side of Vancouver Island had a study published in the Vancouver Sun saying that they had 40,000 harbor seals in that area. Those seals were eating 55% of their coho and 45% of their chinook. But yet our fishing boats have and are being portrayed as the problem. Even though salmon are not part of the harbor seal diet, by the amount of the seals, are taking a toll on our salmon and steelhead populations. Most of those orcas have never seen a world without fishing boats.
Please comment on this link that we are not the problem. If you have spent anytime up there on the West side of San Juan Island, there is a chance you have had Orcas chase salmon up against your boat to catch them. Go to youtube.com and watch orcas come up chasing a small boat. This is reality. Over the years I have had orcas come up to me and check us out in my boat. You tube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aj2U_kdNIe4
By the time you read this, North of Falcon Salmon forecasts will be out (Feb 28) to let us know what we have to deal with to shape our fisheries. The last couple of years have been very tough. We are fighting over the last fish instead of making more fish. PSAs goal is to work with all users to make the pie bigger or it will never recover. Our message to the tribes and others is that if we have no opportunity to fish, our licenses/license fee increase puts WDFW at risk. Many have stated they will not be buying licenses this year. Some legislatures is making it very clear that if we do not have some wins with our fisheries and some real opportunity that WDFW is not going to get their fee increase. Additional issues get put on WDFWs back for them to come up with additional funding. This is just to stay current with what WDFW, they would require 24 Million dollars to maintain their current level.
Now I ask you this question and I want you to think very hard about our salmon fisheries situation. Are we better off today than we were 10-15 years ago? The way we are managing our fisheries now is to make less and less fish with a declining habitat, pollution, urban sprawl, out of control predators. The bottom line is that hatcheries were installed to offset habitat degradation, dams installed, clearcut forests, rivers cleaned up, and a myriad of many other problems. Now the lawsuits against our fisheries are happening blaming this as the cause instead of the effect. Shrinking fishieries are nto going to stop until we change our outlook and manage them differently. Yes wild fish are important, but just think about the study above showing that seals are eating the fish as soon as they come out of the rivers. With less fish coming out the wild fish are exposed causing a larger decline in our wild fish stocks.
Working together with all users groups is where we are going to have to go, to rebuild our fisheries. We have way to many problems out there and we need to be at the table to make a change for the better. Join a PSA Chapter near you.
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