Steelhead Country – Episode 4: Maximum Sustained Yield

State, federal and tribal fisheries agencies share responsibility for managing steelhead in Washington state. But for decades, harvest has been prioritized above conservation, and both the fish and the fishermen have paid the price. Despite its being attributed to the collapse of fisheries around the globe, Maximum Sustained Yield, a system that centers on harvesting as many fish as possible, has been the tool of choice for divvying up Washington’s wild steelhead. While the data is becoming ever more clear that these models can’t predict the complexity, or the fragility, of wild ecosystems, in some parts of Steelhead Country, those tasked with conserving wild steelhead are still managing down to the last dead fish.


One thought on “Steelhead Country – Episode 4: Maximum Sustained Yield

  1. M.S.Y.

    Something from a far-off, Acronym-Rich Era, cheerily communicating the deeply uncomfortable / totally unthinkable, in a few, harmless, crossword clue, letters.

    I am old enough to remember that era.

    Old enough to remember M.A.D. – Mutually Assured Destruction.

    As in “You nuke us, we nuke you, equally and simultanously, then we can call it quits, End Of……”

    Retreats to look at a 1974 personal fishing diary of mine, with pasted-in Kodak Instamatic fishy bodycount photos . September of that year. I had seven Atlantic salmon in a day from one, not particularly fancy, Welsh river, then drove to another, much smaller one a few miles away and hooked two but only landed one there. A great old pal of mine had the same number of fish the day after mine. I had 15 for the mid-month week. Another man I knew had a lot lot more, but then was professional pothunter, a man who’d snag with a 7/0 single if the bailiffs weren’t around. I finished the month of September and the first week of October (when the rod-fishing season closed) with 33 salmon. Wild salmon. All killed, back then, as we knew that we were barely touching the runs that hit the river that year and were seen spawning in their apparent “thousands” in the upper river and the tributaries in November and December.


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