Action Alert: Tell WDFW to adopt regulations that protect Olympic Peninsula wild steelheadNovember 11, 2015
Washingtonians have been hard on steelhead, their state fish. A century of gross mismanagement has taken its toll on steelhead populations throughout Washington. In Puget Sound, steelhead populations have been reduced to 3% of their historic abundance, despite the fact that 67% of their habitat remains. This steady downward trend is also happening to the famed wild steelhead runs of the Olympic Peninsula—run sizes have declined since the mid-1980’s in the Quillayute system (Sol Duc, Bogachiel, Calawah) and the late-1970’s in the Hoh and Queets—due in large part to increased fishing pressure. We have a responsibility to halt this trend and secure a brighter future for this magnificent fish.
The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) recently rolled out its proposed Sportfishing Rule Changes for 2016-2017. These changes are a collection of proposals that were submitted by the public and WDFW staff. Wild Fish Conservancy supports three of the proposed changes aimed at reducing fishing impacts on wild steelhead. These changes are a positive step in the right direction but fall short of addressing the underlying threat to Olympic Peninsula steelhead: too many anglers fishing over too few fish results in wild steelhead being caught and released multiple times. The impacts to wild fish are cumulative, may kill them, and certainly reduce their likelihood of reproducing successfully. The foreseeable result is an ESA-listing that reduces fishing opportunities for all.
Until WDFW manages that threat by developing a fair and responsible limited-entry fishery, these three proposed rules are an overdue improvement in status-quo management of steelhead fishing on the Peninsula. Please take a few minutes and get involved in the process by providing written comments and testimony in support of these new rules that are being proposed. Comments are being accepted through November 12.
The proposed rule changes are listed below:
1. Rule #48: Prohibit the harvest of all wild steelhead and rainbow trout on select Olympic Peninsula rivers such as the Hoh, Bogachiel, and Sol Duc. Comment on Rule #48
2. Rule #47: Implement selective gear rules such as barbless hooks and no bait during winter months on select Olympic Peninsula rivers in order to protect juvenile steelhead, salmon, and trout. Comment on Rule #47
3. Rule #46: Implement “no fishing from a floating device” rules on select Olympic Peninsula rivers to protect holding and spawning adult steelhead and salmon. Comment on Rule #46
Tell the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife to adopt these regulations that better-protect Olympic Peninsula wild steelhead, and that they’re missing an opportunity to more fully protect and recover wild Olympic Peninsula steelhead by creating a limited-entry fishery there.
You can also give public testimony on these rule proposals at the WDFW Commission Meeting:
When: November 14th, 8:00 am
Where: Natural Resources Building
First Floor, Room 172
1111 Washington St SE
Olympia WA 98501