Tag Archives: wdfw

Chance To Serve On WDFW’s Puget Sound Fisheries Enhancement Oversight Panel

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

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking members of the sport fishing community to serve on a committee that oversees the Puget Sound Recreational Fisheries Enhancement program.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

People interested in serving on the 10-member Puget Sound Recreational Fisheries Enhancement Oversight Committee have through Friday, Nov. 16 to apply.

The committee was created in 2003 by the Legislature to advise WDFW’s Director on all aspects of the fisheries enhancement program. Key responsibilities of the program are to restore and enhance recreational fisheries in Puget Sound, ensure the productivity of sustainable populations of salmon and marine bottomfish, and promote recreational fishing opportunities.

Ten volunteers will be appointed to the oversight committee. Members serve two-year terms and may be re-appointed. The next term begins in January 2019 and expires in December 2020.

The committee, which is a broad representation of the sport fishing community, meets several times a year to review projects and provide guidance on funding activities related to the enhancement program.

To qualify, applicants should be closely linked and maintain strong communication with the recreational fishing community, have an understanding of salmon and bottomfish fisheries in Puget Sound and be able to attend the meetings.

Committee members do not receive direct compensation for their work.

Interested individuals do not have to be affiliated with an organized group. Individuals must submit a letter of interest and a resume with the following information:

  • Name, address, telephone number and email address.
  • Relevant experience and reasons for wanting to serve as a member of the enhancement group.
  • Effectiveness in communication, including outreach and promotion.

Interested individuals should submit their application electronically to David Stormer at david.stormer@dfw.wa.gov or mail to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Attn: David Stormer, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia WA, 98501-1091.

For more information on the enhancement program and oversight committee, please visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/advisory/psrfef/ or contact David Stormer at (360) 902-0058.

Strait, San Juans, North Sound To Reopen For Dungeness

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

Some areas of Puget Sound will reopen for recreational crab fishing on Oct. 6, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

A POT FULL OF SAN JUANS CRABS. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The late-season crab openings were approved by fishery managers after summer catch assessments by WDFW indicated additional crab are available for harvest, said Don Velasquez, shellfish manager for the department.

Areas opening to sport crabbing on Oct. 6 include marine areas 4 (Neah Bay, east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island, and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardiner), and 9 (Admiralty Inlet), except for waters south of a line from Olele Point to Foulweather Bluff.

In each of these areas, crabbing will be allowed seven days a week through Dec. 31.

Sport crabbing will be closed in marine areas 10 (Seattle Bremerton), 11 (Vashon Island), 12 (Hood Canal), 13 (South Puget Sound), and in the remainder of Marine Area 9.

Maps and descriptions of the two sections of Marine Area 9 are on the WDFW website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/area.php?id=16.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. Additional information is available on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/.

All Dungeness crab caught in the late-season fishery must be recorded immediately on winter catch cards, which are valid through Dec. 31. Winter cards are free to those with crab endorsements and are available at license vendors across the state.

Winter crab catch reports are due to WDFW by Feb. 1, 2019. For more information on catch record cards, visit WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/crc.html.

Fight Against Bucket Biologists Going High Tech

Potential good news from the fight against bucket biologists.

Montana fishery biologists using something called “forensic geochemistry” have figured out the source and timeframe that walleye were moved into Swan Lake, in the state’s northwestern corner.

OTOLITHS, A BONE IN THE EAR OF FISH, CONTAINS CHEMICAL SIGNATURES THAT PROVIDES CLUES ABOUT WHERE THE ANIMAL CAME FROM. (OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY, FLICKR)

And genetic material from northern pike in Northeast Washington is pointing to a different source than the widely assumed one.

Whether or not the new tools help lead to arrests is a good question, but they will at least serve as a warning shot across the bow of those who would illicitly move fish around.

