Some very good news!?

It’s a pebble in the pond, and the biggest deal for West Coast fisheries conservation ever.

The Wild Fish Conservancy reports that “On Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Michelle Peterson issued a report and recommendation on Wild Fish Conservancy’s lawsuit, agreeing that halting the summer and winter seasons of the Southeast Alaska Chinook troll fishery is the most appropriate remedy.  Simultaneously, the judge found the federal government’s inadequate biological opinion should be remanded back to NOAA in order for the agency to address violations of environmental law. “

Could this be the first domino to fall in a new era of fisheries management?
For decades, the governing bodies managing Pacific Salmon and Steelhead stocks have known that many salmon stocks were deliberately being over harvested at sea. This over harvest is approved by State and Federal agencies, and has directly led to ongoing collapses in salmon stocks in much of the Northwest.
That is real. And you should think about that.

Don’t want to take my word for it?
How about the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal body in charge over seeing salmon management?

Again, as reported by NFS.
“In their most recent analysis of this fishery’s impact on threatened and endangered species, NOAA admits that over the last decade and continuing today, Chinook harvest is occurring at levels that are unsustainable for the long-term survival and reproductive success of both threatened wild Chinook.”

There are two steps to recovering OP winter Native steelhead, one is raising steelhead escapement goals, to increase the number of spawners, the other is raising salmon escapement goals, to increase steelhead smolt health.

Here is how this could be the first domino.
This is a public admission that we know where more than 80% of our “disappeared” king salmon are going.

So then one must ask. Why haven’t any of the “safe seafood” organizations called this out? How are troll caught fish still considered sustainable?
Chefs in the Northwest are boycotting avocados because they use too much water to grow, but are proudly serving fish that are over harvested to the point of destroying entire ecosystems?

How has the mainstream media glossed this over?

How have so many of our sportsman-led conservation organizations ignored this and instead focused on barbless hooks and similar regulations? (Look, barbless hooks are not a bad idea, it’s just if you are deliberately wiping out as much as 97% of a population in one place, pinching barbs in another to reduce mortality on the last 7% may not be the best place to focus.)

There are clear and obvious answers to these questions. And it is time that everyone interested in healthy pacific ecosystems starts think about those answers.
If we all did, we might see the whole line of dominos fall, and fisheries management that could restore a really astounding abundance.
You could help.
Here are some thoughts, pick one, or try all three.

Contact the media outlet where you get your news, and ask them why they aren’t covering this story.

Contact the chef at your favorite restaurant and send them a link.

Contact your favorite fisheries conservation group and tell them, no more checks until they make this a priority.

To me this ruling demonstrates another enormously important fact.
For years fisheries conservation groups have deliberately ignored the issue of salmon over harvest, fearing the interests involved are just too big and powerful. Instead they focused on the “low hanging fruit” small wins that could be achieved to make incremental gains.

This ruling demonstrates that big wins are possible, and attacking big issues head on can work.

It’s a big deal, but there have been several other big deals in salmon management in recent recent years, and all have been quietly pushed to the side (Columbia river gill net ban?), I hope we can hang on to this, I hope we can make this the first step in the path to higher escapement goals and an improvements in nutrient enhancement.

One last thing.
I think it is clear, that if this ruling is acted on it will be devastating to Alaska troll fishermen and their families, and we should remember, they were not the ones that recommended and allowed these fisheries.
NOAA, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and yes, WDFW, all should have stood up to this nonsense years ago. They should be held accountable.
For more on how this could effect OP Native steelhead runs, check here

Jim Kerr

Raincoast guides

Forks, WA

Posted in Winter Steelhead Fly Fishing Report | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

3 Responses to Some very good news!?

  1. Jim Klein says:

    Nice job of taking a complex situation and making it understandable to those of us not in the center of the circle! Nice job of not just enlightening us, but including a call to action.

    I know this is a lot of work for you, but I look forward to hearing how this progresses in the near future. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks Jim! Linking to the story from Wild Fish Conservancy for others who might want to read more about the legal case.

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