Sunday, October 25, 2009

WDFW Proposes to Further Limit Catch and Release Angling Opportunity

As a part of the 2010 rule change proposal cycle, WDFW will be closing most rivers in the Puget Sound area February 15th. With populations of wild steelhead in the region continuing to decline, the department is concerned about the impact of directed fisheries on wild stocks. As sport anglers it is critical that we acknowledge our impacts and most sport anglers seem willing to make sacrifices if it gives wild fish a reasonable chances of recovery. Unfortunately, the state seems unwilling to make far more substantial changes to hatchery and harvest policy.

Certainly, catch and release sport fishing has an impact on depressed populations but if these stocks are so depressed that they can no longer support incidental mortality how can the department possibly justify the impact of the millions of fish they are dumping in Puget Sound. In the skagit alone hatchery plants of all species have averaged over 1 million fish per year over the last decade, depressing freshwater productivity and in all likelihood contributing to extremely low marine survival observed in the region recently.

So yes, lets do our part as anglers. But it is time that we DEMAND reform from our state fish and wildlife agency. The status quo is a recipe for further declines in our once abundant populations of wild fish. We have to act now and let WDFW know that we want substantial reductions in the magnitude and number of hatchery programs in Puget Sound, because if wild stocks are so fragile that they cannot sustain the modest impact of catch and release angling they certainly cannot be expected to sustain the substantial impacts of industrial scale hatcheries. Stay tuned for more information.

Sign our petition today demanding that the state take real, substantive steps towards recovery that go beyond just limiting fishing.

Show up for the Nov 6th commission meeting and let your voice be heard. See the blog post below for more information.

Rule Change Proposals for 2010.

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