IN THE CASE OF THE WALLEYE, managers have concluded that at least two fish were driven over the continental divide on a 200-mile journey that occurred in the spring of 2015, according to a report in the Columbia Basin Bulletin last month.

“Our findings now allow investigators to look at fishing license sales, webcams, and boat registrations around the Lake Helena area for the time period when the walleye were illegally introduced,” Samuel Bourett, an FWP researcher, told the emailed newsletter.

The species is native to the Mississippi River and lower Missouri River basins, but as was common earlier last century walleye were moved westward for fishing opportunities.

Nowadays, the tide has turned against moving nonnative fish — or at least nonsterile ones — into new locations, though decades of population growth provide a ready reservoir for those who want to continue the practice.

But fishery officials are fighting back with increasingly sophisticated means.

In early 2016, several months after two walleye were gillnetted at Swan, Bourett’s agency and conservation groups offered a $30,000 reward for information on the illicit stocking of the lake, which provides critical habitat for Endangered Species Act-listed bull and cutthroat trout.

They also began examining the otoliths of the fish, looking for chemical signatures that could pinpoint where they came from.

In 2017 they built a database with fish from 13 popular Montana walleye waters.

Out of that they determined the origin of the Swan Lake release.

“Core to edge geochemical profiles of [two types of strontium] and (strontium/calcium) ratios in the walleye otoliths revealed that these fish had been introduced to Swan Lake within the past growing season, and their geochemical signature matched that of walleye sampled from Lake Helena, Montana, located 309 road kilometres away,” write Bourett and Niall Clancy in a paper recently published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

Illegally stocking fish in Montana is punishable with fines running from $2,000 to $10,000, the loss of all license privileges and cleanup costs.

WDFW BIOLOGIST DANNY GARRETT SCOWLS WHILE HOLDING THE 13.5-POUND GRAVID HEN WALLEYE HE NETTED OUT OF LAKE WASHINGTON IN 2015. (DANNY GARRETT, WDFW)

Well to the west, in 2012 the otoliths of walleye from Lakes Roosevelt and Moses and Potholes and Scooteny Reservoirs were compared with those from Lake Washington fish for a common chemical signature but no match was found, according to state fisheries biologist Danny Garrett, who himself netted half a dozen more in 2015.

“I think there is merit in doing more of this work,” he notes.

THEY’RE NOT THE ONLY ONES TRACING where invasive fish are coming from. Dr. Kellie Carim works for the U.S. Forest Service’s National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation out of Missoula, and she’s looking into pike.

Another Upper Midwest transplant, northerns are also popular with fishermen but present a nightmare threat for Northwest salmon and steelhead managers as the species has crept its way down the Pend Oreille River and into Lake Roosevelt and is now at the mouth of the Spokane River, according to a recent story. Anecdotal reports from anglers put them further down, in Lake Rufus Woods.

With funding from a USDA Tribal College Initiative Grant, Carim has come to a rather interesting conclusion about where many of those pike actually originated.

“The history we’ve told ourselves, the simplest explanation, is that the fish are flowing downstream from Western Montana,” she says.

That is, from Noxon Reservoir, down the Clark Fork River into Idaho and through Lake Pend Oreille before arriving in Washington.

“However, what the genetic analysis says is that those in Lake Roosevelt and the Pend Oreille River are closely related to those in the Couer d’Alene drainage,” Carim says.

Rather than taking an aquatic highway, they most likely took a paved one, in a livewell up US 95 to I-90 to either Idaho 41 or US 2 to Washington 20 and the river.

From there, their population built and the theory has been that in high water years they were entrained out of the Pend Oreille into the Columbia River in British Columbia and then Lake Roosevelt.

