There has been a lot of talk in the last few days about the ongoing salmon fishing negotiations between the state of Washington and the treaty tribes in western Washington. Some of it stands on its own, but some of it bears a response.

For example, from the Seattle Times last week:

 “The state in collaboration with the recreational fishing community provided the tribes very early in the (salmon season-setting) process a responsible and sound conservation package that recognized the very poor coho returns,” said Pat Pattillo, who spent 38 years as the state Fish and Wildlife salmon policy coordinator and is now a spokesman for 10 sport-fishing organizations.

This is just flat-out wrong.

Here is the state’s actual first proposal:


This proposal for chinook (top) and coho (bottom) fishing seasons came to the tribes during the second round of North of Falcon negotiations on March 29. This is almost an entire month into the process and it included an expansion of fishing by the state, including directed fisheries on coho salmon.

On the lower chart, the state proposed mark-selective fisheries (MSF in the chart) on coho in pre-terminal areas throughout Puget Sound. While this kind of fishery is intended to target usually abundant hatchery fish, returns of both hatchery and wild coho stocks are far below expectations this year. Expanding fisheries during a historically bad year is not “responsible and sound conservation.” In fact, it is not conservation at all.

It is worth reiterating that Pattillo, while once a state employee involved in fishing negotiations, has since retired. Currently, he represents sport fishing interests and was not in the room during the actual negotiations.