On July 21st in Seattle, Rob Masonis VP of Western Conservation at Trout Unlimited made the following testimony at the WDFW Puget Sound Gene Banks Meeting. We encourage you to use this in information for either your online or your verbal testimony. For more information Go Here
“Let me start by applauding the Department for moving forward with WSGB designations in Puget Sound.
The designation of wild steelhead gene banks is an opportunity to accomplish three critically important goals at once.
First, to ensure that we have several “stronghold” wild populations in Puget Sound that have a high likeilhood of persistence well into the future.
Second, to rebuild at least several wild populations so that they can provide consistent fishing opportunity for the many anglers who are passionate about wild steelhead.
Third, to have controlled experiments to fill critical gaps in our knowledge about the ability of wild steelhead to recover and how hatchery operations can be improved.
Two of these objectives — conservation and fishing opportunity — are often framed as being in conflict.
They need not and should not be.
If there is enough good habitat and a sufficient number of wild steelhead, their populations can and will recover. Just look at what has happened in the Skagit the last several years.
Diversity is the key to healthy wild steelhead populations, and steelhead diversity is driven by habitat diversity. This is why it is critical that the Department set aside large river basins with ample habitat to allow wild fish to express that diversity and be resilient to changes in environmental conditions.
And it is important that those river systems be fed by high mountain snowpack so that water conditions will remain relatively good as the climate warms in the years ahead.
For these reasons I strongly recommend that the Department designate the entire Skagit and Sauk River basin, the entire Puyallup/Carbon/White river basin, and the entire Elwha Basin as wild steelhead gene banks.
Thank you for your consideration.”