Hey all! I know I haven't been here in a while, but I just got settled in at Pullman to begin classes in May, so I finally have a little down time to cruise the forums a little bit again. As a former WDFW employee, I saw this topic and my heart sank a little. thought I could provide a little information that may help anglers understand the thoughts behind what they are doing. This is, of course, what I think they are doing and why, it is by no means a complete explanation or claim to know what the WDFW is doing, just an explanation as I see it from having worked there for 5 years.
spokey9 wrote:Not sure I believe all of that tbh. First off it seems they cut off one of the most popular products they produce, which sorta leads me to think they deliberately chose trips to cut in hopes of generating support for a license increase. 2nd we sportsman already carry the burden of funding the dept. Maybe they should've cut back commercial fishing to bridge the funding gap or put an increase in the licensing. There are lots of user groups who use wdfw lands and services outside hunters and anglers but again they chose the most popular thing they produce to cut. It really doesn't pass a smell imo.
I believe the reasoning behind the cutting of triploids before reducing the number of catchables is two fold. First off, the cost of raising triploids is quite a bit more expensive in several different ways than regular catchable sized rainbow trout. Because of their rapid growth, they need more tank space, and require more oxygen, so when we are splitting the fish out into the ponds shortly after they are ponded as fry, we separate them by size (grade them) and place them into ponds at the densities at which we will plant them. This means that maybe a couple months after they are ponded as fry, they will be transported to the ponds they will spend their entire time at the hatchery in. They do this to limit stress, which is the number 1 killer of fish in captivity. Now because densities are based on the square footage of the tanks in relation to the pounds of fish, the tanks holding triploids have much fewer fish in them. So to kind of simplify everything, think of it as a hatchery may have 6 ponds to hold fish in. You can either have 6 ponds with 3,000 catchable sized rainbow in them totalling 18,000 fish, or you can have 6 ponds with 1800 triploids in each, totalling 10,800 fish. that is a big difference, and a hatchery with only 6 ponds would be extremely small, so you can imagine the number differences in the larger production hatcheries. The WDFW strives for overall number of fish over size, because it gives the most angler's the highest probability of catching fish when they go fishing. Another part that plays into the cost of raising and planting triploids is the cost of transportation. Just like the ponds in the hatcheries, the trucks are also filled based on a specific density (available square feet in the tanks compared to pounds of fish) So when you are transporting these larger fish, you are forced to transport significantly less fish. So in order to transport 1000 fish, you may be able to fit that number of catchables in one truck load to the lake, where as with triploids, it may take 3 or 4 loads to get the same number there. At least this is my understanding of their thought process from what limited interaction I had with the people higher up the food chain. I hope that kind of helps shed light on why they are doing what they are doing there.
As a side note, did the customer service person from Mill Creek give you a name? I'm not sure if he still works there, but Kevin Clark was the region 4 manager for WDFW while I was going to school for my fisheries degree, you may try calling the listed number for the Bellingham hatchery and ask to speak with him regarding the decisions made. I know he went to Mill Creek for WDFW meetings with the higher-ups all the time (He hated that part of his job, haha!) But he is a fisherman that now runs hatcheries, as opposed to the typical hatchery regional managers that aren't actually outdoorsmen.
As for the salmon side of things, I believe the tribes have much more impact on these discussions than the WDFW does. At least when I was working there, our budget was affected pretty heavily by their decision making because the percentage they wanted to allow the gillnetters to take pretty much gave us an expected percentage return, and our budget was based on how much it would cost to rear that percentage to release size. You also have to remember that the salmon and trout budgets are based on different things, and are usually kept separate. lots of hatcheries deal with either one or the other, very few state hatcheries deal with both salmon, and trout.
Anyways, sorry for the long-winded post, but I hope that clears a couple things up for you guys!
Forgot to talk about the cost of living question I saw as well. Most hatcheries have what is called mandatory stand-by at their facilities when the eggs begin hatching, until the fish are ponded. This is generally facilitated by an employee that lives on-station. So I believe the cost of living they are refering to is the cost of having an employee live on station. I was that employee for a state hatchery a few years ago. What they do is they pay for your electric, rent, heat, ect. ect. and they take a very small portion of your paycheck to cover these funds. The amount they take from your paycheck has been the same for several years, from what I understand, and has not changed in a very long time. So I'm assuming they are referring to how much it costs the state to have an employee live on station.