OLYMPIA -- In an unanimous vote, the Washington Fish and Wildlife
Commission today committed Department of Fish and Wildlife fish managers to
implementing the principles of a Wild Salmonid Policy developed over months of
negotiations with treaty tribes.
It also directed the Department of Fish and Wildlife to follow additional policy
guidance on science-based conservation principles. The policy guidance document
addresses areas that the state and tribes agreed to defer or where agreement was
incomplete. The additional guidance will be used statewide by WDFW fish biologists as
they negotiate implementation plans to restore wild salmon and steelhead stocks at the
watershed level in consultation with individual tribes, other governments and the public.
Lisa Pelly, the commission's chairperson, said she hoped tribal agreement on
the proposed state-tribal Wild Salmonid Policy would be reached in the near future.
"The commission and Department of Fish and Wildlife will continue to work
closely with the tribes to resolve remaining issues so we all can get on with the daunting
challenge of rebuilding these wild fish runs," Pelly said.
She added, "I feel both sides are very close to agreement on a Wild Salmonid
Policy. It will be a real breakthough in our efforts to restore wild runs while we still
provide fishing opportunities."
Billy Frank, chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, said, "The treaty
Indian tribes in western Washington and the state Fish and Wildlife Commission have
worked hard to develop a joint Wild Salmonid Policy. Today's action by the Fish and
Wildlife Commission is another positive step toward completing development of a joint
Frank added, "The working relationships developed over the past several
months of negotiations have resulted in a strong, new commitment to cooperative
co-management between the new Fish and Wildlife Commission and the treaty tribes in
Bern Shanks, director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the policy, with
the additional guidance, gives the department the tools it needs to begin the long
process of building runs that have been in decline for decades.
"We are all part of the problem and we are all part of the solution," Shanks said.
"Restoration is going to require sacrifices from everyone. No one wants his or her
children to go to museums to see wild salmon."
He added the department will continue to release millions of marked hatchery
fish that will provide the foundation for on-going commercial and recreational salmon
fishing. Hatchery fish will be marked by removing their adipose fins, which are located
on the back just forward of the tail.
As it waits for tribal action on the proposed Wild Salmonid Policy, the
Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission members said they passed a resolution to
begin the rebuilding process while discussions with the tribes continued because
someone had to take the first step. Highlights of today's commission resolution include:
- Extension of the draft Wild Salmonid Policy to the governing bodies of western Washington's treaty tribes for adoption or for passage of resolutions that will lead to adoption in the near future
- Adoption of the additional policy guidance for WDFW employees
- Implementation on a unilateral basis of the principles of the Wild Salmonid Policy and the additional departmental guidance until the tribes' issues are resolved.