Ten Hippie Nonsense Commandments of Wild Fish Advocacy

Ten Hippie Nonsense Commandments of Wild Fish Advocacy

An anonymous person who goes by “Big Mike”” did not like what I wrote recently in my Respect our Hatchery Steelhead post.  Big Mike seemed to take offense to what I wrote and expressed the opinion that I was talking “hippie nonsense.”

Right on, dude.

Sustaining healthy wild fish populations requires a trifecta of actions: protecting habitat (from the headwaters to the ocean); allowing enough fish to spawn; and keeping he effects of hatchery fish within levels where the wild fish can still flourish.

Feeling rather free this morning, I decided to share.  How nice.  You’re welcome.

Ten Hippie Nonsense Commandments of Wild Fish Advocacy

1.     No name-calling.  Period.  Harsh thoughts about other people should be kept to oneself.   The land developers, dam builders, oil drillers, industrial foresters, and golf course developers are taking notes.

2.     Keep science separate from personal preferences and be clear about both.

3.     Recognize that habitat destruction – the disembodiment of watershed ecological processes – is a far more pervasive and relentless threat to wild fish than most of the hatchery fish programs currently in Oregon.

4.     Understand that fish harvest, potentially, could inflict rapid and devastating impact on the productivity of wild fish populations.

5.     Partner with a diverse set of anglers and conservation advocacy groups; find areas of common ground.

6.     Don’t make a crisis out of every fish management issue.

7.     Set long-term goals.

8.     Chart timetables for achieving these goals. Propose bridge management alternatives. Don’t try to eat the elephant at one sitting.

9.     Accept more risk to wild fish in some areas in order to achieve less risk to wild fish in other areas.

10.  Help educate the general angling public and the non-angling public.  If the community of anglers is unable to find areas of agreement regarding wild fish management, why should the general pubic care about salmon and steelhead?

We need to work together, not battle among ourselves.  We are bait fishers and fly fishers; we want to kill fish and we don’t; we are pro- and anti-hatchery fish advocates; we are tribal and non-tribal fishers.

If we anglers behave the way we have in the past, I fear we will all lose.  Wild fish will lose.  Hatchery fish will lose.  The future of fishing will lose.  Rivers and public access to rivers will lose.  If we, members of various fishing preference groups are too strident, exclusive, and personally combative, others who value the salmon’s precious rivers for water, timber harvest, luxury homes, golf courses, or power may have more to say about the future of these rivers, wild fish, and fishing than anglers will.


9 thoughts on “Ten Hippie Nonsense Commandments of Wild Fish Advocacy

  1. Jay, I love your 10 commandments for us old hippies. Thanks for the time and thought you put into these blogs, I appreciate them. I’m still hoping to hear from you.

  2. so how do we begin the process, Jay, with an entrenched bureaucracy that seems to really resist open and honest dialogue?

    I had attended the Pacific City ODFW meeting on the 2010 Nestucca fall run season thinking the “fishery scientists in charge” were looking for an earnest dialogue on short term gap solutions that would merge into longer term over arching solutions.

    In reality, the meeting was just to provide cover (we really listened to you) for the “bureaucrat(s) in charge” who had apparently already pre determined the 2010 gap solutions, and refused to even discuss for a few minutes on long term direction strategies, a position seriously weakened by the paucity of data they had actually accumulated. And their response to just the most basic core questions would be considered hilarious if not so indicative of just how buried in the mud they actually are.

    “We expect a very poor return by the Nestucca Fall run, primarily due to negative open ocean conditions beyond our control.”
    “We do, however, expect a robust return of the Tillamook Bay fall run due to favorable ocean conditions.”

    Huh? ‘”Excuse me. We’re talking about fish that are moving through the same ocean corridors within miles of each other. Care to explain the respective disparity in negative vs. positive open ocean conditions?”

    “That’s not what we are here to talk about..blah, blah, blah..”

