Action Required - Help Recover RockfishFebruary 26, 2013
Some Puget Sound Rockfish and other groundfish populations have crashed and are not recovering. They are fundamental to the ecological integrity and recovery of Puget Sound. Much of the decline is attributed to overfishing.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) recently conducted a test recreational fishery in Neah Bay (Marine Area 4B) to evaluate what impact the current recreational bottomfishing regulations have on protected rockfish (Quillback, Copper, Canary, Yellowtail, China, Vermilion, and Tiger Rockfish).
The raw field data reveal a major problem: an unacceptable amount of "protected" rockfish bycatch could occur during recreational bottomfishing trips:
• For each legal Lingcod caught, thirty-five “protected” rockfish were caught.
• For each legal Cabezon caught, twenty-two “protected” rockfish were caught.
Due to their unique physiology, all caught rockfish are extremely susceptible to barotrauma – the often fatal expansion of air in their swim bladder that occurs when they are reeled in by anglers. Rockfish have a low survival rate when released.
Avoiding encounters with "protected" rockfish is the best solution. In the absence of an effective network of marine reserves to truly protect sensitive rockfish populations, reductions in Lingcod and Cabezon angling are necessary to reduce protected rockfish bycatch encounters.
How You Can Help
Send an email to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission telling them that not enough is being done to protect Puget Sound bottomfish. Simply copy the following text into the body of your email and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org by 8:00PM Thursday, February 28, 2013.
Dear Fish and Wildlife Commissioners,
I'm writing to voice my concern that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is not doing enough to protect rockfish populations in Puget Sound. WDFW test fishery data collected in Neah Bay clearly demonstrate that many protected rockfish are likely to be caught and released by anglers fishing for lingcod and other bottomfish in Neah Bay. But released rockfish have a low survival rate because all caught rockfish are extremely susceptible to barotrauma – the often fatal expansion of air in their swim bladder that occurs when they are reeled in by anglers. Avoiding encounters with non-targeted rockfish is the best solution.
I ask that you support interim measures that reduce angler encounters with non-target rockfish and other long-lived bottomfish. These measures should include the more conservative fishing regulations proposed by the Department in rules #69 and #65.
I also urge you to encourage the Department to increase protection to rockfish and other bottomfish by developing a science-based network of marine reserves and protected areas in Puget Sound, as authorized in Commission Policy C3013 (1998).
[Your name here]
Remember, comments must be received by 8:00 PM Thursday, February 28, 2013.