DAVEY McKERN HOLDS ONE OF THE FIRST NORTHERN PIKE CAUGHT IN LAKE ROOSEVELT. THE SPECIES HAS BEEN LARGELY CONCENTRATED OFF THE MOUTHS OF THE KETTLE AND COLVILLE RIVERS, BUT SOME HAVE BEEN FOUND DOWNSTREAM AT THE MOUTH OF THE SPOKANE RIVER, ACCORDING TO A NORTHWEST POWER AND CONSERVATION COUNCIL REPORT. (DAVEY MCKERN)

Carim, whose work aims to identify where the pike are coming from to stop the flow into Eastern Washington, adds that DNA from other Upper Columbia and Pend Oreille fish aren’t in the database, meaning there are more potential sources out there too.

“We definitely need to collect more samples. Some fish are aren’t ‘assigning’ very well,” she says.

Next week, she will be presenting before the Northwest Power and Conservation Council on pike.

Meanwhile, state and tribal managers have been teaming up to take a hammer to the species.

According to a recent NWPCC article by John Harrison, 18,000 have been scooped out of the Pend Oreille River by the Kalispel Tribe and another 1,800 have been removed from Lake Roosevelt by the Colville and Spokane Tribes and WDFW. Anglers have also turned in more than 1,000 heads for cash through a Colville Tribes program. And hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent to protect the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars put into salmon recovery in the Columbia Basin.

While bucket biologists will likely continue their illegal pike and walleye stockings, the odds are now increasing that someone will get caught.

Unexpectedly, Cathlamet The Top Station In 2018 Pikeminnow Reward Fishery

Updated 1:41 p.m., Oct. 3, 2018

Turns out, it was a good year for Cathlamet’s M.D. Johnson and his granddaughter to dabble in pikeminnow fishing.

They tried their hand catching the Columbia River species for cash, making $85 in fairly short order.

THE PIKEMINNOW SPORT REWARD PROGRAM AIMS TO REDUCE PREDATION BY THE NATIVE SPECIES ON SALMON AND STEELHEAD SMOLTS MIGRATING THROUGH THE HYDROPOWER SYSTEM. IT PAYS ANGLERS FROM $5 TO $8 PER QUALIFYING FISH, WITH SPECIAL REWARDS FOR TAGGED ONES. (PIKEMINNOW.ORG)

“A little off pace for the coveted $100 large,” the Northwest Sportsman writer emailed me in July, “but who knows. I might hit a hot streak.”

True, that’s a far cry from how good the top rods did on the Lower Columbia, but as it turns out, the waters down here were 2018’s unexpected hot spot.

“It is the first time in the Pikeminnow Program’s 28-year history that the Cathlamet station has been the number one location,” noted Eric Winther, who heads up the state-federal effort aimed at reducing predation on salmonid smolts. “Just when I thought I had it all figured out.”

The season wrapped up this past Sunday for the year with 25,135 pikeminnow turned in at the Wahkiakum County seat — a whopping 8,000 more than any previous year back through at least 2000, and nearly as many as 2017 and 2016 combined.

The Snake River’s Boyer Park station produced the second most, 22,950, a bit of a dip over the previous season, but notably, catch at the third-place station, The Dalles, was less than half of 2017’s, with just 22,461.

Cathlamet accounted for 14 percent of the overall catch of 180,309 pikeminnow this year, a bit above average over the average since the program began in 1990.

Winther says that pikeminnow anglers do best in low-water years, but this season began with high flows. The Dalles got off to a very slow start after the program opened in May due to spring runoff that tamped down catch rates at traditionally the best station and led to its regulars fishing elsewhere.

“Despite less favorable river conditions, fishing success was slightly better this year — 7.5 catch per unit effort vs. 7.4 in 2017), although overall effort was down about 2,000 angler days,” he says. “Basically, even though there were some challenging river conditions early in the season, there were also some opportunities, especially in the lower river below Ridgefield and near the Cathlamet station.  All in all, a good solid year, slightly above average.”

So what the heck did make the Lower Columbia so good for anglers?

