Numbers Don’t Add Up | Tribal Catch Questioned

As any of our regular readers will know, 2016 Coho season in Puget Sound was anything but typical. A dire early-season Coho forecast, collapses during season setting negotiations, and eventually a surprisingly strong Coho run after all. We wanted to analyze the resulting Tribal and Sport fisheries, and on October 21st, 2016 we made a public records request for copies of the Puget Sound Tribes fish tickets. Four months later (Feb 24), after a number of twists and turns, we received the data and have begun our analysis.

One of the first fisheries we wanted to study was the Lake Washington Coho run. This run offers a unique baseline in Puget Sound — annual fish counts conducted at the Ballard Locks. Combined with other data sources like the sportfishing creel counts, Issaquah Hatchery counts, and even buoy water temperature data, we set out to reconstruct what happened in the 2016 fishery.

What we found simply doesn’t add up… In the end, after much analysis, we find a preponderance of the evidence indicates that the Tribal catch reports, specifically the Muckleshoot Tribe reports, are questionable. Not only did an unexpectedly large number of hatchery fish disappear en-route to the Issaquah Hatchery, but the patterns exhibited in the submitted catch reports are inconsistent with the known run size and shape.

Let’s dive into the details…

Ship Canal Fisheries

Due to closures in the Straits and Sound last year, the first significant fisheries that Coho returning to the Lake Washington system encountered was when they rounded Meadow Point and headed into Salmon Bay. The first fishery — the Suquamish gillnet fishery — takes place in the ½ mile stretch between Ray’s Boathouse and the Ballard Locks. The second fishery — the Muckleshoot gillnet fishery — takes place in the 4 ½ mile stretch between the locks and Ivar’s Salmon House on Lake Union.

Our first step was to compare the reported catches between these neighboring fisheries to see if they correlated. These fisheries occur sequentially in the Ship Canal, within a golf shot of one another, using the same gear, so we expected similarities. What we found for September is summarized in this chart:

The Suquamish catch reports (in Red) resemble the overall shape of the counts taken at the locks, and begin to soften as September ends. Aside from data missing on Saturdays (17th and 24th of Sept) we find the Suquamish data to be credible. On the other hand, the Muckleshoot fish ticket data (in Blue) falls short of credibility by comparison to the Suquamish catch, or when contrasted with the significant numbers of fish counted at the locks in mid-late September. The Suquamish reported 2601 fish caught for September, the Muckleshoots just 306. Again, the Muckleshoot fishery is just upstream from the Suquamish and had 10 times the waterway length to deploy nets.

Additionally, the Muckleshoots reported catch on only 7 days of the 15 days they had nets in the water in September, and 9 of 24 total days the Ship Canal fishery was open overall. That means over 62.5% of the days they were netting the Ship Canal, there are zero reported fish caught for their entire fleet of boats. This doesn’t pass any reasonable test.

But the Ship Canal is just part #1 of the fishery, let’s move upstream…

Lake Washington Fisheries

RECREATIONAL: The recreational fishery on Lake Washington has a well-deserved reputation for being unproductive for anglers. Creel count data from this year (Sand Point and Kenmore ramps) backs up that reputation, averaging only a single fish per 7 angler trips. Combined creel counts at Sand Point and Kenmore launch ramps show a total of 152 fish total caught for the season. These ramp fish checks provide an accurate count of only a subset of fishermen, as not all boats will exit through the monitored ramps and monitoring wasn’t round the clock. Based historical exploitation rates, we estimate the creel counts captured only 40% of the actual sport catch, but to be sure we’re not undercounting, we’re setting the creel counts at just 25% of the sport catch — yielding a total of 608 sport-caught coho.

