New WDFW Director
In 2018, Washington State appointed Kelly Susewind as the new Director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and one of the first things he did was to call a series of public meetings to discuss the many issues in front of the Department. One of those public meetings was to be held at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, and FISH immediately contacted his office to see if he would attend a private meeting with FISH on the same day. We met with Director Susewind (he prefers ‘Kelly’) and two of his staff in December. Darin Combs, Issaquah Hatchery manager, joined Robin Kelley, Kelly Richardson (so many Kellys!) and Larry Franks in this mutual sharing of plans and priorities. FISH shared the desire to identify and execute plans that could make a significant contribution to the return of adult salmon to our hatchery, which should certainly benefit fishers of all sorts, from orcas, to commercial harvest, to sport fishers and the Muckleshoot Tribe.
FISH identified a particular problem experienced by our fish in their trek to the sea: only 8 to 11 percent of the smolt we release survive to make it to Shilshole Bay. The Department was familiar with this high risk, and we asked them to consider measures to mitigate the predation on our smolt in Lake Sammamish. Any action to this effect would also benefit the numerous kokanee restoration efforts, as well. We had one follow-up meeting in January, and more are scheduled later in the month. The Department has been very receptive to the ideas that FISH is bringing forth, but is always looking for more data, especially to establish that Lake Sammamish predation reduction is the best path forward at this time. The Department links the probable success of this venture to the passage of Governor Inslee’s budget proposal to fund the Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force recommendations.