WDFW Skrews The Pooch Again! They lost 70% of the smolts from a Cowlitz rearing pond!

Discussion in 'Northwest Fishing' started by coastal steelheader, Jan 23, 2017.

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  1. coastal steelheader

    coastal steelheader
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    Unbelievable...:mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad:
    A couple of questions occurred to me while reading the article.
    1) Was anyone actually in charge of watching these ponds? If so didn't anyone kinda, sorta, maybe notice that predatory birds had access to the enclosures, or that 70% of the fish were missing?
    2) Did anyone report the problem early on and take measures to fix the problems?
    3) Who is actually in charge of the day to day operations of these ponds, and why haven't they been FIRED!!



    WDFW Admits Losing 514,500 Fish in Cowlitz
    Missing Fish: Losses Will Begin to Be Felt During 2018 Summer Run

    Between Saturday and Sunday, unknown suspects cut nets holding about 100,000 growing salmon, releasing the fish into the lake, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Of the roughly 625,900 steelhead and 90,600 cutthroat smolt reared by the Cowlitz Trout Hatchery for release in 2016, roughly 514,000, or about 70 percent of the stock, went missing prior to release.

    Posted: Friday, January 20, 2017 11:42 pm
    By Jordan Nailon / jnailon@chronline.com | 1 comment
    After months of rampant rumors and speculation coming off of the Cowlitz River, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has finally confirmed what many area anglers had feared.
    Of the roughly 625,900 steelhead and 90,600 cutthroat smolt reared by the Cowlitz Trout Hatchery for release in 2016, roughly 514,000, or about 70 percent of the stock, went missing prior to release.
    Those losses are likely to have a negative impact on the summer steelhead runs of 2018-2019 as well as cutthroat returns as early as this summer.
    To make matters worse, the WDFW says it doesn’t know where exactly the fish went. Theories to explain the huge losses include bird predation, disease, escape from rearing pens and wildly inaccurate and faulty counting equipment.
    On Jan. 9, the WDFW quietly released a fact sheet detailing the historic loss of steelhead and cutthroat trout. On Thursday afternoon, WDFW policy coordinator for the Columbia River, Cindy Le Fleur, spoke with The Chronicle in order to more thoroughly address the situation.
    “We’ve not seen anything like this before,” said Le Fleur, who was the only WDFW representative made available for comment.
    Numerous attempts to speak on the record with hatchery managers and WDFW biologists were refused and instead passed along to Le Fleur's office over the past month. At one point, when The Chronicle asked if the animals had died, an official from WDFW said no, but provided no additional information about the missing fish.
    The loss of more than a half a million fish that would have begun making returns to the Cowlitz River in the summer of 2017 comes on the heels of another loss of about 100,000 fall Chinook salmon smolt in May 2016 when a net pen in Lake Mayfield was vandalized, allowing the fish to escape. This time around, though, there was no nefarious outside act to help explain the loss of more than half a million hatchery fish that fuel the most popular fishery on the Cowlitz River.
    On the phone, Le Fleur broke down the numbers provided in the fact sheet even further, noting that of the 202,000 summer-run fish released in the Cowlitz River in 2016, about 183,600 are believed to have been steelhead, with the difference being made up by about 18,600 cutthroat trout. Although she was confident in those numbers, Le Fleur was entirely unsure of where the bulk of that vanishing 2016 stock went.
    The cause that the WDFW seems to believe is most plausible is mass bird predation. The tiny fish are reared in lakebound net pens and are essentially captive targets for hungry birds. Le Fleur said that avian predation has been a known problem for some time, so preventative measures are already undertaken. However, she noted that the efforts are by no means comprehensive and added that since this year’s losses are unprecedented, there was little indication that increased protection was needed.
    Le Fleur said that the protective bird netting at the rearing pens is not complete and allows for persistent and particularly piscatorial inclined birds to gain access to the fish. Le Fleur noted that Tacoma Power, which owns the hatchery as part of required mitigation efforts for wild fish losses caused by dams on the Cowlitz River, employs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to perform bird harassment operations around the pens. However, those actions are not performed continuously so the birds are free to return when the harassment agents leave. Le Fleur said that there has been talk of stepping up those harassment efforts to include lethal measures on some birds.
    “Tacoma is looking into that,” confirmed Le Fleur, who noted that she does not have a firm handle on the regulations pertaining to the harassment of wild birds since different species are subject to different protections from state and federal agencies.
    Le Fleur also placed at least some of the blame on smolt counting equipment that she said is known to be largely inaccurate.
    “I don’t think it’s reliable, like if two fish go through at the same time. The counting equipment just isn’t perfect,” said Le Fleur. She also noted that lake debris such as sticks and grass sometimes wind up being incorrectly counted as fish.
    Le Fleur stated that counting equipment is imperative to getting a handle on how many fish are reared and released each year but admitted that she is not sure where or when the fish counting equipment used by WDFW was purchased or if it is the most accurate option available on the market.
    “We can’t count them in the lakes. What we do is we count them, and it’s an electronic fish counter, when they leave, when they are released. That’s part of the problem is you can’t know how many are in there at any give time. They’re in these great big lakes,” explained Le Fleur. “I think the lakes are fairly deep and I don’t know if you can see your way through it. They are not your typical raceways that are long skinny ponds that are maybe four or five feet deep or something.”
    Because of that inability to keep tabs on the fish while they are still in the lake rearing pens, it is unknown precisely how long the missing smolt had been missing before the discrepancy was discovered in June.
    The fact sheet provided by Le Fleur noted that her department, which is contracted by Tacoma Power to undertake day to day operations at the hatchery, is currently working with the power company to figure out what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening in the future.
    So far, Le Fleur says that the actions taken to prevent additional losses to hatchery stock include improved netting and increased bird hazing to include all daylight hours.
    “Tacoma Power is in the process of doing an evaluation on the trout hatchery for a rebuild so all of those discussions will be a part of that, including possibly even redoing the lakes,” said Le Fleur.
    Those future efforts could include nighttime patrols, shoreline pond covers to deter Blue Herons, and lethal action against some birds. The fact sheet noted that Tacoma Power is currently working to obtain a contract for the lethal bird hazing and anticipates having that program in place no later than fall of 2017.
    Fully netted and covered rearing ponds are expected to be in place within the next three to six years.
     
