Thu, Dec 2, 2021
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Willapa Harbor Herald
Lewis County News
Traveler's Companion
(360) 942-3466 • PO Box 706, Raymond, WA 98577

Decrease the Size of the WDFW

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This plan was successful in destroying a very successful volunteer program mostly started and managed by commercial and sports fishers. These volunteers had started remote site incubators (RSI's), in Pacific County in the 1980's. In 1988 there were the largest returns of salmon to the Willapa since the 1920's.

But, some bright WDFW "scientist" decided these were not "wild salmon", because they might be the product of the hatcheries. Therefore this volunteer program must stop. In the 1950's and 1960's another group of WDFW "scientist" decided to change the nature of Willapa Bay, to make it a sports fishing destination, so they imported over 10 different Coho and Chinook runs into the Willapa to increase the time period that the salmon would bite, oh, and yes and decided to kill-off the Chum salmon, which was historically 65% of the total salmon run, so the Coho and Chinook could occupy the habitat the Chum were using. These "scientists" had failed to understand a simple fact...Willapa Bay habitat evolved from the last ice age as a Chum salmon habitat, Chum spawn in low gradient streams close to the estuary, and don't rear in the stream, but the estuary, and are the food source for the other salmon species; Coho and Chinook which spawn in larger gradient streams, and rear from 6 to 18 months in the stream, then the estuary, but now all the Chum are gone and no food source... wonderful!

But, wait it gets better. In 2005 and 2007, other Willapa Plans were developed by WDFW, in which WDFW "scientists" decided they could actually allow harvest of a mixed stock of hatchery and wild salmon, by commercial and sports fishers using a catch and release method, this wonderful "scientific" WDFW management plan in fact has lead to a continued decrease in all salmon species in the Willapa.

But...not to worry, WDFW also introduced a number of slogans which would by just saying them salmon would magically appear: Scientifically derived, Science based, inter-grading the H's (habitat, hatchery, and harvest), Conservation, Wild Salmon, Wild salmon index, All-H Hatchery Analyzer (AHA)...wonderful papers were written, meeting, and conferences were held, millions were spent...but since salmon can't read they didn't know they were being saved by WDFW, so their numbers continued to decrease.

Supporting this con game has been a fraudulent calculation by WDFW to show high salmon populations to impress our legislators so they would force WDFW to have more days of fishing for commercial and sports. WDFW Estimates runs sizes by sampling of Redds (holes made by salmon attempting reproduction). Nothing wrong with statistical sampling...but when WDFW is in charge they do it wrong, which results in much higher estimates of salmon returns than actually are available, and they then over harvest, without sufficient escapement of brood stock. This is like estimating the US population based upon the number of attempts at reproduction each year in the US. That would be a big number.

Today we now have a new Willapa Plan in process, but with WDFW in charge of the numbers nothing will change. Nothing will change until new honest management is appointed at several layers in WDFW. Today the Willapa has sufficient habitat to support much larger numbers of salmon, but the harvest is not controlled, and I believe fraudulently manipulated to bring in more dollars to WDFW. Millions of dollars have been spent on: habitat restoration, forest owners, and farmers have gone to great expense to implement mindless requirements, and our salmon populations have decrease in the 746 streams, (about 1400 miles), of streams in Willapa Bay, but WDFW budget grows to support a fat bureaucracy.

Yes...this appears to be inversely proportional: Want to increase salmon populations...then decrease the size of WDFW. This should be the plan.

Ron Craig

South Bend

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