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

Sportsfishers Endangered in Willapa Drainage

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The first example is the hammering of area 2N, the Nemah Flats with typically only one-day gaps between netting periods. This provides little regular flow through the lower Nemah. Early fish go up and hold and get black, and few new fish arrive in the only fishable run left, the fall chinook.

Slanting the ultimate escapement toward one part of the run is also not the best management scheme. Management decisions have left us with only one fishable run in the Nemah, whereas 10 years ago there were three. Jamming that one run down to one week except for Williams’s campground is not the way to go. Please provide a two or three day gap in netting 2N every week that chinook are moving through the bay. We used to catch them through end of September. That must be put back.
    No take on chums with a management goal of 10 percent kill by nets must be alleviated. Fourteen thousand taken last year with still no sport take allowed must change. One per day by sports on chum would mean sports would get these 14,000 back in about 20 years! There should be no net take of these fish until carrying capacity is reached nine of ten years. This should be a familiar concept – being applied to sports already. Should there be any "need" to allow chum to be kept in nets again this year, the same emergency opener must be allowed for sports. To our knowledge, no one has proposed or authorized making chum in Willapa Bay an exclusively commercial fish. This was defacto the case last year and must not be repeated.
    Closing nets on Oct 12 instead of 15 this year is a good move. There are too many chum in the bay by Oct 15.
The commitment to meet escapement of Natural Spawning chinooks in the Naselle is not demonstrated by netting the Naselle channel four days in early September. Escapements are not met nine of 10 years or anything close. Zero take of wild chinook is allowed again here. Hatchery release has been sharply reduced. Netting this run four days causes at least 10 percent mortality.

Again we have a situation where goals are not met, no take is allowed by sports, and greater than 10 percent would be killed commercially. There are supposed to be wilder than hatchery fish in this run. So why would you net it? Continuation of such an approach would indicate that the wild run development goal for the Naselle is window dressing, not for real and would not pass the common sense test.

Ross Barkhurst


Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on 7/5/12. If you would like to respond to this story, go to


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