The Native Fish Society under attack

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by GAT, Jun 23, 2013.

  1. Mel, exactly. That's what I meant by saying the best fisheries in the world are composed of wild fish and not hatchery jobs.

    I wish we could count on the ESA protecting the wild fish but I don't think that will go on forever or cover all the species and rivers that it should.

    Plus, when you dump in the hatchery fish for the harvest folks, you open the door for those anglers catching wild salmon/steelhead and electing to either go ahead and kill the wild fish and take their chances, or treat the fish so rough because they are mad they can't keep it, the wild fish dies anyway.

    I've overheard harvest guys at work and they resent it when they catch a wild steelhead and must release it. It pisses them off.

    So not only do I believe the hatchery steelhead have a negative impact on the reproduction of wild steelhead, I believe that when you mix the two in the same river the harvest anglers may end up killing the wild steelhead one way or the other.
    Jim Wallace and Bill Aubrey like this.
  2. One could have both by doing something similar to how BC raises trout, in particular the Pennask Lake trout. BC goes to Pennask Lake to gather eggs, raises them in a hatchery and later releases the trout. As I see it they are basically wild trout. Next year they go back to Pennask, net trout and start out again.
  3. Richard, I wish I could agree with you, but the ESA has been under very serious attack for years and was greatly restricted by political appointees in the Bush Administration. Remember, the ESA covers ALL species which are listed, and that includes bugs, snakes, toads, salamanders, and hey, if you think those don't get much love, how about wolves? Go back and read some of the recent threads on them on this site and you'll start to see that the ESA doesn't necessarily get a lot of love. And, it damn well should!
  4. budget cuts will have far more impact than esa listings, imo. when the general, non-fishing public is asked to decide whether to have cops, teachers, and firefighters or pay for a bloated, ineffective hatchery system and commercial fishing welfare, i think they'll choose services they use and want.
  5. Good point. The price we pay for fishing licenses and tags does not really cover all the costs associated with expensive hatchery programs. General tax dollars are required to keep the hatcheries up and running.

    Still, for members of iFish to encourage a boycott of those donating to an organization dedicated to saving wild fish is quite telling for a large segment of the fishing population who must value hatchery fish over wild fish. For me, that is beyond comprehension.
    Bill Aubrey likes this.
  6. I think my mind touched the void when I read that thread on iFish.

    I've been delaying becoming an NFS member for too long and for no good reason. I've been to a handful of gatherings thanks to the dedicated gentlemen at The Confluence Fly Shop in B'ham, and I've met several very sincere, intelligent, and driven people from NFS. Each time it has been an absolute pleasure. I've got the bumper sticker, now time to get out the checkbook. I hope a few more will do the same.
    Steve Call, Bill Aubrey, GAT and 5 others like this.
  7. Let's talk about streams....lakes are a different matter. I think that if an angler was told the cost of a hatchery fish retained by an angler , he would scream..."stop the madness"! These fish aren't raised for anglers, they are raised for the commercial fleet. The commercial guys must get a giggle, watching the HUGE number of anglers cut each other to threads supporting the few commercial people that profit from hatcheries. The politicians that promised to manage the fishery for the highest dollar return for the state are giggling too, we keep electing the idiots managing the fishery for the least dollar return.
  8. It is very true that the subject brings up very strong and antagonistic voices. However, I think surveys over the years have found that the general public supports the ESA pretty strongly. That doesn't deny that it has been a rallying point for a minority of very conservative 'property rights' advocates.

  9. I have no problem with the game departments dumping hatchery fish into lakes that are not self sustaining with wild fish. The rivers that once held large populations of wild salmon/steelhead/trout are a different story.
    Bill Aubrey and Derek Young like this.
  10. Thanks you guys for supporting NFS. I am a member as well as the steward for the Skagit along with kjsteelhead. Chris Johnson got us interested when he took on the stewardship for the Nooksack.

    Since that time, I have gotten to know Bill McMillan fairly well. The following information was provided by Bill.

    For Kendall Creek Hatchery on the Nooksack (data for 2001-2009):

    1) The worst hatchery steelhead year was 2009 with a cost of $2,485 per harvested hatchery steelhead
    2) The best hatchery steelhead year was 2001 with a cost of $89 per harvested hatchery steelhead
    3) The average cost per harvested hatchery steelhead for all nine years was $754

    From Marblemount Hatchery on the Skagit (data for 1999-2010):

    1) The worst hatchery steelhead year was 2003 with a cost of $942 per harvested hatchery steelhead
    2) The best hatchery steelhead year was 2002 with a cost of $148 per harvested hatchery steelhead
    3) The average cost per harvested hatchery steelhead for all 12 years was $488

    Safe Travels,
  11. HARVESTED: is that the total fish recorded on the catch record cards from sport anglers?