TRIBAL CATCH: In addition to their Ship Canal fishery, the Muckleshoots took the unusual step of setting nets in Lake Washington this year. We characterize this as an unusual fishery because we’ve scoured the records back to 2008, and have not found a similar lake opening for the Tribe. Of particular concern is that this was one of the very few areas open for salmon sportfishing in 2016, and the nets presented a significant gear-conflict for recreational fishermen. In any case, the Tribe gillnetted the Lake for 7 days, but fish ticket results show catch reports for only the first 5 of those days, which is troubling. The reports we do have show a catch of 2658 fish taken in the Lake.

These in-lake recreational and Tribal fisheries are the last the Coho would encounter en-route to the hatchery, so we now have a picture of the run. Let’s see how these numbers all add up…

Checking the Numbers

Combining the sport (608) and both Muckleshoot fisheries (Ship Canal at 450, Lake Washington at 2658) we can now account for 3716 fish caught upstream of the locks. That number is a problem — and to understand why, let’s drill a bit deeper into the data gathered at the Ballard Locks.

It turns out that annual locks counts do more than just count the fish, they also record the percentage of marked fish which are bound for the Issaquah Hatchery. Last year, the total count of 18,779 fish was a mix of about 88% Issaquah hatchery fish mixed with 12% wild fish born naturally in feeder streams within the system. So at the moment the returning fish passed the locks, 16,500 (88%) of them were destined for the Issaquah hatchery. The problem is that only 3905 of those 16,500 fish arrived there. Somewhere between the locks and hatchery 13,000 fish disappeared, yet we can only account for 3716 caught based on the reported fishing activities.

Worse, of those reported caught, 12% of those fish (supported both by locks count and re-verified in recreational creel counts) were wild fish, so at this point we’ve actually only managed to account for 3270 of the 13,000 hatchery-bound fish that disappeared. That’s roughly ten thousand Coho who should have made it home, but didn’t. Which brings us to the next part of our story…

The Case of the Missing 10,000 Fish?

How could 10,000 fish have disappeared? We’ve explored the possibility of “strays” and freshwater mortality due to high water temperature. Could these have played an unusual role in the 2016 run? Our short answer is we don’t see any evidence that 2016 was unusual.

  • Water temperatures (Lake Washington Buoy) in Mid-September 2016 were lower than in 2013 and 2014, and both of those years saw dramatically higher percentages of fish returning to the hatchery. In fact 2013 and 2014 were two of the highest temperature years recently and both saw very high rates of return to the hatchery. We don’t see a correlation between lake water temperature and fish returning to the hatchery.
  • Strays? While some percentage of fish surely stray somewhere between the locks and the hatchery the percentage would seem to be relatively low historically. In recent years we’ve seen runs where impacts from Tribal & Sport fishing, freshwater mortality and strays combine for less than 30% mortality (2009-19%, 2011-28%).
  • We believe a historically reasonable rate of up to 15% of the run could have been strays + freshwater mortalities. This could only account for 2,500 of the missing 10,000 fish. 

So what happened?

We still are left with thousands of fish that we can’t account for. We think there are only two plausible explanations for what happened last year. Either the fish counts at the locks were inaccurate or the Muckleshoot Tribe reports understate their actual catch by a significant amount.

We believe a preponderance of the evidence indicates that that the Muckleshoot reports are inaccurate/understate their catch significantly. The following indicators all support this assertion:

  1. Divergence of those reports from the locks counts patterns-both 2016 and historical.
  2. Divergence of those reports from the Suquamish catch report patterns just downriver.
  3. Lack of reporting on more than half the days the ship canal fishery was open.
  4. Average catch reporting of 18.75 fish/open day for the entire Ship Canal fleet (often 10+ fishers) fails any basic economic analysis. Captains would never fish these openers for less than 2 fish per boat per day.
  5. Extraordinary 2016 effort: There were 24 days open for fishing in the Ship Canal, and 7 days open (overlapping) in Lake Washington — for 31 total area/days. That is the largest number of area/days fished in the 9 years of records we’ve reviewed. In fact the Tribe had more open area/days this year than in 2008, 2009, 2012, and 2014; all of which had 20%-35% larger runs counted at the locks.