“My theory on the increased Cathlamet pikeminnow catch is this:  We had a long, hot, dry summer, as you know,” Winther says. “Tributaries in the Lower Columbia were lower and warmer than usual and oxygen levels were also likely lower than normal. This made many of the tribs somewhat inhospitable for both northern pikeminnow and for the many critters that they eat (crayfish, etc.).  Since a lot of our catch from that location was smaller northern pikeminnow, I think that maybe there were a bunch of those tributary pikeminnow that dropped down into the mainstem.”

He notes that August and September are usually the best months on the lower river and that top anglers typically target specific hot spots during peak months.

“We also had a lot of effort at Cathlamet in 2018 and many of our regular anglers had their best ever harvest totals this year. In the end, I think that maybe 2018 river conditions just brought a lot of our top 20 anglers to the lower river at the same time of year as when a lot more of these tributary pikeminnow had dropped into the Columbia. Then high catch rates begot more effort which resulted in even higher catch rates and more effort,” Winther theorizes.

Changes at Boyer Park also pushed its regulars to fish elsewhere and that probably helped too, he thinks.

Average daily catch for registered anglers across all stations was 7.5, with Ridgefield leading with 15.9, followed by Lyons Ferry, 10.9, Rainier and Boyer Park tied at 10.1, Beacon Rock, 9.6, and Cathlamet, 9.0.

The Pikeminnow Sport Reward Program pays anglers from $5 to $8 per qualifying fish, with $500 for tagged ones.

The season’s top moneymaker earned $70,949 by turning in 8,686 pikeminnows. The second highest tally was $49,529 for a fisherman who brought in 5,898.

Program managers remind registered anglers that they should turn in their vouchers by Nov. 15 to receive payment for their catches.

Records also show that fishermen incidentally caught 15,094 smallmouth, 10,527 yellow perch, 5,510 catfish and bullheads, and 1,297 walleye. The upper Snake pools were best for bass, the Lower Columbia was tops for yellowbellies, the Richland area was best for whiskerfish and John Day area was best for ‘eyes.

SW WA, Hanford Reach Fishing Report (10-1-18)

THE FOLLOWING ARE WDFW FISHING REPORTS FROM BRYANT SPELLMAN AND PAUL HOFFARTH

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Mainstem from the mouth upstream to McNary Dam

  • From the Buoy 10 line upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco:
    • Closed to angling for and retention of salmon and steelhead.

AUSTIN, LEXI, BRITT AND CORBIN HAN POSE WITH A FALL CHINOOK RECENTLY CAUGHT NEAR TRI-CITIES. IT BIT A SUPERBAIT WITH TUNA BEHIND A PRO TROLL FLASHER TROLLED DOWNSTREAM. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Elochoman River – No anglers sampled.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 25 bank rods kept 9 coho jacks and released 1 coho jack.  14 boats/33 rods kept 8 coho, 25 coho jacks, 1 steelhead and released 15 chinook, 1 chinook jack, 3 coho, 6 coho jacks and 1 steelhead.

Above the I-5 Br:  41 bank rods released 12 chinook and 1 steelhead. 5 boats/13 rods kept 1 steelhead and released 3 chinook.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 986 coho adults, 2,251 coho jacks, 375 fall Chinook adults, 89 fall Chinook jacks, 86 cutthroat trout, 42 summer-run steelhead adults and seven spring Chinook adults during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power released 107 coho adults, 174 coho jacks and two spring Chinook adults into the Cispus River near Randle, and they released 120 coho adults, 68 coho jacks, and two spring Chinook adults at the Franklin Bridge release site in Packwood.

Tacoma Power released 389 coho adults, 1,251 coho jacks, 86 fall Chinook adults, 34 fall Chinook jacks, and six cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, and they released 210 coho adults, 640 coho jacks, five cutthroat trout and three spring Chinook adults into Lake Scanewa in Randle.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,540 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Monday, Oct. 1. Water visibility is 14 feet and the water temperature is 54.8 degrees F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility.

Kalama River – 10 bank anglers had no catch.  2 boats/5 rods kept 4 steelhead and released 1 steelhead.

