At the meeting, several handouts were distributed by WDFW. One document was titled FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION POLICY DECISION, and contained the policy title 2013-2014 North of Falcon # C-3608 dated February 8, 2013. It contained the following statement, “Salmon and steelhead will be managed to recover and assure sustainability in a way that is science-based, well-documented. Transparent, well communicated, and accountable;
This document clearly states the guidelines that will be following in setting the fishing seasons in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. On page one, under Fishery Management, it states, “when assessed from a statewide perspective, fishing directed at Chinook and Coho…will not be exclusively reserved for either sport or commercial users. When managing sport fisheries, meaningful recreational fishing opportunities will be disturbed equitably across fishing areas.
Most sport fishing in Willapa Bay is from just below Tokeland to the range light several miles below South Bend. Sport fishers are for the most part fishing this area in August and September. Last season, this area was given to the commercial fleet from August 12-16, August 21, and with 12-24 hour openings from August 26 to October 14 and from November 1-16. When asked how the sport fishers are to receive meaningful opportunities to catch their fish, we were told fish do not have to be distributed equitably across both groups in Willapa Bay. In particular, the area between South Bend upriver to Raymond and the 01 bridge was netted for the first time. To my knowledge, this area has never been commercially netted before. The fish that managed to escape the bay were faced with almost 41 days of netting, thereby, eliminating meaningful fishing opportunities for sport fishing in the Willapa River.
When the speaker was pressed why Policy C-3608 and North of Falcon guidelines were not being followed, his response was that the policy and guidelines do not apply to Willapa Bay. We were stunned!!! This meeting was about Willapa Bay. A handout on yellow paper clearly stated the guidelines that would be followed in setting fishing seasons in the bay. At this point, it became obvious that this meeting was nothing more than a charade and we were purposely being deceived.
Since WDFW is not managing Willapa Bay in a transparent, well-communicated, and accountable way, we challenge Miranda Wecker, Chair of the Fish and Wildlife Commission, to step forward and explain what is the WDFG doing to our bay and why.
***Policy #C3068 can be assessed on line at the WDFW web site under Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Don Lorentsen, Sport fisher, Raymond
Jim Piton, Sport fisher, Willapa Bay
Skip Allison, Sport fisher, South Bend
Jim Hillery, Sport fisher, Raymond
Greg Blevins, Sport fisher, South Bend
Gary Jordan, Sport fisher, Raymond
Loren Willet, Sport fisher, Willapa Bay
Harvey Willet, Sport fisher, Willapa Bay