Commission adopts new policy on state's hatcheries and fisheries
OLYMPIA - The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission today voted to adopt a new state hatchery and fishery reform policy designed to accelerate recovery of wild salmon and steelhead while also supporting sustainable fisheries.
The new policy, which has been under review by the commission and the public since last spring, establishes guidelines for realigning state fisheries and hatchery programs to meet conservation and harvest goals for salmon and steelhead in each watershed.
The commission, a nine-member citizen panel that sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), based its guidelines on recommendations issued by a group of scientists created by Congress in 2000 to review Washington’s hatchery system, which is among the largest in the world.
The new policy is intended to provide clear direction for WDFW, which has already begun to incorporate recommendations by the independent Hatchery Scientific Review Group (HSRG) into its hatchery-management practices.
Key provisions of the new policy, available on the commission’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission, call on the department to:
Increasingly focus state commercial and recreational fisheries on the harvest of abundant hatchery stocks to support sustainable fisheries and reduce the number of hatchery fish spawning in rivers.
Develop and promote alternative fishing gear to maximize the catch of hatchery-origin fish with minimal mortality to native salmon and steelhead.
Improve the fitness and viability of wild salmon and steelhead runs by working toward a goal of meeting HSRG broodstock standards in all state hatchery programs by 2015.
Integrate hatchery-reform initiatives into comprehensive action plans designed to meet conservation and harvest goals for specific watersheds throughout the state.
The policy adopted by the commission also directs WDFW to seek necessary funding "from all potential sources" to implement these hatchery-reform measures, expand selective fisheries and ensure state facilities comply with standards for fish passage, water-intake screening and pollution control.
In Other News:
Wild steelhead advocates in Oregon are waiting patiently for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to take a positive stand to protect wild steelhead. They have been waiting for years now, but there has been no interest on the part of the department staff or commission.
The department recently told the public that it has decided to abandon its advocacy to kill wild winter steelhead on the North Umpqua and their threat that to start a new hatchery program on that river. They did say they would begin a coastal steelhead plan that would include a kill fishery for North Umpqua wild winter steelhead. So the public secured a stay of execution for these wonderful fish.