Sunday, June 19, 2011

Basic Beliefs - Fundamental Conservation of Our Cold Water Fisheries

I don't know if over the five years of this blog's existence I've actually stated my core beliefs on the conservation of wild salmonids. If I have then you can skip this. If I have not then here is what I believe. I am not a scientist or fish biologist but these fundamentals are sound and common sense.
I came by these fundamentals through research on my part and being taught by people who know a hell of a lot more than me. To me conservation is not a passing fad or a word thrown out there at a whim as is the case with groups like the CCA and Northwest Steelheaders. Conservation is action and these groups fall short on the most basic issues of wild salmonid conservation.They say they are all about wild fish but in reality they are all about more fish to kill and will support wrong headed hatchery programs. 
I believe the key to wild salmonid recovery has to start with competent management of the resource. If the stewards of our wild fish are not totally committed to their preservation and enhancement then the whole thing fails.
I believe that if a population of wild trout or salmon is endangered or not fully recovered then there should absolutely be no harvest or use of bait allowed. If a particular population is at a critical stage and in danger of extinction then no angling whatsoever should be allowed....none! No catch and release at all.
Habitat restoration is another key ingredient to the overall well being of wild salmonids and major efforts should be made to preserve critical spawning and rearing habitat. Removal of woody structure from these spawning areas should not be allowed and in fact placement of new structure should be enhanced.
In no way should hatchery salmon and trout be allowed to commingle with wild populations. The effect of careless hatchery programs such as Oregon's steelhead broodstock program have adversely affect wild fish.
Wild fish and hatchery fish can co-exist in the same watershed if the hatchery plants are keep out of wild salmonids spawning and rearing areas and these hatchery plants are planted at a time of year when they would interfere with wild salmonids.
This is no conjecture or theory on my part but proven fact.

Wild salmon, steelhead and trout should be allowed to have recovered for a period of years before any harvest regulation is even considered.
Angler education should be mandatory for anyone buying a resident fishing license. Too many times the fish and wildlife agencies of any given state fail to properly teach anglers about wild fish. I think even minimal effort and commitment from the state can go a long ways in helping our wild fish resource.
There are so many obstacles in the way of wild salmonid recovery that we cannot begin to scratch the surface of what to do but to do nothing will be fatal.
I think that most people will do the right thing if they are properly informed and armed with the tools to do their part in wild fish recovery.
The ignorant, slob fisherman is the exception rather than the rule. These are the people who are not satisfied unless their freezers are full of dead salmon and salmon eggs.
So there you have it! The wild salmonid gospel according to Shane. I think these steps are doable and with a minimal cost but a maximum commitment from our state fish and wildlife agencies is necessary to bring this about. I do strongly believe, however, recovery begins with each of us that call ourselves anglers.

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