I Swear … Group Lying Again About WA Chinook Management

A disinformation campaign attacking Washington’s state-managed Chinook fisheries is trolling a couple more whoppers this week.

Swear Off King Salmon’s Jennifer Ashton McCausland claimed in a Seattle Times opinion piece yesterday that the Columbia was “just opened to expanded Chinook fishing for the spring run.”


It was not, and the spring Chinook fishery on the big Washington-Oregon river was actually closed back in late May.

And her organization’s Facebook and Instagram pages today claim that “pressure from environmental groups” led to this season’s near-total closure of hatchery summer Chinook fishing on the Skykomish, a Snohomish River tributary.

It did not; WDFW announced its decision back in May, before the ridiculous campaign even began, and there’s also no record in WDFW’s public comments of any such pressure from enviros about said fishery.

McCausland – who works for the Center for Humane Economy and is described in a reporter’s recent book as “a rich Australian émigré with a passion for classical music, politics, and wolves” who hosted a fundraiser for Governor Inslee at her Lake Washington mansion – and Swear off King Salmon kicked off their campaign against WDFW fisheries back in mid-May by trying to “fillet” the agency over its alleged liberalization of Chinook fisheries.

It backfired spectacularly.

That’s because, in reality, WDFW is just one of many stakeholders including the Oregon, Idaho and California departments of fish and wildlife, numerous tribes, the National Marine Fisheries Service and others involved in setting West Coast fishery proposals that are then reviewed for Endangered Species Act compliance and ultimately signed off on by the secretary of the federal Department of Commerce. WDFW just can’t make a unilateral decision like that.

As for the Columbia, what actually opened last week was fishing for summer Chinook, an unlisted stock returning to Washington’s Upper Columbia region and managed with Oregon and regional tribes under different parameters than the spring run.

And with Sno/Sky wild Chinook, in limiting the 2023 river season for hatchery fish to three late May days, WDFW was reacting to a host of factors, from expected higher Canadian interception of salmon bound for the system to a series of down returns in recent years and new guidelines in 2022’s Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan, agreed to with tribal comanagers.

Either understanding the complexities of Washington’s Chinook fisheries management is not Swear Off King Salmon’s strong point, or it is and they are willfully, purposefully misleading the public about how WDFW is going about it.

Their latest claim feels kneejerk and it does come right on the heels of Seattle Times reporter Isabella Breda’s in-depth story about the actual reasons behind why the Skykomish is closed for kings. It includes quotes from a couple WDFW officials.

Interestingly, a late April KING 5 story on Washington’s sustainably managed nontreaty commercial coastal troll fishery for Chinook also drew immediate hisses from that side.

Swear off King Salmon and others claim to be trying to preserve Chinook as forage for struggling southern resident killer whales.

Yet we’ve already pruned fisheries back 80 to 90 percent, and there hasn’t been a corresponding increase in their numbers.

Meanwhile, SOKS supporters like Wild Fish Conservancy and Washington Wildlife First are trying everything they can to scuttle increased hatchery salmon production for the orcas as habitat work slowly comes on line for wild salmon populations to eventually take advantage of in the decades ahead.

With their exceedingly narrow diet choice of Chinook, SRKWs Simply. Do. Not. Have. That. Kind. Of. Time.

I swear, this is all not that difficult to grasp, but here we are.