Lewis River – 69 bank anglers kept 1 chinook jack, 2 coho, 1 coho jack and released 5 chinook, 3 coho and 1 coho jack.  15 boats/39 rods kept 4 chinook and released 19 chinook, 9 chinook jacks, 1 coho and 1 coho jack.

Wind River – No anglers sampled.

Drano Lake – 15 bank anglers released 1 steelhead.   91 boats/231 rods kept 78 chinook, 33 chinook jacks, 10 coho, 2 coho jacks and released 3 chinook, 3 coho and 5 steelhead.

Klickitat River – 97 bank anglers kept 51 chinook and 16 chinook jacks.

  • Deep River:  Effective September 24, 2018 Deep River reopens to salmon and steelhead angling under permanent rules.
  • Youngs Bay, Blind Slough and Knappa Slough: Effective September 24, 2018 Youngs Bay, Blind Slough and Knappa Slough reopens to salmon and steelhead angling under permanent Oregon regulations.
  • Cowlitz River:  Effective September 22, 2018 closed for Chinook retention from the mouth to the Barrier Dam including all lower Cowlitz tributaries, except the Toutle River.  Until further notice, the closed waters section below the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery Barrier Dam is 400’, at the posted markers.
  • Washougal River, including Camas Slough:  Effective September 22, 2018 closed for Chinook retention from the mouth to the bridge at Salmon Falls.
  • Wind River:  from the mouth to 400’ below Shepherd Falls, closed for steelhead retention and closed to night fishing for salmon and steelhead.
  • Drano Lake: Effective Sept. 29, 2018 until further notice.  The daily salmon limit remains 6 fish total, of which only one may be an adult.  Drano Lake remains closed to night fishing for salmon and steelhead and closed to retention of steelhead.
  • White Salmon River:  from the mouth to the county road bridge below the former location of the powerhouse, closed for steelhead retention and closed to night fishing for salmon and steelhead

STURGEON

From the mouth of the Columbia River upstream to McNary Dam including adjacent tributaries – Until further notice, white sturgeon open for catch and release fishing only. Fishing for sturgeon at night is closed.

……………………………

The Hanford Reach fall salmon fishery opened August 16. Angler effort continues to increase as well as harvest. There were 5,046 angler trips taken for salmon in the Hanford Reach this past week. WDFW staff interviewed 2,087 anglers this week. Based on the data collected, 2,043 adult chinook and 208 jacks were harvested bringing the season total to 4,411 adult chinook, 398 jacks, and 10 coho. Anglers averaged 13 hours per per fish (1.2 fish per boat), 50% increase compared to the week prior.

An in-season estimate was generated for the Hanford Reach wild return based on fish counts through September 30. An estimated 38,357 wild (natural) origin fall chinook are expected to return to the Hanford Reach. Base on this estimate harvest would be limited to ~6,500 adult chinook, leaving roughly 2,000 adult chinook remaining in the quota. Sunday, October 7 will likely be the final day of the fishery between the Hwy 395 bridge and Priest Rapids Dam.

From Highway 395 to Priest Rapids Dam the daily limit is 6 fall chinook, no more than 1 adult fall chinook. Anglers must stop fishing when the adult limit is retained. Anglers can use two poles if they have the two-pole license endorsement.

The Columbia River from Highway 395 to the old Hanford town site wooden powerline towers opened October 1 to the harvest of Ringold Springs origin hatchery steelhead. Steelhead released from Ringold Springs Hatchery are adipose fin clipped and right ventral fin clipped. The daily limit is one adipose + right ventral fin clipped steelhead. This unique mark (clips) allows these steelhead to be differentiated from upper Columbia River and Snake River steelhead and allows these steelhead to be selectively harvested.

WDFW 2019 Hunting Regs Cover Contest: ‘Field To Feast’ Pics, Recipe

Get your phones, digicams and 35mm’s ready, Washington hunters.

