Monday, February 14, 2011

Wild Steelhead Coalition on Puget Sound Closures

From the WSC website.

As many of you have heard by now the rivers around the Puget Sound will close even earlier than expected due to low wild steelhead returns. Jim Scott, assistant director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) said that pre-season estimates developed by WDFW last fall indicate that wild steelhead will return in numbers far short of target levels. The closures are necessary to meet the conservation objectives of WDFW’s statewide steelhead management plan and comply with provisions of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), he said. “We’re closing these rivers early because of conservation concerns,” Scott said. “With low numbers of wild steelhead expected back, we need to take this action to protect those wild fish that do return.”

While it is a continuing bitter pill to swallow the Wild Steelhead Coalition supports the ruling as a measure to conserve wild steelhead in Puget Sound , but we continue to request the WDFW to look beyond closures as a means to conserve and recover wild steelhead. We hope this will be an increasing call for more participation in steelhead advocacy and not simply allow cynicism to cloud our thinking. No doubt this closure will result in more effort on the coastal streams and provide increased pressure on the wild fish in those systems, which are also in a downward trend. We request that anglers look beyond just simply moving their fishing efforts over to other opportunities, but step up into conservation efforts and hold the WDFW accountable to developing more conservation based steelhead management plans that focus on recovery and abundance rather than harvest allocations. Here are five actions you can take to help recover wild steelhead:

Thank You,
Jim Schmitz

V.P. Membership
The Wild Steelhead Coalition

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