Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sustainable Steelhead?

An interesting post on the Patagonia site about the Seafood Summit in Vancouver got me thinking about ways to work with tribal fishers and work around the current lack of action coming from WDFW.

Here's a quote from the above link:
"But, citing Patagonia’s experience with the cotton industry, Chouinard also talked about market-based solutions that work with harmful industries to force improvement from within. Still more grumbling, but it set a tone that made for lively discussion throughout the week. There seems to be strong agreement among many of the conservation NGOs I spoke with that the kind of market-based solutions Chouinard is promoting are by far the most effective way to create positive change. Certainly something to be hopeful about."

Could a market based solution be helpful in increasing steelhead runs?  I do not have the exact answer but it might be time to take a chance and change the dynamic.  Could non-profit groups work with the tribes to allow the non-tribal 50% to be used however we wish, including increasing spawning abundance?  Could we work to make sure fishing plans are in place before seasons begin?  Could we work to reduce interception on early timed fish and restore lost diversity?

It might be possible by using a carrot instead of a hammer.  Could tribes on rivers managed for steelhead abundance be allowed to sell their steelhead as "sustainable"?  With the decline of stocks all along the west coast and no steelhead stock currently defined as sustainable by any organization, could this allow tribes who work with non-governmental conservation organizations to sell their product without the protests and also sell it for a higher price.

Of course, selling this to the angling public will probably be just as hard as selling it to the tribes.  Wild steelhead are a holy grail of NW angling and many would like to see zero harvest on all sides of wild steelhead.  In my dreams I would like to see this too.  Of course, the reality is that the tribes will continue to net and sell steelhead commercially.  We will continue to send letters and e-mails to restaurants and fish buyers who buy wild steelhead.  This will continue and continue with wild runs continuing to decline.  It might be time to work with the tribes to create a situation that is perfect for neither side but might hold more hope for more steelhead than trusting WDFW to do anything to actually increase wild runs.

Something to think about at least.

1 comment:

  1. Last time I was on the Hoh the talk of the town was that one of the two gill netters who worked the river was in jail for involuntary manslaughter, having killed a passenger in a wreck while he was loaded on drugs and booze. The only other gillnetter on the Hoh at that time was also a known drunk and worked sporatically. I would bet money these douche bags would take a fistful of dollars each season instead of working. Why can't these jackoffs be bought out??