The tail wags the dog

Salmo_g

Life of the Party
Forum Supporter
I just heard back from WDFW local office regarding Skagit steelhead escapement and next year's (2023) run size forecast. Still waiting for another layer of approval before releasing the escapement estimate. I find this troubling. The technical work has been done. That is, the spawning surveys and the subsequent calculations. This ain't rocket science. Another layer of approval (i.e., "co-managers") looks like policy affecting science absent a damn good explanation indicating otherwise. Steelhead run size forecast used to be due in early December prior to any fishing on the season's run. Again, the steelhead forecasts ain't rocket science either, but I'm now told that the information will be released sometime in December, or even January. This tells me that recreational steelhead fishing is among the lowest of the low priorities for WDFW. If there is going to be a steelhead season, many out of state anglers - the kind who spend more money to fish here - need to make vacation and travel arrangements well in advance. All this reinforces my point that WDFW is becoming ever less relevant to sport fishing in Washington.
 

charles sullivan

Steelhead
Forum Supporter
I just heard back from WDFW local office regarding Skagit steelhead escapement and next year's (2023) run size forecast. Still waiting for another layer of approval before releasing the escapement estimate. I find this troubling. The technical work has been done. That is, the spawning surveys and the subsequent calculations. This ain't rocket science. Another layer of approval (i.e., "co-managers") looks like policy affecting science absent a damn good explanation indicating otherwise. Steelhead run size forecast used to be due in early December prior to any fishing on the season's run. Again, the steelhead forecasts ain't rocket science either, but I'm now told that the information will be released sometime in December, or even January. This tells me that recreational steelhead fishing is among the lowest of the low priorities for WDFW. If there is going to be a steelhead season, many out of state anglers - the kind who spend more money to fish here - need to make vacation and travel arrangements well in advance. All this reinforces my point that WDFW is becoming ever less relevant to sport fishing in Washington.
I think that this is a natural consequence of the belief that WDFW is responsible for the declines in fish runs. They aren't and yet groups still attack them as if they are.
 

charles sullivan

Steelhead
Forum Supporter
I think it's a consequence of passing managing of anadromous fish to treaty tribes instead of doing its legislatively mandated job.
So, if WDFW got their own ESA permit in Puget Sound, would NMFS issue a permit? I mean, would anyone fish in the salt at all?

I don't believe that they would get a permit from the feds. Because of that, they have to cave on most other things.
 

Salmo_g

Life of the Party
Forum Supporter
Regarding the PS Chinook permit, NMFS "urges" WDFW to ride shirt tail on the tribal permit because that's the least work alternative for NMFS. If WDFW applied for its own permit, NMFS would have to process it, which would be complicated because treaty impacts would not be fully known. Just because it's complicated is poor reasoning for not doing it. As you point out, following NMFS's advice means WDFW caves to treaty tribes on all things pertaining to NOF or PS allocations. WDFW caving takes WDFW out of the management process, which isn't much different than abdicating its legislative mandate. Ergo, the tail is wagging the dog. To answer the question, yes, NMFS could issue a permit, but NMFS wants to stay out of the sticky mess of allocation decisions. Again, just because something is difficult or complicated isn't necessarily a very good reason for not doing it.
 

_WW_

Geriatric Skagit Swinger
Forum Supporter
Perhaps you need to ask a different question.
"What is it that WDFW sent to the tribes for "approval?"

Alternatively, since it isn't rocket science, maybe they can give us the the "technical" stuff in the spirit of transparency so we can make our own determination.

These are our fish also. I think we have a right to see the information.
 

Salmo_g

Life of the Party
Forum Supporter
Approval of the "official" spawning escapement estimate and official co-manager pre-season wild steelhead run size forecast.

I have a thing about indeterminate time frames. In the spirit of co-management, I'd say, "Here's my estimate. If I don't hear back from you within two weeks, I'll assume you have no input."
 

_WW_

Geriatric Skagit Swinger
Forum Supporter
Basically what are you asking the tribes to approve?

Or, ask Scott what it is they want him to approve?
 

Salmo_g

Life of the Party
Forum Supporter
WDFW is waiting for approval of the escapement estimate and agreement on the pre-season run size forecast.
 

Salmo_g

Life of the Party
Forum Supporter
File a Public Disclosure Act request? However WDFW is notoriously non-compliant with that state law.
 

skyrise

Smolt
don’t see that river ever being open to steelhead fishing in the winter ever again. not unless a bunch of folks in olympia are removed. they use Science only when it benefits there agendas (Spring bear hunt gone).
 

kerrys

Ignored Member
Forum Supporter
don’t see that river ever being open to steelhead fishing in the winter ever again. not unless a bunch of folks in olympia are removed. they use Science only when it benefits there agendas (Spring bear hunt gone).
Many said the same thing when the steelhead season was shutdown in 2010. It took a concerted effort by anglers to eventually get the Skagit winter steelhead season reinstated.
 

Salmo_g

Life of the Party
Forum Supporter
don’t see that river ever being open to steelhead fishing in the winter ever again. not unless a bunch of folks in olympia are removed. they use Science only when it benefits there agendas (Spring bear hunt gone).
I disagree. There will be a season when the pre-season run size estimate is greater than 4,000. My complaint here is that co-management has become lop-sided, with WDFW unwilling to act until they get tribal sign off. The agenda, if any, is to carry the co-management concept to such an extreme that treaty tribes have virtual veto authority by simply not acting.
 

charles sullivan

Steelhead
Forum Supporter
Regarding the PS Chinook permit, NMFS "urges" WDFW to ride shirt tail on the tribal permit because that's the least work alternative for NMFS. If WDFW applied for its own permit, NMFS would have to process it, which would be complicated because treaty impacts would not be fully known. Just because it's complicated is poor reasoning for not doing it. As you point out, following NMFS's advice means WDFW caves to treaty tribes on all things pertaining to NOF or PS allocations. WDFW caving takes WDFW out of the management process, which isn't much different than abdicating its legislative mandate. Ergo, the tail is wagging the dog. To answer the question, yes, NMFS could issue a permit, but NMFS wants to stay out of the sticky mess of allocation decisions. Again, just because something is difficult or complicated isn't necessarily a very good reason for not doing it.

I do not believe that NMFS would approve any fisheries directed at chinook. There is no chance to get a "no" when it goes through the BIA. I understand what you are saying and mostly agree. My thought is that it is permitting marine fisheries that create the mess. If WDFW "went it alone" I believe that their cut of the PS salmon pie would be 0% and they know that.

I share your frustrations regarding the agreed upon framework. I am somewhat optimistic because the sporties and tribes share an interest. The pie has already been cut. The question is how big of a pie. I think that he tribes may have some data that WDFW has not used. Anecdotally, I have heard that the run was pretty good for some of the test fisheries. I mean that as in remarkably better.

I hope that it truly is a game of sharing data rather than fighting. Maybe I'm the Polly-Anna?
 
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