    As a once long hair bay area wild dhild who had way too much fun running around the City and surfing out at Ocean Beach back in the mid 60’s, all I can offer is “man,you are harshing our mellow”…

  3. Lance: get back to ya on this one. You pose valid questions. I believe that real progress will take regular, almost daily dialogue. I think the agency people are burred in mud – the mud of paperwork and oppressive work loads. None of us – except maybe you and me – have all the right answers, all the time. We need wild fish zones. We need hatchery fishing zones. We need better monitoring. We need long term vision for where we will be in 20 and 50 years regarding hatchery and wild fish. We need the general public to pay for fish and wildlife conservation/utilization management, not put the burden on license sales. We need the angling community to work together instead of constantly fighting within the community. We need to become a community. We need free fishing tackle. We need more access for bank fishing on the great rivers. We need outhouses at every boat ramp. We need blue Ribbon or Legacy rivers with a user fee to support local efforts to protect the places. We need fishers to stop leaving trash on the banks. We need some places where escapement goals are set higher than they are now. We need escapement goals for every population or population aggregate. We need rule-sets to explain when we will fish and when we will not. We need people to abandon a knee-jerk appeal for hatchery fish at the first hint that the wild fish are depressed. We need to be prepared to harvest less in order to fish more. We need to share the burden for monitoring and thinking about management with ODFW staff (just peopople. We need to be civil to each other. We need to be concise and to the point.

    Did I mention that we need free fishing tackle? We need free fly tying materials, hooks and tools. We need non-deep-fried foods on the coast. We need more black beans and non-larded rice in our burritos. We need leaders that do not break when we hook that one salmon in two weeks of fishing.

    Lance, I know you care and are devoting your energy to making a difference. Keep on keepin’ on, my friend. Don’t lose heart. Don’t get lost in the darkness. Oh my, I do sound like a hippie. Wait a minute. I was in the Navy when everyone else was a hippie. Gotta go. Here fishy fishy. JN

    1. It’s all good Jay. Each day is a gift, family and love matters most, having fun and doing good work matters next..the rest of this is just stuff…

  4. Jay I have to take issue with #4. A generalization of that type is almost always wrong and sadly almost every watershed in the Pacific Northwest is threatened by hatchery supplementation as well as habitat destruction. Habitat destruction and hatcheries both act in the short and long term to erode the productivity of our wild stocks. Habitat loss from logging, grazing, urbanization, etc has been well documented in the scientific literature and the effects of these activities has been studied from a quantitative perspective. Unfortunately there is very little information on how much hatchery populations may depress wild productivity or erode fitness in the long term, but one thing that is sure is it is likely very substantial. Examples from the John Day, Siletz, and Clackamas in your home state all provide strong evidence that hatchery spawners are capable of driving wild populations to critically low levels.

    I applaud your respect for life but sadly I cannot draw the same joy and inspiration from hatchery fish that I do from locally adapted, wild salmon and steelhead. Hatchery fish are not adequate replacements for their wild counterparts and while supplementation is part of the future of our sports fisheries in the region the status quo will certainly continue to fail. Dumping huge numbers of hatchery fish into productive salmon ecosystems will ALWAYS depress wild productivity. I kill every hatchery fish I catch within my limit, because I place much more personal emphasis on the environmental ethics and mylove for wild salmon surpasses than the sporting tradition of catch and release. For me CnR applies for all wild, native fishes. If the fish are there for harvest opportunity, they should be quickly dispatched and harvested.

    1. Really appreciate your dedication and willingness to state the facts as you see ’em. My Post is only part of the story, as you rightly point out. I have more to come on the topic of hatcheries and wild fish, but have decided not to completely dump it on the blogosphere at the same time. So, there is much to tell and much to discuss — and I appreciate your getting the conversation moved along. By the way, I do know the latest science on impacts of hatchery fish and habitat destruction and over harvest. I do ask folks to get along, but do not expect everyone to do so. It is just me. More to follow, and thank you again. JN

  5. Thanks for the excellent advice, Jay. We are so fortunate to have your perspective. I understand how upsetting these realities can be to those, like myself, who feel justified taking a righteous stand on any of these issues. But as Joyce Sherman recently related, advocates for wild fish are still fighting the same fights they were 20 years ago. Progess is glacial, and we can easily remove ourselves from the conversation and hurt the overall cause by indulging in negativity. As black-and-white as these issues seem from the wild-fish-advocate perspective, they are equally so for those whose perspectives have been shaped by generations of hatchery programs.

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