Time to stand up for Olympic Peninsula wild steelhead

Time to stand up for Olympic Peninsula wild steelhead

Wild Steelhead, Washington’s State Fish, collapsing on the Olympic Peninsula.

On August 1, 2022, The Conservation Angler and Wild Fish Conservancy delivered a petition to list Olympic Peninsula Wild Steelhead as a Threatened Species under the federal Endangered Species Act. 

“Wild steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula are at a crossroads. Our review of the history of poor management within the state of Washington illuminates a long-term failure by fisheries managers to reverse the ebbing tide of decline towards extinction. No matter how you examine this decline, the wild fish are in peril in fabled rivers such as the Sol Duc, Bogachiel, Hoh, Queets, and Quinault Rivers”. “Our goal is to change the management paradigm so these wild fish survive into the future – some of these fish live in a national park – Wild steelhead know what to do and we need to let them get on with it!”

– Pete Soverel, Board Chair and founder of The Conservation Angler and a long-time Olympic Peninsula angler.

NOAA Fisheries has 90 days to determine if the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. 

“An ESA listing won’t solve all the problems, but after decades of missed opportunities by Washington state fishery managers to address proactively and adequately the crisis of this dramatic decline, it’s past time to take accountability and mobilize additional resources for recovery sufficient to reverse this trend. Listing these wild steelhead as threatened or endangered and designating critical habitat will bring in federal oversight and provide a more robust legal framework to ensure actions and decisions are supported by best available science,”

– Emma Helverson, Executive Director of Wild Fish Conservancy. 

Wild steelhead can’t rely on WDFW to protect and recover them. 

“Washington has not demonstrated that it will take the action needed not only to stem the decline but follow a solid path to recovery. It will take all of us working together – including the feds – to make that happen. This is the first step in that new journey. The Olympic Peninsula is the wild steelhead’s last stand – if they can’t make it on the OP – with its free-flowing rivers and National Park quality habitat, then there isn’t any place in the lower 48 where the future of steelhead is secure.” 

-John McMillan, The Conservation Angler’s Science Director who has fished for and studied OP wild steelhead for 24 years.

The petitioners look forward to NOAA Fisheries 90-day review on whether the petitioned action may be warranted. 

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