    Does 'harvested' include the fish from the commercial fleets?
    The numbers are staggering.....
  12. Those numbers ($/fish caught) are high for the Nook and Skagit, but are modest compared with the cost estimated a few years back for the cost of Snake river salmon/steelhead, if you include all of the mitigation costs that Bonneville and the states have expended. I think the figure I heard was something around $6000 per fish.
  13. Wow! The cost per hatchery fish is insane. I don't see how it's justifiable.
    constructeur and Jim Wallace like this.
  14. It sure does appear from the numbers that it isn't justifiable.

    For sure, salmon hatcheries are there for the commercials (I am including recreational charter boat fishing industry here, as I consider that to be "hybrid"). We individual boat and river bank recreational anglers get the scraps that make it through.

    I'm not so sure about steelhead hatcheries.
    I think that they exist for the economic benefit of the state of WA, so it can collect tax revenue from the recreational fishing industry, and keep that industry and the jobs it provides flourishing.
    So has anyone figured out a reasonable estimate of the average amount that each steelhead angler spends on each fish?
    Maybe its paying off! Ha! That is just a short-term illusion, if we end up wiping out wild fish.

    And then we keep hearing that hatcheries "provide opportunity for anglers to fish, when otherwise, we would see rivers closed to fishing."
    At this point in time, there wouldn't be any recreational Chinook fishery at all in Willapa Bay if it weren't for the salmon hatcheries there. Habitat destruction from poor logging practices, years of pollution (sulfer dioxide and other chemicals) from the the pulp mills (I thank the oyster growers for suing to stop them and get them out!!!), and, of course, over fishing, did the most damage there.
    Early settlers logged the old growth from the watershed, and diked the marshes and cleared the valleys for agriculture.

    So now I'm not so sure that getting rid of the Chinook hatcheries in Willapa Bay would be a good idea, since that would put an end to my favorite salmon fishing here (I admit that I'm a selfish bastige!) but I'm all for keeping hatchery steelhead out of any rivers that still have wild runs that would benefit from removal of hatchery fish. Wouldn't that be most, or even all of our steelhead streams?
  15. As far as salmon hatcheries in Willapa Bay, I understand that hatchery Chinook are no longer released from the Naselle salmon hatchery so as to give the wild Chinook in that river a chance to thrive and make a come-back. Also, I used to hear rumors that the facility there was in sore need of upgrading. In addition to many other problems, I'd heard that the "intake" setup for returning hatchery Chinook was less than ideal there.

    In regards to salmon, now Naselle just releases Coho (if my info is correct...note: I edited this to replace "produced" with "released" as after reading thru old info published in 2004 on the WDFW site. The changes I mention were made after 2004, and I haven't found any info published anywhere on what actions were actually implemented. I was told about these changes by other local anglers I know. And in fishing these rivers, I haven't seen any hatchery Coho in the Nemah in 2 or 3 years).
    Hatchery Chinook are released from the Forks Creek hatchery on the Willapa River, and at the N Nemah River hatchery. The N Nemah hatchery no longer produces or releases Coho. I understand that the N Nemah does not have suitable wild Chinook spawning habitat, and so releasing hatchery Chinook smolts there probably isn't hurting anything.
    Correction: NOT all the hatchery chinook produced in Willapa Bay salmon hatcheries originated from wild Willapa Bay fish, and some stock had been imported from elsewhere, including other watersheds in SW WA and even from OR. I think that was some time ago, and is no longer the case.

    Up until just a few years ago, none of the hatchery Kings released into Willapa Bay tribs were fin-clipped, and we anglers kept any Chinook of legal size until we had our limits or the bite stopped. WDFW management had no clue as to the mix of wild and hatchery stocks in Willapa Bay tribs. Fortunately, they made some changes. I'm glad that I now have to check for a clipped fin.

    So, most of the wild stocks in Willapa Bay had been co-mingled with hatchery fish for many years before hatchery reform was in the works.

    The steelhead hatchery program here is more difficult to get a grip on, since it seems like they used to (maybe still do?) release a lot of hatchery smolts into various streams here that have no collection facility for returning adults. Lots of hatchery fish "made escapement." Did they spawn successfully with wild fish?

    Mature wild Willapa Coastal Cutthroat that "volunteer" their way into the local salmon hatcheries have been collected and released into some small tribs in the Willapa Wildlife Refuge in an attempt to restore runs that had been wiped out by diking off some creeks there in years past. Dikes have been removed, habitat restored, Cutthroat adults released in the creeks near spawning time...but did they stick around and spawn? Or move elsewhere to do it? I think that maybe the cutthroat will make a comeback there anyway, now that the creeks have been restored somewhat.
  16. We should use this money to just buy out the commercial fleet and retrain them for other careers.
  17. The harvested hatchery steelhead number was acquired from WDFW catch record cards and Skagit River System Cooperative Tribes reporting.