“From Field to Feast” is the subject of WDFW’s annual hunting regs cover contest.

THE EDITOR AND A FRIEND DRAG OUT AN OKANOGAN COUNTY BUCK. (MIKE ARMSTRONG)

It’s a three-part photo assignment, according to an email sent out by the agency this morning, and as you might expect it involves an image of your kill in the field and a pic of its meat on your plate.

The third element is the recipe you used to create the dish.

“While hunters go out in the field for different reasons, we know that many of you hunt as a way to put food on the family table. The complete hunting experience, from field to feast, brings friends and families together far beyond the initial harvest,” says WDFW.

VENISON BACKSTRAP (UPPER LEFT, LOWER RIGHT) ALONG WITH BEEF AND PORK DECORATE A MEAT PLATTER PREPARED FOR A FAMILY CHRISTMAS DINNER AT MY IN-LAWS HOUSE IN OREGON. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Indeed, whether it’s sea salt-and-rosemary-rubbed venison backstrap, duck jerky, Hasenpfeffer, elk larb (check out the October issue’s Chef in the Wild column!) or the ridiculously delicious garlic mule deer heart John made at Deer Camp last October, sharing the bounty of Washington’s woods and marshes is what it’s all about.

Past years’ contest themes include hunting camp, passing the tradition on, backcountry, inner strength and others.

WDFW says it’s looking for high-resolution images and short paragraphs providing details about each photo as well as include the recipe.

Send yours to photocontest@dfw.wa.gov. Deadline to enter is March 1, 2019.

The winning entry will appear on 2019’s pamphlet while others may appear on the agency’s social media accounts, according to WDFW.

Second O.P.T. Wolf Shot, WDFW Now Evaluating If Removals Change Depredating Pack’s Behavior

Washington wolf managers say they shot and killed a second member of the cattle-attacking Old Profanity Territory Pack and will now evaluate whether that changes the behavior of the northern Ferry County wolves.

A PAIR OF WOLVES USE A LOGGING ROAD IN NORTHERN FERRY COUNTY. (CONSERVATION NORTHWEST)

“If WDFW documents another livestock depredation and confirms that it likely occurred after today’s action, the department may initiate another lethal removal action following the guidelines of the Wolf Plan and 2017 Protocol,” the agency said in a late-afternoon statement.

According to that, the wolf that was killed was an adult and is believed to have been the breeding female.

Helicopter-borne state staffers report seeing one other wolf, an adult male, during air operations, and they believe there is one other juvenile in the area.

The OPT wolves are blamed for 12 cattle depredations on federal grazing land in the Colville National Forest this month.

“The livestock producer who owns the affected livestock continues to use contracted range riders to monitor his herd, is removing or securing livestock carcasses to avoid attracting wolves to the rest of the herd, is using foxlights at salting locations in high wolf use areas, and is removing sick and injured livestock from the grazing area until they are healed,” WDFW reported.” The majority of the producer’s livestock will be moved off federal grazing allotments to adjacent private grazing lands by mid-October.”

On Sept. 16, following Director Kelly Susewind’s incremental lethal removal authorization for up to two wolves, one juvenile was killed.

The pack is believed to have initially numbered five or six, with three or four adults and two young-of-the-year animals.

Tacoma-area Seafood Buyer Sentenced To Jail, Must Pay $1.5m For Illegal Sea Cucumber Buys

It’s not your typical poaching case, but the owner of a Tacoma-area seafood processing business was sentenced today to two years in prison for buying and selling 250,000 pounds of sea cucumbers illegally harvested in Puget Sound in recent years.

SEA CUCUMBER FROM PUGET SOUND’S SARATOGA PASSAGE. (PFLY, FLICKR, VIA WIKIPEDIA)

Hoon Namkoong of Orient Seafood Production of Fife, “one of the leading wholesale buyers of sea cucumbers” in Washington, must also pay the state and tribes $1.5 million in restitution.