The Aftermath

At this point, there are many questions to ask and avenues to follow — which we’ll do in future stories…

  • When a fish run we have such excellent data for is experiencing questionable Tribal reporting — it certainly undermines credibility of fisheries with less available data.
  • Trust-but-Verify: How can we begin to rebuild trust between co-managers by improving this process? Would agreeing to mutual surprise audits and verification improve both relationships and reporting accuracy?
  • The numbers, including our estimated 15% hatchery strays, indicate the two Tribes netted more like 12,000 coho on this run last year–well in excess of their 50% of the harvestable fish. Will the State attempt an internal reconstruction of this run, and pursue efforts to reclaim any of these fish? Under the repayment provisions of the Federally Approved Puget Sound Salmon Management plan, the Tribes would owe catch allocation back to the State for 2017.

51 Comments on "Numbers Don’t Add Up | Tribal Catch Questioned"

  1. I think the data shows the fish numbers pretty clearly.and it also shows a big gap in reporting efforts of muckelshoots. They cooked the books so to speak in business lingo. And they have been cought.they now need to be fined and watched more closely then ever can be in the form of a cash payment or in future allotted catch.I don’t think you can lump all tribes into this at this point. The tribes do some great work in some fisheries and should not be punished for what looks to be a bad apple in the muckelshoots.

  2. Great reporting. Pretty hard evidence of what has been suspected all along. Extrapolating this to all our co-managers/the entire sound, we are looking at a pretty alarming picture (keeping in mind, of course, that some comanagers are straight shooters and some aren’t). But we may be talking about quite a bit more than 10,000 missing coho. Which I think is what you may be inferring. Anyway, great work.

  3. Carl peterson | March 20, 2017 at 4:37 pm | Reply

    Need more fishery inspections of the Indian catches and elimination of the netting

    • Terrance Baker Sr. | March 20, 2017 at 6:44 pm | Reply

      I have been advocating the cessation of nets in ALL WASHINGTON STATE WATERS for a number of years. Up until last year there was no incentive for betters to stop (other than the declining nu,bets of fish). But….
      Last year Congress authorized funding for Magnusson-Stevens Act. This is funding for fisheries preservation.
      Under this act is would b possible to subsidize the removal of nets. The subsidy would provide funding for the conversion of net boats to commercial trol boats.
      Those boats would then share the same fishery at the same time as recreational fishers.
      The result would be far more accurate counts, simplified and EQUAL enforcement (using members from both Tribal and WDFW enforcement).
      While the result would decrease the total catch by Tribal fishers it would dramatically reduce the incidental bycatch of Steelhead, Sturgeon, and Wild returning Salmon. Needless to say those numbers would increase year over year.
      Doing this would also provide incentive for Tribal hatcheries to ramp up production providing more harvestable fish for all.
      Just my $.02 though…

  4. Continue monitoring and perhaps levy a fine or have them refund the salmon tags to those who purchased last year? Definitely get rid of the nets.

  5. It obvious they intentionally understated the counts , so now what punishment will be delt ??

  6. Terrance Baker Sr. | March 20, 2017 at 6:22 pm | Reply

    I agree we need more oversite and spot inspection…ON BOTH SIDES, in all of our fisheries, to ensure equality.
    In order to ensure harvest number accuracy and enforcement the comanagers need to assemble enforcement officials into teams with members from both sides.
    These teams can ensure that rules and regulations are applied equally and get accurate counts of returning fish.
    The flagrant disregard for the court mandated split cannot be allowed to continue. It does more than enclave the comanagers and recreational fishermen…it results in overfishing and eventually will kill the run.
    While I understand that the NW Treaty Tribes in reality gave us opportunity to catch 50% of the fish this is not an arbitrary number which they can just ignore at their whim.
    In the case of the Muckleshoot tribe I have to wonder what ars they doing to restore the Salmon runs? Are they performing and inordinate number of habitat restoration projects? If so then perhaps they feel they may be entitled to a larger share because they are doing more…I don know and I do not believe anyone else knows either.
    I have personally tried reaching out to Chairwoman Loomis on several occasions without response.

