According to the Wild Fish Conservancy press release: “Wild Fish Conservancy, The Conservation Angler, the Federation of Fly Fishers Steelhead Committee, and the Wild Steelhead Coalition served legal notice that they would file suit against the Olympic National Park, NOAA Fisheries Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife under the federal Endangered Species Act.” Adds one of the group’s leaders, Will Atlas, chair of the FFF Steelhead Committee: “The reality is that the annual release of four million hatchery fish means that the Elwha will not reach its potential. In the rush to harvest the abundant hatchery fish we will be repeating the mistakes of the past, depressing the productivity of the habitat we fought so hard to restore.”
That is to say, all of the same hubris, greed and stupidity that has emanated since the Boldt Decision fwd on all sides (and specifically its “foregone opportunity clause”, via the continued application of 1950’s-era fisheries management practices, and a grab-it-all mentality amongst many stakeholders is continuing. All of which invariably means the same anemic returns that grace the Skykomish, the Nooksack and the Stillaguamish, etc., are now coming to the Elwha.
And the leverage of a federal lawsuit with a clear ESA strategy is likely the only way this is going to be circumvented. There are boatloads of folks in the NW whose livelihoods are tied to business as usual, who are going to squawk and cry about this. The hatchery industry is massive, the tribal legal budgets are big and many of the well-meaning salmon “restoration” groups in the NW have sipped deeply of hatchery Kool-Aid (and the attendant dollars) for decades. This is all now coming to a head. About time.
With dozens of streams in the NW struggling to maintain laughable hatchery returns at incredible cost (at a time we are shuttering schools, closing parks, and furloughing cops and firemen), we finally have a chance to get this one right.
And if you are ever headed out there, the corner store at the exit in Pshyt, usually has cheap cold cases of Lucky Lager. Nightcrawlers and Buzz Bombs sold seperately.