    Bill tells me these numbers are likely conservative and probably don't include major hatchery update construction costs nor employee benefits/retirement programs. The cost of said hatchery fish does include annual feed costs, annual hatchery operations and repairs as well as personnel costs.
  18. It is my understanding that this is a very real concern for us recreational anglers. Close the hatchery and we may be done.

    The Occupy Skagit effort does serve to bring to light that in over escaped years, such as this one, the Skagit/Sauk watershed could potentially tolerate a CnR fishery for our native winter steelhead.

    It is my opinion that other watersheds could as well if it were to be implemented in a wise manner (is that an oxymoron in Washington...likely). This would also likely serve our Olympic Peninsula steelhead well if pressure was spread throughout additional watersheds.

    My primary concern is that some fishing techniques are highly effective and you may potentially see a higher mortality rate than that 3.6 - 5% number. I had a good season; but, I have a friend who is a gear angler that caught in one day what it took me/clients to do in all of December and January swinging flies. Sorry...digression.
  19. Now don't get me wrong this is not a "support" of hatchery fish or some of the programs. I also find many of the eco-fish groups to be very ridged and will not find a level of compromise. In some systems if the hatchery program is ended, so will the fishing on that system. We here is PS see that every February 1st and to my knowledge there is not a river in the state that reopened because the wild fish abundance came back to levels to support a wild catch and release fishery - lets hope the Skagit is the first.
    A summer fishery that many enjoy is the Wenatchee - that river only opens because the state and fed want anglers to get the hatchery fish out - not because they think a wild CnR fishery on that system is a opportunity for anglers.

    So does Bill include in his reporting the 'benefits" to a hatchery program , ie, fishing opportunity, the money spent in the community on gear, gas, boats, lunches, overnight stay, guides - things of that nature.
    Personally I would love to see the Steelhead hatchery on the Skagit end - today. But don't support the hatchery programs ending on systems like the Cowlitz or other systems that are too far gone

    GAT and Mel - didn't they introduce the "hatchery" rainbow trout to the Henry's fork in the late 1800's and early 1900's - isn't that a non-native hatchery fish that just is able to spawn in that ecosystem, but now is considered wild - what has the introduction of the rainbow to the H-fork done to the only native fish in that system the Yellowstone Cutthroat. How would that area react if a eco fish organization asked the state and fed to kill off the rainbow (harvest) or stop fishing until the Yellowstone Cutthroat reestablished it self back to the entire system of the H-Fork.

    I look at this stuff in a few different ways - the NFS could modify its stance on a few items, to take the heat off. They could tell the gear guys/public to go Eff themselves and continue what they think is the right direction and except the PR costs. The state could do a much bette job of managing the hatchery programs - like they have done here on the Skagit - for a few years now the state doesn't take fish into the hatchery after January - that stops "some" of interaction of wild spring fish and the Chamber Creek strain. It will all come down to persuasion and capturing the harts and minds of the public and public officials - the more folks you have on your side the better. Or as SG stated the Fed can come in a and tell everyone to go Eff themselves and shove a plan down the fisherman's, state and our eco-fish groups throat - that no one will like.
    Andrew Lawrence likes this.
  20. Easy to say, but most of the commercial guys I know like what they are doing and don't want to be "retrained." They consider commercial fishing to be their "lifestyle." Convincing them to give up their chosen careers/lifestyles isn't going to be easy, and somehow "forcing" them to do so is likely to result in a backlash. Commercial fishing is what many of them have been doing all their lives, and to suggest that a person who likes what he or she is doing get him/herself "retrained" later in life (for many, at an age of over 50 or 55) when their entire life has been invested in their current career is absurd. Nobody wants to start a new career late in life.
    I'm all for it, but good luck gettin' 'er done! I know several commercial fishers who dropped out of high school because they were already making good money fishing, and never looked back.
    A kid I know dropped out and grossed over $13,000 in less than 7 weeks of Dungeness Crab fishing! Tell him to quit and go get some training. They see the big $$ being made by other successful fishers, are attracted by the lifestyle (since many of them already come from fishing families), and don't want a 9-5 job with a miserable paycheck.
    Most of 'em probably couldn't afford college tuition if they quit fishing, anyway, and we all know that education loans saddle graduates with heavy debt. The dream for many of them is to eventually own and captain their own boat, and they can finance their payments with their fishing.
    And I dare say that not a few of them are misfits that would not do well in corporate environs, but do flourish while joyously engaged in teamwork, out on a bucking deck on a rolling sea.
    It may not be impossible to convince commercial fishers to give up their lifestyles and careers, but I'm just trying to give you an idea of who you're dealing with.

    We do need to get 'em to give up the gill nets and find a better method. I suspect that if gill nets were taken out of the equation, then we wouldn't need hatcheries, except in some places where natural spawning/rearing habitat has been destroyed, and infrastructure precludes it from being restored.

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