WA Coast Steelhead Meeting As Wider Conversation Continues
Editor’s note: Due to technical difficulties, a new link to the TVW broadcast of tonight’s Washington Coast steelhead town hall has been issued. The link has also been updated in our Monday story, below.
Washington Coast winter steelhead are the subject of a virtual town hall Tuesday evening from 5-7, with stock assessments, monitoring and possible 2021-22 season regulations all on the agenda.
It will be held via Zoom, broadcast on TVW and joinable by phone at (253) 215-8782, meeting ID: 868 6681 2895.
The effort marks a more proactive approach from state fishery managers as they involve anglers and communities much earlier in the process than last year, with two more town halls and a November briefing of the Fish and Wildlife Commission still to come ahead of December’s season announcement.
Last season saw unprecedented restrictions – including boat and bait bans – to protect wild runs below spawning escapement goals on most systems from Raymond to Forks.
When all was said and done, goals were not met on Willapa Bay, Chehalis, Humptulips, Upper Quinault and Queets/Clearwater systems, but were on the Quillayute and Hoh.
Meanwhile, another chapter – three actually – in a wider ongoing conversation about steelhead up and down the West Coast was posted today by the Wild Steelhead Coalition.
Wild Steelhead: Now or Never offers a stark assessment of the current state of the stocks: “terrifying.”
This year has seen summer steelhead collapses from British Columbia’s Skeena and Thompson to the Inland Northwest to Oregon’s North Umpqua.
To the list of four broad factors that have led to declines, the second chapter adds a fifth “H” – heat due to the “growing impact of Climate Change on anadromous fish ecosystems” from sea to sky.
And in the third writer Greg Fitz, in collaboration with fellow WSC members, offers “marching orders” to steelheaders to become far more involved than just posting our latest catches to social media and calling that our connection to the fish.
“In the 21st Century, being a steelheader must mean being an advocate and a conservationist as much as being an angler. It must mean prioritizing ecological restoration, sacrificing for long-term recovery, and rebuilding by giving back more than we take. Above all, it must mean working together with other anglers, advocates, tribes, and conservationists to hold agencies, managers, and politicians accountable for our clean, cold, free-flowing rivers and wild fish on a scale that’s never been done before,” he states.
We can argue till the cows come home about the myriad boogeymen contributing to run declines, but Now or Never provides plenty to mull about the future and doing more to protect and restore the runs as we also close in on a decision about winter steelhead 2021-22 on Washington Coast streams.
Correction: An earlier version of this blog incorrectly compared preseason run forecasts with spawning escapement counts for the 2020-21 coastal return.