Friday, January 02, 2015

The Harvest Mentality Revisited

"Let's raise the daily bag limit from two wild cutthroat trout to three fish daily"   

"I like to kill a few wild trout a year"

 "Fill the rivers with billions of hatchery steelhead"

 "Native Fish Society and Trout Unlimited are conspiring to get hatcheries closed"

The above quotes are all from the internet. People wanting to kill fish, any fish wild or hatchery.
The need for people to kill their catch has spawned (no pun intended) websites and fishing groups dedicated solely to harvest!
I'll dispense with all the rhetoric about just how harmful hatchery salmon, steelhead and trout to native salmonid spawners. It's all out there and all you have to do is a little research and I have even provided links in other posts to that end.
I am going to try to examine the harvest mentality.
The need to kill your catch is probably an instinct brought forth from our hunter/gatherer past. The need to provide food for the survival of our families was necessary in the pre-Costco days. The state fish and wildlife agencies have, for over a hundred years, artificially populated out rivers with fish to harvest. These fish are present in the rivers of the Pacific Northwest to harvest and they should be harvested.
All of the sudden the well is running dry and with the Endangered Species Act the state cannot dump millions of hatchery smolt into our river in order to sate a growing population of anglers.
But what about all the fish I am entitled to? I need those countless jars of cured eggs so I can catch more fish to get more eggs to get more get the idea.
Even when there are increased bag limits and increased hatchery releases it never seems to be enough!
The market for salmon roe alone is a booming business along with the latest and greatest egg cures. Cure recipes are closely guarded secrets and are not cheap. The need for more fresh eggs drive the desire to harvest.
 Then there is the annual fights over spring Chinook allocations which are epic in that the primary user groups can never seem to get enough of these most valuable Chinook salmon.
The chest thumping fishing narcissists self publish books on "how to catch more salmon and steelhead" while the angling public wants more and more. Hey how about self publishing a book about the virtues of catch and release of wild fish or how best to protect our wild, cold water fisheries?
The department of fish and wildlife's mantra of angling opportunities to get the public to buy fishing licenses while offering an inferior product while they marginalize wild fish populations by allowing a limited harvest on native salmonids that they deem recovered enough to kill a few.
I could spend hours writing about all I have seen and experienced concerning the tapeworm that infects fishermen to hunger for more fish, to have more fish planted for them to harvest and to hell with any conservation efforts.
 One has to come to the conclusion that the harvest mentality is very real and getting worse. Native fish advocacy groups are generally vilified and slandered for their efforts by those desiring to harvest more fish! Some even make up lies about groups like Trout Unlimited and Native Fish Society.
Once again I want to stress that the harvest of hatchery origin salmonids is a good thing. Those fish are expensive to rear and they are raised for harvest. A fisherman should be required to harvest every hatchery salmon or steelhead he encounters no matter the condition. Get them out of the river so they cannot comingle with wild fish. However the effect of over production of hatchery fish is one cause of dwindling native fish population. The actual overall effect is something that is hotly debated among anglers and wild fish groups.
Remember this though. The world is not our oyster and I may actually see the extinction of some fish species in my lifetime.

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