Tag Archives: COMMERCIAL

Chums Begin To Arrive In Central, South Sound After Slow Start, Dispute

State commercial fishing managers say they scrubbed a Puget Sound chum salmon fishery last week after the Squaxin Island Tribe expressed “deep doubts about the run.”

“We understand tribal concerns with their fisheries occurring in extreme terminal areas and closed the seine fishery to help address those concerns,” reads a WDFW statement sent out late Friday afternoon.

THE SQUAXIN ISLAND TRIBE CALLED “FOUL” ON STATE SALMON MANAGERS LAST WEEK IN PROTEST OF CONTINUED FISHING ON AT THE TIME WHAT LOOKED LIKE A LOW RETURN OF CHUM SALMON. A CHUM LEAPS OUT OF ALASKA’S COLD BAY. (K. MUELLER, USFWS)

Squaxin Chairman Arnold Cooper had blasted the agency earlier in the week for planning to continue to fish despite low initial returns and the tribe deciding not to go out for chums.

“When the co-manager alerts you to a problem in real fish, they need to stop telling us that the computer model says there is plenty of paper fish and there is no problem,” Cooper said in a press release. “The state ignores the warning, on the hope that the rains will come, the rivers will rise, and the fish will show up. The tribe hopes that is so, but is not willing to risk the run.”

Cooper said that at the time returns to Kennedy Creek at the head of Totten Inlet was just 20 percent of usual.

WDFW acknowledged that fewer chums were showing up in streams that see early runs, but said there have been good signs to the north.

“Purse seine catch per landing in Areas 10 and 11 on Monday was the highest we have seen for this week since 2007,” the statement said. “Two weeks ago it was one of the lowest we have seen in recent years.”

WDFW reports that 165,000 chums have been caught in the nontribal commercial fishery off Seattle and Tacoma. It said that while there are still salmon available for state netters (~36,000), per a preseason agreement the fishery closed as of last Friday morning to protect Nisqually River winter chums.

Southern resident killer whales from J Pod have been feasting on chums off Vashon Island and elsewhere in the Central Sound since last week. Transient, or marine mammal-eating Bigg’s orcas, have also been in the area.

Chums were definitely in evidence in Seattle’s Pipers Creek over the weekend, where 40 had been counted by early afternoon on Saturday, ballooning the season total to 54.

THE BROTHERS WALGAMOTT LOOK FOR CHUMS AND COHO SATURDAY IN SEATTLE’S PIPERS CREEK WHERE IT RUNS THROUGH CARKEEK PARK. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

WDFW says that surveyors spotted far more chums in Kennedy Creek, 3,524, on Nov. 7, though that figure is on the low side.

“While we may be below the 10-year average for this date of 9,033 chum, we are within the range expected during this time, especially given the lack of rain which typically serves as an environmental cue for fish to move onto the spawning grounds,” the agency statement said.

According to precipitation totals posted on KOMO’s website, November rainfall is one-third of average and running 1.25 inches behind since the start of the water year, Oct. 1.

The escapement goal for Kennedy Creek is 14,400 in even years, 11,500 in odds. According to WDFW, those figures have been met 27 years in a row.

The overall preseason forecast for Central and South Sound was 543,637. The state and tribes agreed to lower that to 478,000 two weeks ago, but WDFW test fishery and purse seine models last week spit out 643,566 and 538,330, figures the tribes didn’t agree to.

A POD OF CHUMS HEAD UP PIPERS CREEK. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Westport Commercial Crabber Fined $5,000 For Stealing Others’ Pots

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

A Grays Harbor County judge has sentenced a commercial crab fisherman to 90 days of electronic home monitoring and fined him $5,000 for stealing crab pots offshore of Westport, concluding a case that began with an investigation last year by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Larrin Breitsprecher, 57, of Westport, was sentenced Dec. 1 by Grays Harbor County Superior Court Judge Mark McCauley after a jury found him guilty of possessing stolen property and related charges. Beginning May 1, Breitsprecher will be required to remain at home for three months unless he requires medical attention.

WITH STOLEN CRAB POTS PILED AS EVIDENCE IN THE CORNER OF A COURTROOM, GRAYS HARBOR DEPUTY PROSECUTOR RANDY TRICK (LEFT, BACKGROUND) CONFERS WITH ATTORNEYS FOR DEFENDANT LARRIN BREITSPRECHER, WHO WAS ON TRIAL FOR STEALING CRAB POTS. IN THE FOREGROUND, WDFW FISH AND WILDLIFE OFFICER ED WELTER STANDS BY. (WDFW)

WDFW Police Captain Dan Chadwick said the department began its investigation after a deckhand on Breitsprecher’s crab boat told officers that his boss directed him to steal crab pots while fishing near Westport.

After obtaining a search warrant, police officers from WDFW and the Quinault Indian Nation seized 32 commercial crab pots from Breitsprecher’s gear stack at the Port of Westport and determined that at least 24 of them belonged to other crabbers, Chadwick said.

OFFICER WELTER POSES WITH COMMERCIAL CRAB POTS HAULED INTO A GRAYS HARBOR COURTROOM. (WDFW)

“A commercial crab pot fully rigged can run $200 to $250, so the loss of multiple pots can really add up,” he said. “We appreciate that the Grays Harbor prosecutor’s office pursued this case, because it demonstrates that the law extends to ocean waters.” Chadwick said the department also appreciated the assistance of the Quinault tribal police.

WDFW currently licenses 223 coastal crab vessels, which landed 16.4 million pounds of Dungeness crab with a dockside value of $52 million during the 2016-17 season.

Editor’s note: This WDFW press release has been updated with the correct spelling of the defendant’s last name. It is Breitsprecher, not Brietsprecher as originally reported by the agency.

Chance To Join Columbia River Fishery Advisory Panels; Nominations Due By Nov. 30

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Fishery managers in Oregon and Washington are seeking candidates to fill positions on advisory committees that provide guidance on sport and commercial fishing issues on the Columbia and Snake rivers. The term is for three years from 2018-2020.

OREGON AND WASHINGTON FISHERY MANAGERS ARE LOOKING TO FILL POSITIONS ON  ADVISORY PANELS FOR SPORT AND COMMERCIAL FISHERIES HELD ON THE COLUMBIA AND SNAKE RIVERS. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The two states’ fish and wildlife departments will accept nominations to their joint advisory groups on Columbia River sport and commercial fisheries through Thursday, Nov. 30. The two groups meet two to four times per year to assist with developing recommendations for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and smelt fisheries.

Members are also expected to provide comments on issues addressed by the North of Falcon season-setting process for salmon fisheries, Columbia River Compact commercial fishing hearings and joint state hearings on sport fishing regulations.

“Advisory group members provide an important voice for the fishing public,” said Tucker Jones, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Program Manager for Ocean Salmon and Columbia River Fisheries. “We’re looking for candidates who are interested in filling that role.”

Up to 20 candidates (combined) from Oregon and Washington will be chosen for each advisory group, which together represent most aspects of the fishing industry in Columbia River, Jones said.

Any group or individual may submit a nomination. Nominations for new advisors should include the following information: A resume with contact information and a statement that describes the nominee’s fishing experience, interest in serving on the committee and ability to communicate with regional constituents. Current members may re-apply by contacting staff and expressing interest in serving an additional term.

Nominations can be submitted by mail to John North, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, 17330 SE Clackamas, OR 97015, by FAX at (971) 673-6072, or by email to john.a.north@state.or.us.

For more information, please contact John North at 971-673-6029, Tucker Jones at 971-673-6067, or visit ODFW’s Columbia River Fisheries Management page on-line.