That figure is equal to how much the 62-year-old’s company profited from selling the echinoderms to other businesses in the U.S. and Asia between August 2014 and November 2016.

“This defendant lined his pockets by purchasing and selling illegally harvested sea cucumbers equal to as much as 20 percent of the total allowed statewide harvest,” said U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes in a press release. “This illegal activity damages the health of the Puget Sound ecosystem by endangering the sustainability of the sea cucumber population. Illegal harvesting undermines quotas designed to protect the resource and keep the Sound healthy for our children and generations to come.”

We first reported on the case in June 2017 when the joint state-federal investigation came to light through a WDFW Director’s report.

State fish police had begun investigating Namkoong’s company in late 2015 and found that the poundage of sea cucumbers being purchased from tribal and nontribal divers was “often as much as 40 percent more than was documented on catch reports (fish receiving tickets).”

Falsifying fish tickets and illegally selling natural resources is a violation of the Lacey Act.

A federal sentencing memorandum terms Namkoong “the hub and common player among at least four non-tribal fishers and more than thirty Lummi tribal fishers who conspired to cheat the system,” and says he “profited far more richly from the scheme than any of his co-conspirators.”

According to court documents, the value of the sea cucumbers has risen from $2 a pound 25 years ago to $5 a pound today with the rise of demand. Namkoong was buying product for $4.50 a pound with cash or checks.

The activities came at a time that concerned fishery managers were lowering quotas for legal harvesters due to sea cucumber declines, but the illegal picking was actually increasing.

“It is no wonder, then, that we have failed to see signs of recovery as a result of the work of sea cucumber managers and the sacrifices of the lawfully compliant harvesters. Because we do not see recovery signs, we are forced to continue to reduce harvest. Therefore, the illegal activity continues to threaten the sustainability of the fishery and results in direct economic damage to lawful harvesters and seafood buyers,” wrote WDFW’s Henry Carson, who was the state manager when the poaching was taking place, in sentencing documents.

The case has led to friction between fishery overseers.

“The illegal harvest scheme has damaged the complex relationship between state and tribal managers, policy makers, and enforcement,” Carson wrote. “The disagreements have not only been between tribes and the State, but also among tribes.”

According to a federal sentencing document, nontribal divers involved in the scheme “received suspended or converted prison sentences for felony convictions (or in one case a gross misdemeanor),” while tribal divers “were charged with civil infractions.”

“Despite not regularly fishing for sea cucumbers … the alleged illegal harvest has caused harm to our tribes and may continue to do so for years to come,” wrote Randy Harder of the Point No Point Treaty Council in sentencing documents, adding, “Damage done to the resource could stretch out for years.”

 

Most Willapa Bay Tribs Opening For Coho; Siuslaw’s Lake Creek Closing to Salmon Fishing

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EMERGENCY RULE-CHANGE NOTICE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE AND A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Action:  Opens salmon in Willapa Bay tributaries with scheduled salmon seasons, except the Naselle River. Salmon daily limit is 6 fish, up to 2 adults may be retained, and no more than 1 adult may be a wild coho. Release all chinook.

WILLAPA BAY TRIBUTARIES EXCEPT THE NASELLE WILL OPEN FOR COHO FISHING OCT. 1. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Effective date: Oct. 1 until further notice.

Species affected:  Salmon.

Location:  Bear River; Fork Creek; Middle Nemah River; North Nemah River; South Nemah River; North River; Smith Creek; Willapa River; Willapa River; South Fork.

Reason for action:  WDFW previously closed these areas to salmon fishing to protect fall chinook, which were returning in lower numbers than expected. Over the past week, active brood stocking efforts conducted by hatchery staff and volunteers have been significantly increased, making it likely that hatchery production goals for fall chinook will be met on the Willapa and Nemah river systems. Additionally, the proportion of females in the broodstock collected in these systems is higher than expected.

