The Puget Sound Early Winter Steelhead Hatchery program was saved! Wild Fish Conservancy would have successfully shut down this program through litigation. PSA was very pleased to coordinate our efforts to secure federal approval of the early winter hatchery programs with northern Puget Sound tribes, the Steelhead Trout Club, the Coastal Conservation Association and many other groups concerned about retaining harvest fisheries in the Puget Sound region. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, under the leadership of Jim Scott, special assistant to Director Jim Unsworth worked well with all interested parties to satisfy the federal requirements for continuing these hatchery programs. Recognition must also be given to Senator Kirk Pearson for securing a letter of support from the Washington Senate that was instrumental in the process. A special thanks to Frank Urabeck who is a member of PSA, STC and CCA, Frank volunteered to lead the coordinated efforts of the three organizations in our working with WDFW, the tribes and others.
NOAA's Rob Jones in charge of this program did hear us and expedited the program to make sure that this paperwork was completed in time for the fish to be released. On April 15, 2016, NOAA Fisheries issued its final determinations authoriing the release of early winter steelhead from five Puget Sound hatchery programs in the Dungeness, Nooksack, Stillaguamish, Skykomish, and Snoqualmie River watersheds. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced that it had begun releasing over 500,000 juvenile steelhead from Puget Sound hatcheries on April 19, in the Wallace Creek, Reiter Ponds, Whitehorse, Kendall Creek, and Tokul Creek Hatcheries. The Dungeness Hatchery are also permitted, but those releases are being delayed until May due to run timing. A very special thanks to Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray for understanding that this was not just about Steelhead but the pathway to close all hatcheries.
Thanks to all of you that wrote letters and helped in this campaign. When we stand together we can do just about anything.
From Pat Pattillo-lead for our sportsman groups:
The Recreational Fishing Community stands in strong support of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s announcement yesterday to seek federal approval for Puget Sound salmon fishing independent of the Northwest Treaty Tribes.
WDFW recognized the potential for failure of the annual salmon fishery agreement process with the tribes, having experienced very difficult negotiations in 2015. To avert such an outcome in 2016 WDFW From the very beginning of the 2016 negotiation process, WDFW engaged in good faith with the co-managing tribes to reach agreement on very difficult conservation challenges for Puget Sound coho and chinook salmon. The Recreational Fishing Community applauds the integrity of the WDFW negotiators led by Director Jim Unsworth through the scheduled North of Falcon process and into the recent extraordinary session. Despite this effort by WDFW, and despite apparent agreement with many of the Puget Sound Tribes, the negotiation process has fallen short of the intended and important co-management outcome.
Absent agreement on salmon fisheries between the Tribes and WDFW, NOAA Fisheries has warned that processing of federal permits for these fisheries required by the Endangered Species Act would be delayed and could possibly preempt fishing for this season entirely. The Recreational Fishing Community urges NOAA Fisheries to expedite the ESA approval process to minimize potential loss of fishing opportunity for the state’s citizens as well as for the tribes.
As participants in this year’s salmon season setting process, we are convinced that this unfortunate circumstance could have been avoided if tribal negotiators had adhered to the fundamental principles of co-management that have led the tribes and WDFW to annual fishing agreements until this year. Among those principles is the importance of understanding the fishery needs of each party and of respecting the right of the tribes and WDFW to conduct their respective fisheries independent of unnecessary oversight by the other party. Throughout this spring’s negotiations the tribes’ attention was inappropriately focused on the state’s preferred approach to regulating the non-Indian sport fisheries that featured releasing hook-and-line caught weak salmon stocks. Insufficient time was focused on identifying and agreeing on solutions to the salmon conservation issues at hand – problems that clearly were environmentally caused and not the result of over-fishing. This failure of the 32 year-old North of Falcon negotiation process requires serious correction if the tribes and WDFW are to avoid a repeat of the 2016 debacle.
If enjoy Puget Sound and Snohomish River Coho fishing or enjoy helping enhance
recreational opportunities please read on!
I'm Kelli Mack from the Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club. We took over a
private salmon hatchery back in 2009 and got it back into operational condition.
To date we have raised and released over 240,000 Coho into the Snohomish River
system and currently have 88,000 more on hand to release next spring.
The eyed-eggs we receive are surplus hatchery fish, which if not kept local,
would be sent away to distant fisheries. We keep these fish in their home river
system, enriching our catching opportunities.
Although it's functional the hatchery is in need upgrades to ensure the safety
of eggs, fry, and smolt as we nurture them along their life-cycle.
Please help by making a tax deductible contribution to the campaign Snohomish &
Puget Sound Coho Fishing Enhancement going on now on Indiegogo here: Coho
Hatchery Fundraiser Link
Coho fishing in 2013 was almost 8 times better than in 2010 according to a
comparison of creel checks at the Everett Public Ramp.
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