Editor’s note: We received the URGENT request for help from the Wild Steelheaders United team at Trout Unlimited. If you can, please submit a comment in support of the new rules for the Olympic Pensinsula fisheries.
We’re sorry for the last-minute request, but if we want to fix the failing status quo and prevent our fisheries from closing completely, we could really use your help TODAY, before at 1 p.m. PST. In short, new regulations have been introduced that need our support.
To help, all you need to do is send an email. Background, and email details are all below.
Earlier this week, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced emergency conservation rules for the upcoming winter steelhead season on Washington’s coast, including the Olympic Peninsula, Grays Harbor, and Willapa Bay fisheries. These new regulations include no fishing from boats, a bait ban, the use of single-point barbless hooks, and no retention of rainbow trout, and are set to change, coastwide, on Monday, December 14.
These new rules were developed over the past few weeks by WDFW staff after public comment and numerous meetings with stakeholders.
We do understand that these new rules come as a surprise to many in our community, but given the four options provided by WDFW, including full closure to ending seasons early, these new regulation changes provide the only option that reduces angler impacts and keep steelheaders on the water.
It is the best option for both steelhead and anglers.
WHAT WE NEED FROM YOU:
Today (Dec. 11), the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Fish Committee is holding a special session on from 1 – 3 p.m. PST, where WDFW Fish Program staff will brief the committee on coastal steelhead long-term trends, the 2020/2021 forecast, and the management actions they plan to take to meet conservation objectives and fishing opportunity. They will also be accepting public comment on the topic during the meeting.
Please email the WDFW Commission before tomorrow’s meeting. In the email, please express your support for these new regulation changes.
In your own words, tell them:
- You support the proposed new regulations
- Reducing angler impacts will allow for more time on the water and decrease the likelihood that fishing seasons will need to be shortened or eliminated for conservation reasons
- You appreciate this is a major undertaking to reverse course on these coastal steelhead populations and that some rules are controversial among some anglers, but that fact does not diminish the need for change
- Reversing these regulations will increase the likelihood of an Endangered Species Act-listing for wild steelhead on the coast and will jeopardize fishing opportunity in future years, including the rural communities that depend on the sportfishing industry
- Reversing course will greatly erode trust with tribes and set back any conservation gains WDFW staff has made in recent years with the co-managers
Deadline: Please send your comments before 4 p.m. EST/1 p.m. PST, TODAY! Optional: If you would like to attend the Fish Committee meeting and provide public comment, please pre-register for the Zoom meeting here.
Send your email to: [email protected] or use this form here.
Thank you in advance for your prompt help with this!
Jonathan Stumpf and the Wild Steelheaders United team at Trout Unlimited