PSA has been the largest
and sometimes one of the only fishery savers in the State. We have many
accomplishments that we have not been afraid to cross those lines and
establish relationships to learn the truth of what happens in our fisheries
and why. Nothing is ever black and white as it appears.
At times the waters get
murky because the average person doesn’t understand why we are doing what
we are doing. So many times it is a work in progress and cannot be
announced as it would have serious ramifications to our issues. Many have
trusted us to get things done and others just don’t know.
that most have no idea that PSA drove the train to keep you fishing. These
were intense battles that took a lot of time, building information and
Overturned the WDFW
Commission decision years ago to shut down bottomfishing in Neah Bay.
Skewed science was used by one commissioner and a Wild Fish Group. PSA
proved this wrong to the commission and got it reopened before the
season. Most did not know it ever was closed. We worked with others
that we would have never met. One banker in Aberdeen was a crucial
part of bring the Makahs in with us to disprove their intentions
calling out mistruths by that certain WDFW Commissioner. PSA had
implemented a Rockfish Descender Program that was saving Yelloweye and
Canary Rockfish, as well as other bycatch rockfish, that were a large
part of influencing the closures.
Two years later the
same closure happened again. WDFW Commission voted the same to close
Neah Bay Bottomfishing. We had to take it on and overturn it. That
same commissioner and Wild Fish Group were behind it. Once more, PSA
commissioner went into the saltwater rules and started working on
closing down many fisheries. Puget Sound bottomfish were at stake too.
Cabezon was targeted as one as well as the giant octopus. As a result
of his actions, our Senator Pearson, that chaired Senate Natural
Resources removed him due to his actions. The good senator had to
convince the Governor to do so, against his will. I got a lot of
opposition for supporting this from the other sports groups about
removing him as Senator Pearson was my Senator. They said he votes
“our way.” I said our way? The guy has made my life a holy hell for
years with unjustified fishery closures! He is the reason I became
president of PSA State. To stop his junk science fishing closures.
PS Yelloweye and
Canary fishing closures came to Puget Sound via NOAA. The ESA listing
was going to shut down 50% of all structure to all fishing from the
Victoria Sill or Port Angeles east. That includes East Strait of Juan
de Fuca, Admiralty Inlet, San Juans, Hood Canal, North, Central, and
South Puget Sound. That means your chinook fisheries were going to be
shut down. At least 50% were. Think if they closed Possession Bar to
all fishing or half of the San Juans? Structure is where our Chinook
reside. PSA jumped on this right from the start and started building
relationships with NOAA and other officials to help guide this
program. Other groups said they were not going to get involved and
helped them close the Puget Sound. We knew these closures were coming
and if we did not become part of it we would lose. If you are not at
the table you are on the table! PSA started an Education, Fisheries,
and Conservation Chapter to deal with this. We secured grants and were
able to purchase those Seaqualizer Rockfish Descenders to give away to
sportfishers helping save Puget Sound rockfish and fishing. For you to
buy those they were $60 each. NOAA, Pacific States Fishery Marine
Fisheries Commission, and WDFW were the main grant funders.
Fishing Closures due
to the Orcas. PSA has been working with ocean sport groups,
commercials, and reached out to our tribes to protect fishing. We knew
that fishing was the low hanging fruit and we were going to be
targeted for the orca. I put my hat in the ring to be on the Orca Task
Force to prove that we were not the problem. The Orca was proving us
right. We have been telling everyone for years that curtailing
hatchery production was not the fix. Since 1992 up to 2016 (even
further cutes after 2016), we cut Chinook and Hatchery production by
160 Million fish per year. This was supposed to fix our Salmon
problems. Instead it got much worse.
On the Orca Task
Force, I (Representative for Puget Sound Anglers) was the only Task
Force member in the end stopping the San Juan Island Chinook fishing
closure. This would have been for nontribal only. I used a letter from
the Puget Sound Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association with the Puget Sound
Anglers State Board position would not give into to Senator Rankers SJ
Island Closure. Had I given in, that closure would have been
instituted immediately. I went to our Orca Task Force Tribal members
and asked them for their help. Between those Tribal members, PSA, and
WDFW, we avoided the year-round closures.
has been influential in many, many fishery decisions that have kept you on
the water. This year we have very poor returns that we are living out now.
People want to blame NOF for poor fishing seasons this year. The biggest
problem is no
fish to split up. The Stilly and Snohomish system were some of the poorest
returns on record. About 15 years ago, we were having 14-15,000 returning
pairs of Chinook on the Snohomish System. This year it was between 650-800
pairs depending on whose figures you used. This is for the Snohomish,
Skykomish, and Snoqualmie rivers-TOTAL! Environmental Conditions are
changing. Of course it is true. The Puget Sound was carved by a glacier. It
started receding 15,000 years ago. This has been a continual melt all over
the world. Hatcheries are not the problem but the savior and we have to use
them to the fullest extent. We were successful at the Orca Task Force in
securing 26.7 Million more salmon on behalf of the Orcas and us. We are
moving on to the Pinniped and bird issue eating our salmon and steelhead.
The Columbia River needs more hatchery production too. Per NOAA’s Jeremy
Jording in a round table meeting, explained that on the Columbia River,
Hook and Line angling is not sufficient enough to catch the required amount
of hatchery fish to keep from shutting down hatchery production. This is
called pHOS. Proportion (or percentage) of hatchery fish on the spawning
grounds. This decides how many fish can be released from hatcheries. We can
make as many fish as we want as long as we can catch them. Commercial
fishing is the tool in the tool box that we use to catch those fish. Too
many are not willing to open up their minds to rebuild our fisheries and
would rather watch us all quit fishing than to allow commercials to be part
of the solution. We trade salmon all of the time n the ocean to keep our
sport fisheries open. The Boldt Decision keeps on coming up about us
catching 50% of the fish. Because of ESA and the way we have rearranged the
fisheries in the Puget Sound we cannot catch our required fish. ESA and
HSRG has changed that management. Under todays world the only way to catch
our 50% would be to open up commercial fishing in terminal areas. Non
tribal gill netting on Chinook and Coho has been removed from the Puget
sound except for a small Bellingham Bay Chinook fishery where there are no
ESA concerns. PSA has worked with three northern tribes for over 4 years.
The Tulalip, Lummi, and Upper Skagit to fix our fisheries. We built a
coalition as we all want the same thing as everyone else. More fish for
all. Using the Boldt Decision on ESA is like playing chess with a checker
playbook. Time to relook at fixing our fisheries in a new light so we can
get back to fishing. It appears that ocean conditions are getting better.
That is a huge factor in fish returns.
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.
Halibut Fishery in Jeopardy
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
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
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
You Can Help
If you are participating in the recreational halibut
or bottomfish fishery, please avoid areas that are known to have
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