    I am convinced the NW Treaty Tribes are no longer interested in Comanaging the resource. They are in it for everything they can get and in any way they can take it…up to and including falsifying expected return numbers in order to force the non-tribal fishers out of the water.
    First one tribe claims water and the wetted area of the river on both sides, the following year returning fish numbers are skewed forcing WDFW to close the Coho seasons. I’m afraid to ask what could be next!

  7. Sport fishing,commercial fisheries and state hatcheries are held to high standards and strict regulations
    There’s should be the no different!!

  8. Some of the tribal fishers were selling coho at A dock at Shilshole last year. I believe one of their names is “Coho Willie”. I was told that he was bragging about them taking 1000 fish in one day. Even with a 50% “brag” factor the number far exceeds day depicted in the chart above.

  9. I’m curious if the authors reached out to Wdfw or MIT in an effort to solve these questions before publishing this article? Perhaps there are other explanations. I heard that the Muckleshoot were quite unhappy with Suquamish for netting as hard as they did. I know that harvest accounting is a legitimate issue for both sides of the co-manager relationship but I’m concerned that releasing this article could have negative impacts on season negotiations going on right now.

  10. There have been studies of Chinook with radio tags at the Ballard locks showing that a single fish might swim up the fish ladder and then back to the salt through the locks themselves and then back up the ladder again up to seven times. I’m not aware of any similar studies for Coho but if this is the case I could certainly explain a lot about higher locks fish counts then there are actual fish.

  11. James Betteley | March 20, 2017 at 7:58 pm | Reply

    Is there any account/factor for Sea Lions or other predatory factors? Also, how vulnerable are the little fry to radioactive contamination now present in our fishery areas? Is anyone monitoring that?

    • James, sealions are only very-occasionally observed in the freshwater between the locks and hatchery–predation of this magnitude AFTER counting at the ladder doesn’t appear to be a viable issue. As for impacts of radiation on fry, this entire article is about adult returning fish on the last miles of their swim back to the hatchery, not out migrating fry.

  12. It’s call FUKUSHIMA…………….Wake up!

    • Given the distances and volumes of ocean water involved, we’re skeptical of any claims that Fukushima can be scientifically linked to Puget Sound fisheries. We are not insensitive to habitat concerns having an impact on our fisheries, but even a Fukushima sized disaster that is 4500 miles away pales in comparison to Puget Sound ghost nets and urban pollutants from Washington State.

    • BK,
      As a scientist investigating the arrival of Fukushima radiation in BC waters, I can tell you with high confidence that Fukushima is not the cause of 10,000 missing fish between the Ballard Locks and the Issaquah hatchery. By far, my strongest evidence for this is because there is no Fukushima radiation in any river system. Whatever fallout that was deposited in Washington in the weeks after the 2011 accident has long since been made mobile and transited through the watershed. However, the atmospheric component was small compared to the marine discharge.

      The Fukushima InFORM monitoring program is an academic effort based out of the University of Victoria to investigate the arrival of the Fukushima plume in BC waters. We have found that the leading edge of the plume has arrived, and while levels are still increasing, current observations are 3000-5000 times lower than the prescribed action levels and about 200,000 times lower than amounts known to be harmful to fish. We also have been evaluating the possibility of bioaccumulation in salmon and while we have sampled nearly 400 salmon between 2014 and 2016, only one has tested positive for trace levels of Fukushima radiation. At the levels observed, you would need to eat 1000-1500 kg (2200-3300 lb) of this salmon to equal the same extra radiation dose as you would receive in a single cross country flight. (Original report:

      You can find out more about our findings and continued monitoring efforts on our project page

      Jonathan Kellogg, PhD
      Fukushima InFORM Program Manager

  13. Russ carpenter | March 20, 2017 at 8:33 pm | Reply

    The tribes need to be held accountable. This kind of thing has been going on for yrs. Their recorded catch is approximate..

