I have to say that writing these presidents messages monthly has been very challenging lately. It feels like doom and gloom as we have nothing to say but loss of fisheries to report.
Frank Urabeck and I have been working on a number of fisheries issues trying to fix them for us. It is very challenging as we have to know all of the facts before moving forward. Moving forward with inaccurate information can be detrimental to our credibility and could do more harm than good. We have had some major victories such as the PS early winter steelhead which was an attack on all hatcheries. The one we are working on now is the Skokomish River fishery.
Frank and I had a meeting last night 9/20 with WDFW Director Jim Unsworth, Fish Program Manager Ron Warren, Annette Hoffman Special Assistant, and Mike Grossman with the State Attorney Generals office. This was a follow up meeting with WDFW after our Skokomish Rally and our two letters to WDFW Director, Skokomish Tribal Chair Guy Miller, and Will Stelle from NOAA, encouraging them to get together to work on opening the river for recreational fishing for 2017.
We were not sure how this meeting would go. We had no feedback on what had happened if anything. To our surprise the department and all had been working intently on this since the closure started. We kept pressure on all parties to come together. What we found out is this one fishery has implications in many areas that were way beyond what we had thought was black and white. I can tell you that the amount of scenarios that could play out was far above anyone could have imagined, including great danger to other fisheries. WDFW and the Attorney General Lawyer confidentially told us explicitly what could happen in many different ways that could play out. We assured them that we would not share some of this information with anyone to help the case going forward. The state believes they own half of the river and the tribes believe they own the entire river.
In the end Director Unsworth told us that he had been able to talk to Skokomish Chair Guy Miller. They had a phone conversation and are in the process of coming together to discuss what can be done to open the fishery for 2017. There are no promises that they can come to an agreement but they are talking which is a good thing. After the meeting I can assure you that WDFW is working very hard to get this fishery opened up. I would like to thank everyone for sending their letters in to all three parties and helping us keep the momentum going in the right direction.
We had no communication with WDFW and had no idea how hard they were working to get this fishery fixed. They were a little taken back that recreationals don't think they are working hard for us. We will have some sort of letter coming out explaining about this fishery when we figure out hope much we can tell. Thanks to all that attended the rally and wrote letters. It is greatly appreciated.
But in the mean time we are still not coho fishing while tribal fishing still continuing. This is truly broken and something that has to be changed. We agreed to no coho fishing and that agreement is not what is happening.
Join your local PSA Chapter and support them. We are all in this together.
We are having troubles coming to terms over the WDFW
fee increase. At this time there is no agreement
between our recreational fishing groups and WDFW. If
they do not come up with some sort of funding, this
will hurt our fisheries in the near and long term.
General Funds are constantly being removed from WDFW
Funding so primarily Recreational License fees are
now carrying a huge portion of our state fisheries
funding. These severe cuts will probably occur to
our hatcheries if they are not additionally funded.
The funds from the commercial fishing industry are
going into the general funds.General funds are being
removed from funding WDFW, so these commercial
dollars should be rerouted straight back into WDFW,
to help manage our fisheries and pulled from general
funds. Our hatchery systems support $9 Billion
Coastal and $2 Billion Strait/Puget Sound.
I do not understand why general funds are not put
into WDFW, instead of cut. Washington State has an
obligation through its treaty with the tribes to
keep them supplied with fish and game. Now that our
license fees pay for much of the hatchery fish. A
very large portion of those fish are harvested by
the tribes. Our recreational license dollars are
raising fish for the tribes? Ludicrous. Washington
state has a treaty with the tribes to keep them in
game and fish. WDFW is not mandated to raise fish
for the tribes. But we are directly doing it now.
Why are the recreational fishers of Washington state
being forced to pay for the fish that the tribes
catch? Where is there any incentive for us to keep
paying for these fish when we are not allowed to
catch them? This worries me to what the outcome
WDFW funding is a game changer. The state needs to
pony up and pay for the tribal treaty right share
and not the recreational license holders, as we do
not have much opportunity left. In North Of Falcon
negotiations, the tribes have forced "in season
management' on us, not NOAA. This means that WDFW
test fishing boats go in when catchable (larger
schools of fish) salmon show up where the fishing is
good. Within 3-4 days of good catching, the test
boats show impacts on our undersized fish and we get
shut down. So we can fish when fishing is bad and as
soon as it gets good, we lose that fishery for the
season. This is something that occured at NOF a few
years ago to get a NOF Puget Sound agreement and the
tribes have made us hold up to it ever since. The
tribes do not use in season management themselves.
We are all going to have to work together to keep
fishing but other funds have to support WDFW.
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