Yesterday at the Washington State Senate, Senator VanDeWege introduced Senate Bill 6127, a bill that would help sport halibut anglers. In short, the bill would impose a $5 fee for a halibut catch record card. By charging a fee it would drastically reduce the actual amount of halibut anglers to about 10,000 active anglers. Currently WDFW issues over 250,000 annually. WDFW then uses these numbers in their metrics to try and calculate our annual catch. Please read my last post about this issue. https://halibutchronicles.com/2018/01/19/wdfws-mismanagement-of-halibut-proven/
Michele Culver, who works for WDFW in the Intergovernmental Ocean Policy Department and is in charge of Washington halibut management testified that halibut catch record cards “We currently don’t use catch record cards for management, we use port sampling..” said Michele Culver. She later said catch record cards aren’t timely and the catch record card is only used as a “ground truthing” method to see if the cards match their port reporting data. At a meeting at the International Pacific Halibut Commission meeting in Portland yesterday, former WDFW Wildlife Director Phil Anderson said halibut catch record cards are a waste of time.
Here’s my take on this issue and why these two bureaucrats don’t want a halibut catch record card. As mentioned in my previous post, WDFW uses a metrics to help calculate how many halibut anglers there are and how many halibut get caught during halibut days. If we switch to a paid halibut catch record card the numbers of halibut anglers drop from 250,000 “potential” halibut anglers to about 10,000 “actual” halibut anglers. That’s a huge drop and would drastically effect WDFW metrics that calculate our catch which result in far less catches than previously reported, thus increasing the amount of days to fish for halibut. This would prove what we sports anglers have been saying for years, WDFW overestimates how many halibut we catch.
According to WDFW, in 2016 sport halibut anglers caught 5,337 total halibut during an eight day season. That’s 667 halibut per day! While WDFW claims these numbers are accurate, they also admit fish checkers did not see all of these fish but did use their metrics to calculate these numbers.
If WDFW officials don’t value catch record cards why do we have them for any species?
WDFW currently has technology to implement an electronic reporting system for halibut anglers that would give fishery managers a fast, accurate accounting of actual catch rates during the halibut season. Last year they implemented the Canadian Salmon Trip Notification using their website. This technology could be used for halibut anglers. When halibut catch record card holders catch a halibut they would have a pre-determined amount of time, say 24 to 72 hours to report their catch online. All they would have to do is change some fields in the form to accommodate halibut anglers which could include inches long which would give more accurate accounts of not only how many fish sports anglers catch but pounds of halibut. Please check out their web page that features this technology. https://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/canadian_catch.php