  14. Time to revisit the Boldt decision. Someone needs to start a federal law suit and re negotiate everything at a federal level since the tribes clearly could give an S about state laws. Nothing will change until we bring it to a federal level. period. There is way to much casino money and buying off politicians with the tribes, and any action we take against them will be considered racist in this libatard state. Correct me if im wrong, but isn’t there a tribal member on the board for all of the major news networks too? they do that so nothing bad can be published against them

  15. Time to sit them down at the table and offer exclusive statewide rights to slot machines in exchange for removing gill nets, Slots in our State are a Billion dollar industry. if they don’t want to negotiate, Let every bar, bowling ally or establishment that wants them, to have them, And reap the reward from taxes. People will not be so inamored with tribal casinos if the can get all the gaming in their back yard.
    As of now they have the exclusive rights, because the State allows them to. Always subject to change. And no business wants to lose billions.

  16. Patrick L. Pattillo | March 20, 2017 at 11:10 pm | Reply

    Tidal Exchange Staff,
    Without the involvement of WDFW and the tribes your investigation of catch accounting for the 2016 Lake Washington coho run is only superficial and conclusions you’ve drawn only serve to stir up latent anger over treaty fishing rights. I am not at all surprised by the low coho catch by the Muckleshoot Tribe. The lack of catch in the Ship Canal could easily be explained by the choice of tribal fishermen to deploy their gear in the Duwamish River instead of the Ship Canal. The Muckleshoot Tribe has treaty fishing rights in both of these systems and the return to the Green River was probably stronger than the Lake Washington return. There may or may not be an explanation to your accounting, including the possibility of significant fallback as suggested by Mr. Nyman, or simply that you don’t have all the information. I’m sure that the intention of your investigation is to be constructive, but I cannot understand why you feel compelled to draw a conclusion without all the information. You probably do know that accusing the Muckleshoot Tribe of incomplete catch accounting without complete information on your part is inflammatory. You probably could have guessed that throwing out such a unsubstantiated conclusion would generate hateful responses that are not at all constructive and serve as gas for the fire. Further, I suspect that the timing of your article – directly in the middle of the North of Falcon process where salmon fishing seasons will be set – was purposefully provocative. You must know that neither WDFW nor the tribes will spend any time responding to your article while they are focused on the fisheries that everyone cares about, including you. You and some of your readers might be frustrated that you cannot attend government meetings between the state and tribes that occur as part of that North of Falcon process (including today as the tribes meet with WDFW in Lacey). But unless you want to go and beat your head against the closed door of those meetings, you might want to consider attending the next public meeting with WDFW and register this issue with the only representative in those closed-door meetings that you’ve got. Frankly though, I don’t see that the issue of catch accounting in Lake Washington of hatchery fish is as important as some of the real conservation challenges facing us all in 2017 with ESA listed chinook, so it would surprise me if WDFW found your argument so compelling and such a high priority that they would set aside their work on those 2017 conservation issues and focus on catch accounting of 2016 Lake Washington coho. If you really wanted to be constructive, you could have picked a better time to publish your half-baked investigation. You could have waited until the North of Falcon process is over and then pressed WDFW to prioritize working with the tribes to produce a complete investigation.
    Urge your readers to attend the next North of Falcon meeting. Report on the issues facing everyone in 2017 and urge readers to get involved. Urge them to drop the insane idea of revisiting the Boldt decision by inserting into your article the distracting and unproductive issue of allocation (citing irrelevant sections of the Puget Sound Salmon Management Plan). If you really want to be constructive, then focus.
    If you want to discuss the catch accounting issue in greater detail, I have some professional experience in the matter. But you’ll have to catch me sometime after April, after I see that sport fishing seasons I’m hoping for are set.

    • Pat,

      As always we appreciate and respect your opinion, and you’re welcome here any time. For what it’s worth, you’ll find the contributors at Tidal Exchange are involved in those meetings–both the state briefings recently, and NOF meetings ahead.

