August 2, 2022
Disappointing indeed! I have been monitoring the periodic meetings of Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) regarding the development of a Coastal Steelhead Proviso Implementation Plan to protect each river system of Grays Harbor, Willapa Bay and the coastal Olympic Peninsula – as required by the Washington Legislature in the 2021-23 budget. Prior to the undertaking the WDFW formed an AD-Hoc Coastal Steelhead Advisory Group consisting of 12 hand-picked community representatives to participate in the meetings.
The first meeting was in February 2022, and there have been 3 meetings since. The next meeting is scheduled for August 17. The meetings are recorded and available for your listening pleasure. However, for the steelhead enthusiast, I believe you will find the content as disappointing as I have. I have not heard one single proposal from WDFW or the Advisory Group that would have any positive impact whatsoever.
Example: June 14, 2022 meeting. Two main WDFW proposals for discussion.
1. Test fishery. WDFW views this as a viable means of determining the magnitude of returns. A test fishery was implemented for a period of time on the Cowlitz River a number of years back. My search has not been able to turn up any record of whatever data may have been collected, nor how it may have been utilized to enhance fishery management. Any test fishery represents a mere snapshot in time, contributing no perceivable data beneficial to evaluation of the past – nor projections or decision making going forward. It does, however, seem like a great way for WDFW employees to enjoy regularly scheduled, guided fishing trips at taxpayer expense….
2. Reduced seasons. WDFW is proposing that seasons be established for each coastal river consistent with anticipated hatchery returns. This would seemingly limit any potential engagement with a native steelhead to Tribal nets only. Interesting!
Lacking the testicular fortitude to address the following issues, enumerated in order of importance, renders any other decisions of this group completely ineffective and meaningless. They are:
1. Commercial harvest of coastal rivers must be terminated. Mortality rate of wild steelhead in Tribal nets is 100%
2. Commercial harvest restrictions within two miles of the mouth of major coastal rivers
3. Reduction in predation by excessive numbers of Sea Lions, Seals, Cormorants, and Mergansers
The AD-Hoc Coastal Steelhead Advisory Committee members have a unique opportunity. Formed by WDFW originally to show Legislators public endorsement for expansion of existing, ineffective management programs of the past 45 years – they can actually turn the table and influence positive change. I sincerely hope they find the courage to step up to the plate. These 12 represent our last, best opportunity to save our steelhead. It is disappointing indeed to report that right now things are looking pretty bleak…. Their names and email addresses are listed on the WDFW website. I encourage you to email each with this simple message “STOP THE KILLING”.
Paid for by
Jerry Effenberger, Concerned Citizen