Returns of fall chinook needed for hatchery production in the Naselle River system are still short of the production goal. The Naselle River will remain closed to salmon fishing.

Retention of fall chinook is prohibited in all fisheries in the Willapa Bay watershed as a conservation measure in order to focus harvest opportunity on coho.

Additional information: Gamefish seasons remain as scheduled in the Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet.

…………………..

Lake Creek (Siuslaw River tributary) closed to salmon fishing Oct. 15-Dec. 31

SALEM, Ore.—Lake Creek, a tributary of the Siuslaw River, will be closed to salmon fishing from Oct. 15-Dec. 31. No salmon fishing will be allowed from the mouth of Lake Creek to Indian Creek.

The closure is due to this year’s low stream flows, which will concentrate fall Chinook salmon in just a few locations, making them more vulnerable to harvest. The forecast for Chinook salmon is poor this year, and Chinook in the Siuslaw basin are not expected to meet Pacific Salmon Treaty escapement goals.

“Lake Creek is the largest producer of fall Chinook in the Siuslaw basin, and it’s important we conserve these fish during low stream flow and low return years,” said John Spangler, ODFW District Fish Biologist.

For more about regulations and fishing opportunities in the Northwest Zone, see the Recreation Report, https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/northwest-zone

 

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Snohomish System Coho Fishing Closing Or Under Hatchery-only Restrictions

Updated 11:32 a.m., Sept. 27, 2018

State fishery managers are closing a large portion of traditionally one of the strongest coho systems in Western Washington due to a low return of wild fish.

THIS ONE KINDA HURTS — THE SNOHOMISH RIVER, WHERE JON PULLING CAUGHT THIS COHO WITH GUIDE JIM STAHL (LEFT) A FEW SEASONS BACK, WILL CLOSE FOR SALMON FISHING AS OF SEPT. 29 DUE TO A LOW RETURN OF WILD SILVERS. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

The Snohomish River, Snoqualmie River and Skykomish River above the mouth of the Wallace River will close to salmon fishing effective this Saturday, Sept. 29, according to an emergency rule-change notice out from WDFW this morning.

“In-season run size updates indicate that the Snohomish wild coho run is lower than the pre-season forecast. These measures are needed to protect future runs of coho by increasing chances wild spawner escapement goals are met,” the agency stated.

The Skykomish from its mouth to the Wallace and the Wallace, where hatchery coho are headed, will remain open but only for adipose-fin-clipped silvers.

If fish numbers improve, there’s a chance the rivers could reopen, according to WDFW. On Facebook, anglers were reporting good numbers in the system, and state catch stats showed strong saltwater catches in early September.

In the background is a move earlier this year by the National Marine Fisheries Service that listed Snohomish coho as an “overfished” stock.

That’s a determination that means “the stock is depressed and signals conservation concern.  Under these conditions, a rebuilding plan must be developed to improve the escapement, generally rebuilding the stock within 10 years,” according to NMFS.

Escapements during a recent three-year period fell short of goals, triggering a recommendation that harvests be reduced. Federal, tribal and state biologists are working to understand the reasons why the run has been weaker, the agency says.

In the meanwhile, last Sunday marked the last day to fish for coho off the mouth of the Snohomish, Marine Area 8-2, and Sunday is the final day for waters further out, Areas 5, 6, 8-1 and 9.

This year has seen a number of lower than expected returns due to recent years’ ocean conditions and drought, including Columbia River Chinook and steelhead, Willapa Bay kings, and Cowlitz and Washougal Rivers fall Chinook, leading to closures or reduced limits.

WDFW also today announced that the limit on adult salmon in Drano Lake was being reduced to one a day.

At least one closure, however, was in part to try and collect more fall king eggs to benefit orcas in future years, Samish Chinook.

In 2016, when the Snohomish system was closed from the outset of the season, managers were able to open fisheries in mid-October when it became apparent there were enough returning.