AFFTA Weighs in on Seafood Watch’s Wild Steelhead Designation

In response to Seafood Watch’s recent mind-boggling decision to list wild steelhead from the Olympic Peninsula as a “Good Alternative”, the good folks at AFFTA sent the following letter to Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly, the Director of the Seafood Watch Program.

If you want to learn more about this issue and take action by telling Seafood Watch to take wild steelhead off the menu, click here.

Dear Ms. Kemmerly,

The American Fly Fishing Trade Association reviewed with interest the assessment of Olympic Peninsula wild steelhead capture fisheries prepared by the Safina Center for the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Program. As the fly-fishing industry’s trade organization, we are concerned on several points.

The current criteria used in the assessment was developed for marine fisheries, and is not applicable or appropriate for assessing the Olympic Peninsula steelhead fisheries. These fish populations are currently relatively small and already in decline, and require a drastically different set of criteria (which we understand are currently being developed).

As Dr. Matthew Sloat of the Wild Salmon Center and John McMillan of Trout Unlimited have noted in their comments on the assessment, we have concern on the use and interpretation of fisheries data used in the revised assessment. In short, the lack of current criteria specific to the nature and behaviors of these fish challenges the credibility of the report.

Olympic Peninsula steelhead populations represent a crucial, delicate ecosystem; one that is near and dear to many of our members. Any angler who has stepped into the Hoh or the Quillayute River can readily attest to the uniqueness of both the fishery and its occupants. We are concerned this draft is not based on the best available science, and would readily urge Seafood Watch to postpone its determination until assessment criteria unique to anadromous species such as steelhead and salmon can be developed.

Sincerely,

Ben Bulis, President

American Fly Fishing Trade Association

 

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