The Native Fish Society under attack

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

  1. Peyton00

    Peyton00 Active Member

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    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.....
     
  2. Richard Olmstead

    Richard Olmstead BigDog

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    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.
    D
     
  3. triploidjunkie

    triploidjunkie Active Member

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    Wow! The cost per hatchery fish is insane. I don't see how it's justifiable.
     
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  4. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide.

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    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?
     
  5. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide.

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    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.
     
  6. Lugan

    Lugan Joe Streamer

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    We should use this money to just buy out the commercial fleet and retrain them for other careers.
     
  7. hookedonthefly

    hookedonthefly Active Member

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    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.
     
  8. hookedonthefly

    hookedonthefly Active Member

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    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.
     
  9. Chris DeLeone

    Chris DeLeone Active Member

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    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.
     
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  10. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide.

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    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.
     
  11. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide.

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    We also convince our "co-managers" to do the same, and get them to go back to weirs and fish wheels.:rolleyes: From what I've heard, their hatchery mismanagement is worse than ours!
     
  12. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide.

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    One more off the wall comment before I give it up:

    I'd wager it would be much easier and much more well-received by those affected, if we tried to convince recreational fishing industry workers to find another career, rather than commercial fishers.

    I can more easily envision a cashier/clerk in a sporting goods store morphing into a keyboard monkey that spends his or her days imprisoned in a cubicle, than I can a commercial fisher doing the same.:D
     
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  13. gabe0430

    gabe0430 Banned or Parked

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    Everyone wants to fish so it seems to me that if there we NO hatchery fish it would put more strain on the wild fish and the populations would dwindle faster due to fishing. The hatchery fish increase the numbers hence but less strain on wild fish populations. Imagine how few fish we would have in lakes and rivers if we had no hatchery plants?

    Going to all wild fish is a nice rosy pipe dream that will never happen, the ship has sailed on this cause, we’d run out of fish in the rivers and lake in a short time. People like to fish and keep them a few and the Indians like to string their nets covering the width of the river and take them all regardless of the regulations the tribes agree too. We need the hatchery fish just to keep up with demand.

    Of course if you only C&R like I do, you are not dwindling any populations J
     
  14. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Jim

    You mention important points, but I think you're missing or ignoring the concept that society doesn't "owe" commercial fishermen a living - at commercial fishing or any other endeavor for that matter. If the cost of producing hatchery fish significantly exceeds their value to society or in society's marketplace, then society should logically discontinue funding those hatcheries, salmon or steelhead. Of course the natural environment can not make up the difference with wild fish because society has already made the group decision (unknowingly for many, probably most) to trade valuable productive fish habitat for other societal priorities like forestry, roads, RRs, agriculture, cities and other residential uses, and other land use trade-offs. The horse-drawn buggy makers and buggy whip makers were not subsidized or re-trained to other careers when the horseless carriage came along and displaced them and their careers. Life ain't fair, but some times people don't seem to want to say so. And it won't be fair when the commercial gillnetters are out of business because society decides it can no longer afford to subsidize them, but it will be just. Justice and fairness aren't the same thing. It presently is not fair that taxpayers fund hatcheries to support functionally obsolete commercial gillnet fishermen.

    If the salmon and steelhead hatchery systems go to funding based on user fees, I don't know if I will be able to afford a fishing license!

    Sg
     
  15. hookedonthefly

    hookedonthefly Active Member

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    Hi Chris,
    The NFS advocates for what they feel is in the best interest of the fish.

    As far as economic value of hatchery programs, it appears that the taxpayer pays an exorbitant cost for hatchery steelhead production. We also see inflated energy bills, i.e. – the Baker river hatchery improvement as one example, for hatchery fish production. These fish obviously offer local businesses positive economic benefit by attracting recreational anglers. No one disputes such and I'm one of those beneficiaries.

    That being said, as I’m sure you’re well aware, increasingly we are seeing more scientific evidence as to the detrimental effects of hatchery winter steelhead on our Skagit/Sauk natives, i.e. – Ecological, Genetic and Productivity Consequences of Interaction between Hatchery and Natural-origin Steelhead in the Skagit Watershed, March 2013.

    While we will likely see further information arrive once the SNP genetic analysis is completed (it’s my understanding that this is currently occurring), the current data does confirm a level of introgression that should ignite significant concern in some areas of the Skagit/Sauk watershed.

    You mentioned the Cowlitz. The Skagit/Sauk watershed and Cowlitz would be an apples and oranges comparison in my mind; and, hatchery production is not an all or nothing thing. A basin by basin consideration would certainly appear to be a potentially viable option. What I wonder is, "What the level is of those Cowlitz river fish straying"?

    I’ve had numerous conversations with individuals at WDFW including one of the commissioners as to potential solutions which would increase recreational angling opportunities. I was told by one of those individuals, “That makes way to much sense. WDFW would never do that.”

    I think you would find that most of us involved with NFS are reasonable and willing to compromise if it's based on sound reason and science. Anecdotal information and personal interests don't always correlate with what’s best for the fish.

    Given my occupation and my thoughts regarding our native fish, I may just go blow up my own car.

    I'm always happy to talk fish over a cold one.
    Cheers,
    Ed