  2. Sstrand

    Sstrand
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    "currently working with the power company to figure out what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening in the future."

    Ahhhhhhh, Yes . . . The mantra of any bureaucracy . . . Be responsible for a problem and then ask for more time, people, and money to "search" for some elusive solution which ALWAYS remains just beyond reach!!!!!!!

    Sheldon
     
  3. Caveman Jim

    Caveman Jim
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    GDMNIT!!!!!
    Just more incompetent employees in WDFW!!!!!
     
  4. Mister Bisley

    Mister Bisley
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    It's interesting and ironic that a department that is included in the responsibility on the regulation of licenses and creel limits and enforcing those subjects, would lose so many fish.

    Of course birds predate on fish, it's exclusively part of some birds diet....been that way loooooong before these bureaucracies started licensing, regulating and fining.

    Meanwhile, I can't get an OR in-state fishing license until I have lived here six months, which will be in April, even though I was a taxpayer to the state in 2016. What the falafel?!
     
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  5. Brutus57

    Brutus57
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    Yeah, its not like fish hatcheries haven't been around for close to a century or more and anti-bird nets SHOULD have already been in place. Who pays the bill if Tacoma Power gets hammered for failing in their mitigation efforts...???The poor civvies who get PSE power....

    Dumb bastidge bureaucrats, plain and simple.:mad: Wasting tax and license dollars.


    Brutus Out
     
  6. Mister Bisley

    Mister Bisley
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    But but but the answer is MORE TAXES and MORE REGULATIONS
     
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  7. jbett98

    jbett98
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    I met a scientist that specialized in fish habitat biology and he was employed by the Army Corp of Engineers up in Bonneville Dam.
    His sole purpose was to counter any and all claims brought up against the fish ladders and hatcheries.
    He made huge sums of money drafting reports and charts showing how well things were run by the agencies.
     
  8. Slobray

    Slobray
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    This totally justifies the increase in license fees.


    Ray
     
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  9. scrandall01215

    scrandall01215
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    Everyone involved with those fish should have been fired immediately! Period!!!
    But of coarse they wont. :(

    Stacy
     
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  10. jbett98

    jbett98
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    They'll probably get promoted.
     
  11. Caveman Jim

    Caveman Jim
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    It always is, WDFW want a significant increase in license fees for a promise of more opportunities. This is the same BS just a different time.
    Here in region 6, fish managers managed paper fish by giving the netters the escapement quotas until they were caught and the head honcho moved to Olympia & he was promoted!!!!!:mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad:
     
  12. Sgt Nambu

    Sgt Nambu
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    IDIOTS!!! :(
     
  13. Caveman Jim

    Caveman Jim
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    The only reason that hatcheries were devised was that the commercial fishing industry nearly wiped out all the fish in the PNW. Just like the loggers said they could never cut the last tree but by God they damn near did!!!
    Since the mid 80's there was a serious decline in numbers of returning fish although it was found that the numbers of smolts released had been cut significantly by fish managers due to cost cutting measures.
    Nowadays the same fish managers are pushing junk science from biased studies about hatchery fish spawning with wild fish. There are no wild native fish on rivers that have dams IMHO. So in their Infinite wisdom they have decided to plant even less Hatchery fish for the sportsman to catch. I don't know about you but this just does not make sense, we're paying more money for less opportunities. It's always been that way and it will never change until we tell them enough we've had it screw you.
    One of the major factors that has kept me here in the Pacific Northwest has been the fish and game, I got into this the first year I came to Washington back in the mid-eighties. The way it is now it is not worth it for me to pursue my love of salmon & steelhead in this state.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
  14. jbett98

    jbett98
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    I sure wish they'd get the gill nets off the Columbia.
    Let the rich guys in New York come and catch their own if they want to eat Springers.
     
  15. Caveman Jim

    Caveman Jim
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    Tried that and Oregon commission voted for the netters!!!!:mad::mad::mad:
    It will happen next year.
    I would like that Washington will sue Alaska and Canada for intercepting 48-50 % of all fish returning to the Chehalis watershed.

    We are held to managing 1/2 of the fish that does make it here and that is not acceptable!!!! It's not fair that ocean fisheries take what is there and can devastate the runs in riversome & streams in Wa & Oregon!!! :mad::mad::mad:
     
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