Current NOAA review of the Washington steelhead hatchery program could be the death of Washington’s steelhead fishery
12/08/2015 – J. W. Snyder – NWFN
IF YOU FISH FOR STEELHEAD IN WASHINGTON, TAKE ACTION NOW! WE NEED TO JOIN TOGETHER AND CONTACT NOAA SO THAT OUR VOICES ARE HEARD! LIKE AND SHARE THIS POST WITH EVERYONE YOU CAN. THE LIFES BLOOD OF THE WASHINGTON STEELHEAD SPORT FISHERY IS AT STAKE!
Here is a letter from Dave Croonquist, Vise President of Puget Sound Anglers Peninsula Region courtesy of Steelheader.net
Good afternoon all,
I rec’d the following informational sheed and link about the importance providing input to NOAA Fisheries about the plans to keep some sort of a hatchery steelhead program available on 5 Puget Sound rivers, including the Dungeness River. This effort is supported by Puget Sound Anglers, Coastal Conservation Association, and the Steelhead Trout Club of Washington. Your comments need to be rec’d by December 28, 2015.
Please send an email before Christmas to the National Maine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regional directors listed below, asking that they complete by April 1, 2016 their reviews and final approvals, of early winter hatchery steelhead programs for the Dungeness, Nooksack, Stillaguamish, Skykomish, and Snoqualmie rivers:
- Mr. William W. Stelle, Regional Administrator, NMFS, west Coast Region EWShatcheriesEIS.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ms. Robyn Thorson, Regional Director, USFWS, Pacific Region Robyn_Thorson@fws.gov
The loss of Puget Sound winter hatchery steelhead production will lead to further attacks on salmon hatcheries as is occurring at the Leavenworth National salmon hatchery, the result of litigation by Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC). Consequently, salmon anglers must also engage now with the steelhead hatchery issue to protect your future salmon fishing opportunities.
The National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under provisions of the National Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act, are currently reviewing five steelhead hatchery programs benefiting the Dungeness, Nooksack, Stillaguamish, Skykomish and Snoqualmie River basins. This review and approval of the programs must be completed in time to allow hatchery steelhead smolts to be released into these river systems by no later than May 1, 2016, or risk permanent loss of the early winter hatchery steelhead fisheries. Failure to release by May 1 would result in no subsequent adult broodstock to continue hatchery production.
In a 2014 Federal District court settlement to a lawsuit filed by WFC, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife agreed to stop releasing early winter steelhead hatchery fish until Hatchery Genetic Management Plans (HGMPs) for each of the cited river basins had been approved by the NMFS. A 45 day public review of a NMFS draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) assessing the HGMPs is scheduled to be completed on December 28, 2015.
NMFS will begin working on the final EIS in January.
However, the time the federal agencies say they need to complete the final EIS and other documents could delay actual approval of the steelhead smolts releases well into May or even June, especially if litigation is pursued by WFC and/or other groups. This would be too late to save the hatchery steelhead programs.
Consequently, an expedited effort is required to reduce the current planned federal processing time by a month, if the early winter hatchery programs are to be continued following a careful review by the public and the approving federal agencies.
Our sport fishing/conservation organizations ask that you join us in demanding that the NMFS and USFWS regional directors expedite their reviews and approvals of the steelhead hatchery programs so that the steelhead smolts are released into the rivers by May 1, 2016.