      However, we reject the assertion that it is our timing that is a problem. We requested the catch record data 5 months ago–and it took 4 of those 5 months to receive the records. By comparison, we did our analysis, writing and review — all as volunteers — in under four weeks. The timing was not deliberate–it was simply as fast as we could work after receiving the data.

      If you see this as a provocation, that’s unfortunate… In a year which saw a collapse of NOF, co-managers fishing outside of mutually agreed upon seasons, and meaningful calls for transparency in our fisheries, this news article hardly seems like the real problem.

    • Your response is quite amusing by blaming the timing of this article to coincide with NOF. You know what I find amusing….the timing of all the tribal television commercials on tv saying how charitable they are. I find their commercials way more suspicious than the timing of this article. The tribes KNOW they were caught red handed abusing the fishing rights last season and are now reeling (pun intended) to make themselves look good right before another disastrous NOF. Slimy way to subconsciously convince the public that they are not the enemy right before NOF. what a joke.

  17. Its not a problem of the tribes catching fish. Its a problem of them catching and selling them. I brother is a lawyer for the Army Corp of Engineers and is constantly doing battle with the tribes over the fish and the dams. At the tax payers expense. Their end goal is for the dams to be removed so that the fish dont have to swim through the locks and fish ladders. They heavily point to and blame lower number on this. Yet, they are allowed to gill net thousands of fish and sell them along the banks of the Columbia. In the Dalles OR. a small tent and camper town springs up. Huge 1000 lbs blue totes are overflowing with fish. And here they are with no concern of conservation or ethics, selling as much as they possible can. I have no problem with the tribes sustenance fishing. That is their right, but when were they given to the right to sell fish for profit? And then blame low fish numbers on everything and everyone but themselves? Giving them special privileges does not void their responsibility to conserve. Nor does it put them above the law.

  18. Fukashima? WTF?

    Gil Harding PHD in Detecting B.S. Another Degree in Horse Pukey!

  19. How about revisiting the judge boost ruling the simple formula of 50percent of all harvestable fish is ludicrous to begin with and on way too many occasions proof of over harvest have been seen especially in my home river system the skagit the treaty has been broken over and over and honestly only getting further out of control

  20. I don’t see any mention of the tribes climbing into the ladder and dipping the Salmon that made it through their barrage of nets? And yes they did do that and all you have to do is search Youtube “fish netted from fish ladders at the Locks” and it will show them. The Muckleshoots have been running their phony stewards of the land commercial on TV. I guess everyone has forgotten that their director has been caught running a major poaching scheme also…Take away their rights for a season and lets see what kind of return we get? The state was sure ready to take the fish from the sportsmen!

  21. I believe non taditional indian fishing will take the last native salmon, Silver, King, Sockeye, Chum and Pink (not to forget Steelhead) in our lifetimes!!! GILL NETTING HAS TO STOP!! I can’t believe that no one sees this as the 300# gorilla sitting in the corner!! It is raping the salmon fishery fom Northern California to Alaska!

  22. Dave, Celilo falls was known as the “Wall Street” of the PNW. Salmon have been used for trade and bartering for thousands of years bu Columbia River tribes. Tribes havebhad to resort to using gill nets to harvest their fair share of harvestable fish. Reservoirs are not natural and have inundated many traditional fishing areas. Dams have decimated salmon runs to extinction in many areas. I think you need to do more research in what tribe’s actually do towards salmon conservation and restoration.

  23. The only error I see in the numbers is that your graph chart should be labeled September 2016, because September 2017 is yet to come.

  24. AP, explain the dipping of salmon out of the ladders in Hiram Chittam Locks as getting their fair share? Just saying….

  25. Brian Smelser | March 21, 2017 at 3:26 am | Reply

    What kind of penalties or consequences are in place for either missing counts or inaccurate counts for any party? Should some be mutually agreed upon?

