The Leader’s story, “Lawsuit over Southeast Alaska fisheries makes waves locally,” covered Wild Fish Conservancy’s (WFC) misguided lawsuit which has serious implications for …
The Leader’s story, “Lawsuit over Southeast Alaska fisheries makes waves locally,” covered Wild Fish Conservancy’s (WFC) misguided lawsuit which has serious implications for Port Townsend residents like myself who participate in Southeast Alaska’s commercial salmon troll fishery.
Particularly troubling are some of WFC’s misleading and erroneous statements about Southeast’s troll fishery and our impacts on the Southern Resident killer whales and Northwest-bound Chinook.
Emma Helverson from WFC is quoted as saying, “NOAA admits in their bio-op that the level of harvest is too high... the harvest levels are not sufficient to meet the needs of killer whales.” That’s not what NOAA said in its biological opinion and does not follow what experts have told the court, including Lynne Barre, who has led the Southern Resident killer whale recovery program at the National Marine Fisheries Service since 2002.
To the contrary, Barre points out in her October 2022 written declaration that WFC oversimplifies and overestimates the impacts of shutting down Southeast’s troll fishery, failing to account for the mobility of both Chinook and orca populations and their fluctuating migratory pathways. Barre also points out that what WFC is pushing — shutting down Southeast’s troll fishery and the Chinook hatchery program — would result in a net reduction of prey available to Southern Resident killer whales.
When not fishing, I advocate for wild salmon and engage the public in efforts to safeguard salmon and support projects to restore salmon habitat such as taking down the four lower Snake River dams. Science has shown that addressing major habitat issues in the Pacific Northwest would have the most positive impact on local salmon and orca populations.
History has shown us that allocation battles won’t save salmon. Instead, we need to fight together for the healthy ecosystems that salmon and orcas need to survive and thrive.