The State of Washington's Senate gets this years
OOPS AWARD of 1999. I know
it's awfully early in the year to give our this prestigious award,
but I doubt that anything or
anyone can top this one.
Our friend, Mike Croft, author, cartoonist,
and fly fisherman extraordinary emailed a copy of the following
to me. I read it twice, printed it out, read it again as my blood
pressure shot upward. I cannot imagine a more wrong attitude
than the one shown in the following. Before I taint your view
of it, read it for yourself. The bold face is mine - it didn't
come that way. And do keep in mind, it's not just Washington
targeted here. Your state could be next!
SENATE BILL 5104
State of Washington 56th Legislature 1999 Regular Session
By Senators Haugen, Swecker, Spanel and Fraser
Read first time . Referred to Committee on .
AN ACT Relating to CATCH AND RELEASE recreational fisheries;
adding a new section to chapter 77.12 RCW; and creating a new section.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. The legislature finds that the practice of
establishing exclusive catch and release recreational fisheries on
steelhead trout by the fish and wildlife commission requires that the commission
commit significant resources to assure that these fisheries are not
subject to ABUSE BY UNKNOWING OR UNCARING ANGLERS.
In addition, the commission shall not authorize catch and release seasons or areas that may harm
steelhead trout reproduction by authorizing fishing on spawning beds and
for spawning fish.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 2. A new section is added to chapter 77.12
RCW to read as follows (1) Sufficient enforcement capability is assigned to the fishery
to assure angler compliance to the rules;
The commission shall not authorize catch and release fisheries
for steelhead trout unless all of the following conditions are met
(2) There must be an angler education and certification program
administered by the department to establish an individual certification
for each angler that participates in the fishery. The certification shall
attest to the competency of the angler for proper methods of releasing
steelhead unharmed, angler ethics, anadromous fish identification, and
other educational needs for the development of responsible anglers;
(3) A daily limit must be placed on
the number of steelhead that
can be caught and released;
(4) A plan must be developed and implemented to limit the number
of days a week that an individual angler may participate in steelhead catch and
release fisheries throughout the state;
(5) A proposal must be submitted to the legislature at the
beginning of the 2000 legislative session for increasing the penalties for retaining
steelhead in a catch and release recreational fishery;
(6) A proposal must be submitted to the legislature at the
beginning of the 2000 legislative session that allows for increased
angler fees for participation in a steelhead catch and release fishery. The fees will
compensate the commission for the additional costs necessary for the
proper management of a catch and release steelhead trout fishery;
(7) A steelhead catch and release mortality study must be
conducted by the department in order to assess the rates of steelhead mortality during a
catch and release fishery. The commission shall supervise the study to
assure that at least one aspect of the study shall assess the affects of
warm stream conditions on the survival of released steelhead; and
(8) Catch and release fisheries may not be authorized for
spawning steelhead trout under any circumstances.
In the event that the commission cannot comply with all of the
statutory requirements for the management of a properly conducted steelhead trout
fishery, then the commission shall not authorize any steelhead trout
catch and release fisheries within state waters.
This is the tip of the iceburg.
Washington has major fisheries problems. A battle for
power between the Fisheries Commission, the folks who
work for them, the Governor who would like to be able to
appoint as political favor the head of fisheries. Ongoing
fights with the tribes and recreation fishers.
Notice I did not mention the commercial
netters. There is no battle there, the state and commission
will always put those interests first. And neither of them
put fish first! (They did have a man in charge who did, Bernie
Shanks and they got rid of him.) And then there is the matter
of the Feds breathing down their necks on listing most of
the state's salmon as threatened or endangered!
The other problem is the recreational fishers who
say, "don't shut down fishing, make it catch and release."
Follow along for a minute. Two years ago
a new Washington law was passed which made it illegal for hunters to use
dogs to hunt cougar. It passed big time. Backed by guess who?
PETA! You have to understand the most populated area of
Washington is on the west coast, and very liberal.
It didn't take long for the results of
that law to show up. In about a year the cougar population
had expanded into the fashionable neighborhoods and the
state was forced to hire 'state hunters' WITH DOGS
to try and control the cougars. So instead of having people
buy licenses and hunt the cougars, the taxpayer pays the
state hunters to do what citizens were paying the state to do.
But make no mistake, PETA paid for
the campaign - and won. I don't personally know the four
senators who sponsored this bill. I do know PETA is
Here is what really scares me. When
a state attempts to pass a law regulating Catch and Release
fishing, the door is wide open. If you have any question
where that door leads, I implore you to read
Mike Connors article a few months ago on Ethics. Read the
whole thing. Carefully. Then let me know if you see the handwriting
on the wall.
Violators in Washington are not caught,
much less prosecuted. In an small area with a population of
a half-million there is ONE enforcement officer. People 'fish'
with huge treble snagging hooks in closed areas. Illegal nets
are throughout the Puget Sound waters. Numbers on illegal
boats have been painted over so they can't be
reported. Calls to report violations go unanswered. Photographs
of violations and violators are called "inadmissable" because a
consersation officer did not take them. Spawning fish
are targeted. Illegal by-catch is sold in public. Or the
new one - given to food banks, so illegal by-catch is ok! It
goes on and on.
But this state is going to have a Catch and
Release Recreational Fisheries Program! Ya right! This has
got to be the biggest snow job in history.~ Deanna Birkholm
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