TIPPING THE ICEBERG
Yes, WDFW Director Unsworth is gone (February 7th) and with that, a deep breath of fresh air filled the lungs of the Pacific Northwest. Now the real and ongoing issues can be addressed without his influence or lack thereof.
The two articles on the front of this issue of TRN were written just hours before Unsworth announced his “resignation”. It was too late to change them before press deadline but they are still timely in that so many important issues of concern are being addressed.
At a banquet in December we shared the head table with the director and his wife. He seemed like a nice guy and his wife was charming. We chatted about the upcoming department “app”, the longevity of TRN, Orcas and conservation. He stated that fisheries was not his strong suit. (Holy-molly!) Yup, a nice guy but a mis-guided director that refused to work towards better fisheries, open meetings, promoted secrecy and avoided telling his bosses (the Commission) of his inept actions. He never should have been hired for the job, he wasn’t qualified, but more about that next month.
Now that the tip of the iceberg has been removed, lets take a look at what was below the surface…
- A few hours before Unsworth’s “resignation” his bosses on the WDFW Commission basically put the Chinook Harvest Management Plan on the back burner. The plan, as signed by Unsworth and withheld from the commissioners, had the potential to basically eliminate all saltwater recreational catching in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound. This would have devastated the recreational fishing industry and all those that service it for 10-12 years. The commission advised state fishery managers to strike a better balance between conservation and harvest opportunities and suggested they explore a variety of options. Even NOAA informed the state that the plan Unsworth signed was insufficient.
- The director resigned just days before the broken, dreaded and drawn-out North of Falcon process that sets salmon seasons between recreational, commercial and tribal fishing for the year. As mentioned above, fisheries was not Unsworth’s strong suit by his own admission.
- Secret meetings between the tribes and the department have long been an issue, with both of them refusing public or allowing the press to be present. I ask, what are they hiding and why?! Why can’t those that pay their salary (license buyers) have input. And what the hell happened to freedom of the press?
- Management, management, mis-management. How many more years must we put up with ineptness from our fisheries and wildlife upper management? The next to go should be all those that advised Unsworth to sign the Chinook Harvest Management Plan. The commission should set standards for upper management, interview all of them and give those that are worthy of early retirement their immediate retirement. If I was the director many of them would be reassigned to the bottom of a hatchery holding pen and given a steel brush. The rest would have an empty box from TRN sitting on their desk when they got to work, waiting to be filled.
- For now, do we need a new director? They always say there will be a national search for the next-best-thing. We all know how that has gone in the past. Why not let the commissioners do the directing job for several months so they know exactly what the requirements would be for the next-best-thing.
- Etc., etc., etc…
Everything involving fisheries in the Pacific Northwest (Alaska, British Columbia, Oregon, Idaho and even northern California) is heavily influence by decisions made in Washington State due to the Boldt Decision offering tribal influence. There are rules in Washington like nowhere else in North America. Plus, this may be the only place left in the world where kill-nets can be strung-out in the rivers to catch breeding fish. Everything done in Washington has a major influence on the rest of the northeastern Pacific Ocean. It’s time for some smart decisions as we continue to explore and discover what else is below the surface and under the tip of the iceberg.