Letter to WDFW Commission: DO YOUR JOB!
Jan 31, 2020 —
Three long years ago we opened this petition and started down the road to fight for our rights as Washington Citizen Sportsmen. A fight to have an equal and fair place in the management of our fish. A fight to end the secret meetings and the results that leave us at the mercy of coercion.
Once again we are heading into another North of Falcon with little to nothing changed in the Secrets as usual process. And as we wait for the lawsuit to work its way through the court, we believe it's time our Commission reach out to our Co-managers again and attempt to convince them that Secrets for any reason only breed problems.
Below is a letter we sent to the Commission. Once again putting the issue of ending these secret meetings squarely in front of them.
We encourage all of you, take a minute and send the Commission a message as well. It doesn’t have to be a letter. You can say you agree that the Secret Meetings must end. Let the Commission know you want them to DO THEIR JOB!
Here is the Commissions email address: Commission@DFW.WA.GOV
Or use this link to send a message to the Commission: Click here to send a message to the Commission
_____LETTER SENT TO COMMISSION__
January 30, 2020
Subject: Open Letter on Continued North of Falcon Public Oversight Prohibition.
Chair Carpenter and Commission Members,
Three years ago this month we were in front of you, testifying to our concerns over the closed door meetings in the North of Falcon process. We explained how detrimental secrets are to our fisheries and to our trust in the process. Further, we explained how it is destructive to trust building between Co-managers.
At the time we were told, although sympathetic to our concerns, the Commission and the Department were powerless to open the negotiations to the public. The reasoning at the time was that the Tribal co-managers, as sovereign governments would not “allow” any public oversight, to include even the non-intrusive use of a live video feed.
Through the course of time, we have seen no improvement in the condition of our salmon returns. To the contrary, we’ve actually seen the problems worsen. We’ve also seen many more examples of public oversight being disregarded in management decisions.
We understand that not all the problems our salmon face are a product of the secret meetings, but we should all agree that secrets have no place in the management of our resources and certainly not in the harvest decisions of endangered species. Secrets create problems, they don’t solve them. Secrets create suspicion and mistrust. Secrets destroy cooperation.
The Commission and Department’s position that it is powerless to bring full transparency to all aspects of our salmon season setting process has resulted in a costly lawsuit. A lawsuit that may have been avoided had the Commission done its job and converted its NOF policy to a WAC and mandated open meetings as was petitioned. Above any legal question of transparency, there is the question of right.
How does the Commission justify having harvest quotas agreed to behind locked doors, void of any public knowledge? How can anyone think that this is representing your constituents? How are we to believe we are a full and equal partner in the Co-management process when our own Commissioner’s are sending such a clear message that we are not?
So, what is the consequence of the Commission’s continued course to avoid action on ending this wrong? The Commission is directly responsible for generating mis-trust and suspicion in it’s wake. It chooses secrecy over transparency, it creates animosity rather than unity and it is derelict in its charter to manage our States fish and wildlife in a fair and transparent manner. A violation of our trust, and more importantly the very reason the people voted to establish the Commission in 1995.
Recently, WDFW co-produced a short documentary titled Lifeblood. In this video, Mr. Shawn Yanity, the Vice Chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC) is seen explaining how vital cooperation is to the recovery of our salmon. We certainly agree. Without trust and cooperation between the recreational fishing community and the Tribal Co-managers, any real hope of recovery is mute.
We ask you to reach out to NWIFC Chair Loomis and Vice Chair Yanity. Let them know that you agree that the time has come. Secrets are destructive and counter productive to unity. Continuing to marginalize the non-tribal citizens to avoid uncomfortable conversations is not the path to trust and cooperation. Transparency is essential to bring legitimacy to co-management.
As we start yet another year of North of Falcon, we cannot again let the culture of secrecy that permeates our salmon management taint any progress with more distrust. We cannot join in unity to work on solutions when our Commission sends the message that that its constituents should be locked outside and left in the dark.
It’s been three years Commissioners…the time to end secret meetings has come.
On behalf of over 7000 petition signatures
Washington Citizen Sportsmen
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