July 25, 2014

Action Alert: Show Your Support for Recreational Angling and Hatchery Steelhead

Please see below for an action alert sent out by Washington Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Chair Sen. Pam Roach and Washington Senate Natural Resources & Parks Committee Chair Sen. Kirk Pearson on the recent settlement between the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and the Wild Fish Conservancy regarding the release of hatchery steelhead in the Puget Sound. 

On July 29, 2014, the Washington Senate Natural Resources & Parks Committee will hold a hearing to discuss the recent settlement on Puget Sound steelhead hatchery programs agreed to by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and an anti-hatchery group.

This anti-hatchery group, the Wild Fish Conservancy, fails to recognize and/or blatantly dismiss the value in a well-managed hatchery system. The recent settlement reached between WDFW and the anti-hatchery crowd will severely limit steelhead fishing opportunities in the Puget Sound, as it will end nearly all releases of Chambers Creek hatchery steelhead, only allowing them to continue if the federal government (which has been very slow to process state hatchery plans) approves each program after conducting a scientific review. The federal court settlement also bans the planting of hatchery steelhead in the Skagit River system, one of Washington’s most popular and productive steelhead streams.

The hearing will include presentations from numerous affected parties, including recreational anglers and businesses, Puget Sound tribes, WDFW, NOAA Fisheries, and the Wild Fish Conservancy. This is an excellent opportunity for Washington’s recreational angling community to show its support for well-regulated hatchery programs and the immensely positive impact they have, and to voice its opposition to agency decisions that continue to impede recreational fishing in Washington.

How you can help: Attend the hearing and express your support for:

• WDFW’s use of evidence-based strategies that meet recreational angling needs while protecting native fish species.
• Reforming WDFW management to recognize and prioritize recreational fishing and its many benefits.
• Fishery management policies that are developed in an open process by those entrusted to manage natural resources for the public, not policies developed and agreed-to by attorneys in backroom deals under the threat of lawsuits.
• WDFW taking steps to solicit feedback from the recreational angling community prior to making decisions that limit access to fishery resources.
• The timely consideration of Hatchery Genetic Management Plans (HGMPs) submitted by WDFW to NOAA Fisheries.
• Washington’s recreational angling industry, one that according to WDFW, generates approximately $1.1 billion annually and supports nearly 15,000 jobs in the state.
• As state funding continues to decline, WDFW’s ability to manage and conserve our fish populations is highly dependent on revenue from the sale of recreational fishing licenses.

Date: July 29, 2014 at 10:00 am
Location: Senate Hearing Rm 1, J.A. Cherberg Building
304 15th Ave SW
Olympia, WA 98501

Please see below for additional information on the hearing, including a press release from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW); an op-ed from Sen. Pearson on the settlement; and the agenda for the July 29 committee hearing.

WDFW and Wild Fish Conservancy settle lawsuit over ‘early winter’ hatchery steelhead releases
The Podium: Steelhead program a beacon for economic activity on the Skagit
Senate Natural Resources & Parks Committee Hearing Agenda

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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