  26. Trash the nets,fine the perps [snip -ed] Its obvious what was done now fix it and move on.

  27. Allen Starrett | March 21, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Reply

    Two words “Body Cameras”. A picture says a thousand words!

  28. I applaud your article and the staff! It is not easy to find information, and once uncovered to present it. Thank you! Your tenacity and untiring efforts to bring truth to our fisheries is refreshing. Time will tell if the system is so far gone as to not be saved, but at least you can say you did something. Thank You!

  29. The biggest issue I see here is that yes, the tribes are very much over fishing the waters. They need to have the same conditions that we have and need to be held accountable for providing catch numbers/records just like we do. Also, one other member mentioned the tribal commercials… I completely agree. I had last Wednesday through Friday off and saw at least 5-6 different commercials each night about how the tribes are bettering the economy and the environment and how they donate/help non profit organizations and “my business wouldn’t be possible without the tulalip tribes.” Impeccable timing on their part considering last weeks meeting. The tribes need to only get the casinos/outlet malls or fishing… they shouldn’t get both. Or if they do get both, they need to put “X” amount of dollars that they get from their casino earnings and put it back into the hatcheries so that we can prolong the salmon species and have bad arse fishing seasons to come. Imagine how awesome the fishing would be around here if they put some of the billions of dollars they make from the casinos into the fishing hatcheries. We’d never have to worry about preserving the salmon species ever again.

  30. TONY MCBRIDE | March 22, 2017 at 3:50 pm | Reply

    I did not read every comment so this may have been covered already. How about having a fish checker at wherever the Muckleshoot tribe lands their boats after a day of fishing? If it is only ten boats, would not require much money or effort to get this done. This way we have an accurate daily count on what they catch. We place fish checkers all over the state to record catch rates, why not in this case?

  31. You left off the fact that publication of these data completely refutes your own headline from December that the tribes did not report any coho catch for 2016. For the sake of your own credibility it would be prudent to first apologize for that mistake. Your citing of the Suquamish catch data as reliable totally blows apart your attempt at innuendo that all other tribal catch reporting is questionable. I have to agree with Pat that this seems to be a way to rile people up at a critical moment in preseason fishery negotiations. Too bad, because solid reporting of catch is key to focusing salmon recovery efforts away from fruitless attacks on harvest and towards the habitat restoration and protection measures that will make a real difference. I understand your requests for greater transparency and timeliness of data sharing as well as better public access to comanager discussions. But it is impossible to support you publicly in these requests when this type of inflammatory rhetoric is pat of the package.

    • Welcome back Kit,

      Your thoughts about the December story are appreciated, and are exactly why on Jan 17th we added a paragraph at the TOP of that article–updating it with the latest information. That is transparent and timely. On Jan 23rd, we added a second paragraph of additional new details in that editorial note. Again transparent and timely to the developing information.

      If, on the other hand, fishing landings and creel counts by all parties were distributed in a transparent and timely way then December wouldn’t have happened at all — so we might suggest we all focus on solving the issue that can really help bring us all back down to earth. The recognition that it’s in the co-managers mutual interests to conduct season setting and fisheries in a mutually transparent way.

      As for your perception that the timing (vs. NOF) is intentional, our response is correlation is not causation. We would love to have written this story in October–far from North of Falcon. Why else would we have requested the data back then?

      Your last thought is appreciated — and we’d ask you re-read the piece with an eye to the level of care we used trying to balance the language. Phrases like “preponderance of the evidence” seem like they should be in-bounds for reasonable people to argue… From our side of the screen it feels like any questioning of the data or actions is reflexively met with “inflammatory” rhetoric charges, and (as in this case) incorrect assertions about our timing & motivations.

      We care about the endangered fish, and we care about equitable management practices & seasons. We will work with anyone, anywhere who shares those goals.

  32. Sirs,

    In the piece published earlier this year you provided a link to the actual data. I believe it would be a great service to do the same here.

