February 1997 – Issues & Opinion
So much happened during the 2 days the meeting was held in Port Townsend, Washington, that I cannot report it all. Or even most of it. So just the highlights, please.
Day one. The first item on the agenda:
(after every body on the Commission congratulated every body in Fish and Game Management, and vise versa)
was the PYGMY RABBIT PROBLEM.
I personally gave up listening when it became apparent that no new recipes or special sauces for pygmy rabbit were going to be discussed, however, that aside, it seems these critters need a new expanded homeland. It seems the land is owned by Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and in order to secure some 600,000 acres or so for them, the Wildlife Management must purchase the property at fair market value from the DNR. So, to do so there must be an increased budget allocated to Wildlife to buy the property.
The idea of simply transferring management from one state agency (DNR) to another (Wildlife) at no cost was totally foreign. Do you get the idea? Does anyone wonder why government is so expensive these days? A number of other programs in Wildlife management will have to be either curtailed or eliminated to accomplish this modern miracle. But then some group made the case for potential Listing and, viola, it passed in a flash.
The second or some other number item on the agenda:
Steelhead Sport harvest on the Soleduc River.
There was much testimony from Staff about hook placement and mortality associated with catch-and-release. I could be wrong here, but as close as I could tell the argument was to reopen the river on a catch-and-release basis.
However, there was something else about, if they opened the river to increased regular fishing, the increased pressure would drive the stock down. Then again, someone testified about daily trips to the river for a personal experimental catch-and-release. They said something like, "we played the fish all day or until it tired, and it was just fine when we released it". The Commission then commented, “yes, but what would the mortality be if thousands of people caught the same fish on the same day?” OOPs.
There were the expected pleas to keep the river open because of the wonderful experience it provides for wealthy sport types and guides, the whole usual crowd. Somewhere in here the whole sport mentality of: ‘who cares if it’s endangered, I’ll catch the last one and be proud of it’ surfaced. Conservation’s fine, as long as it doesn’t apply to them.
Then some one raised the question of by-catch in the fishery. It seems there is one, and it is Dolly Varden. Staff was asked how many Dolly were in the River. Answer: "We don’t know." Staff was asked if there was any problem with increased Dolly harvest beyond the unknown number problem. Yes, it seems that there is some sort of bullhead in the river which is Listed, and the only way to tell it from a Dolly requires having ‘a degree’ from U.B.C. in Canada. OOPs again. River closed.
Wash. Fish and Wildlife Commission Hearing Report – Day 1 – Sport Issues.
Wash. Fish and Wildlife Commission Hearing Report Day 2 – Commercial Crab Issues.
Wash. Fish and Wildlife Commission Hearing Report Day 2 – Commercial Salmon Issues.