  33. Ok. I reread more carefully. Holy mackerel, there’s enough hand waving in the sport catch estimate to power an entire sailboat race on Lake Washington! As you know, fish ticket data are mot final yet, and sport catch data for 2016 are not even available at all. There would have been better ways to habdle this, and you do still need to apologize for the false acvusation of no catch reporting that you made in December. As I said before, a number of you know better.

    • Kit,

      How about a double apology for you, since that’s what you seem most focused on. First, Asst Director Warren sent us a note in January apologizing for the confusion created by the response to our PDR request. Second, we apologize if our accurate reporting of the data we received created additional confusion. We once again will suggest that you’re focused on the messenger not the bulk of the problem — which is timely and transparent reporting of catch data.

      On the positive side we agree completely with you that Sport Catch accounting must be improved and are outspoken advocates for moving all this into the digital age. You are surely aware that there are significant logistical and infrastructural changes in the reporting process necessary to achieve that, and you will find us strongly in support of all of them. Surely however, sources of data which are already modernized could and should be disclosed in a timely fashion. This happens with NT commercial landings, and Sport creel counts. The absence of that transparency on tribal reporting is in fact why the December issue you’re still focusing on occurred and additionally it is why this article wasn’t written months ago–when it would have been well clear of NOF.

      Finally, if you find our sport catch number laughable, we await your improvement to those specifics. But you know that even if we’ve errored significantly in our sport catch modeling — we’re off by 10’s or 100’s of fish, not 1000’s required to square this ledger.

  34. Richard Vaughan | March 24, 2017 at 10:57 pm | Reply

    The issue of abuse with tribal fishing rights has been going on for as long as I can remember. Sport fishing the Skagit in the 80’s and personally seeing how the river was netted fostered resentment towards the tribes among many. The waste, abuse, and recklessness made the mighty Skagit River into what it is today. Not rocket science going on here. Plain and simple. Unfortunately the lack of enforcement over the many years has us where we are today. Corruption at its best between all involved. Lets blame climate change, global warming, better yet, the Russians!!

  35. Phil Hamilton | March 30, 2017 at 4:11 am | Reply

    Completely Laughable and inflammatory!
    Though your article once again mischaracterizes tribal fisheries and catches, we do agree with you that the numbers do not add up.
    It has been said, before you try to remove the twig in your neighbors eye, you must first remove the plank in your own.
    You need to do an investigative report on sport catch GUESTIMATES” by WDFW, and their lack of ability to provide in a timely fashion. The tribes are still waiting for 2014 #’s.
    Even though the tribes lost an FAB in 97, the court advisor recommended to the courts that WDFW needs to provide a better method in GUESTIMATING their sport catch.
    Thanx Pat and Kit.

    • (Editors Note: Phil Hamilton is a member of the Muckleshoot Tribe Fishery Council)

      Mr. Hamilton,

      We will leave the editorial merit of your “laughter” at this story for readers to judge for themselves. As for neighborly advice, we’re not sure if yours is more appropriate for us, or for yourself.

      To that point, if you would like to access the WDFW Sport Catch reports, you’ll find them easily accessible on the WDFW website. We used the Google search “WDFW Sport Catch Reports” and the first link is what you’re looking for.

    • Phil,

      I totally agree the WDFW needs to do better in getting hard sport angler catch data in a timely manner.

      I was on the water on 9/30 last year and personally saw the boat “Major Kash” take about 20 salmon out of his net during the time I was close enough to observe him. In fact I have some pictures with fish in his hands and nets.

      That was was not the only boat out there. There were 6 or 7 other boats working nets in the water.

      That experience makes me question the accuracy of the reported tribal catch for that day.

      Since you are a member of the Muckleshoot Tribe Fishery Council, perhaps you can speak to what the Muckleshoot tribe does to ensure accurate reporting of numbers by the various boats & then to the WDFW?

      Perhaps you can also speak as to why for the last couple years there has been no recreational salmon fishing allowed in Lake Sammamish, while the NOF agreement for those years still allowed tribal netting?

      I’d greatly appreciate you sharing that information.

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