The annual Anacortes Salmon Derby, scheduled for late March, has been cancelled as Derby organizers received the official announcement of a severe curtailment of opportunity in the area around the San Juan Islands called Marine Area 7.
The Anacortes Salmon Derby was not the only casualty, as several derbies were affected as well - the Roche Harbor Derby was nearly canceled - the month-long Frank Wilson Memorial Derby (Friday Harbor, WA) which was - and the shrinking of fishing boundaries for the Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby (Gardiner, WA).
“Going forward, the prospects of abbreviated, uncertain seasons, could negatively affect the long-term viability of the Anacortes Salmon Derby” said Jay Field, Derby Board Chairman. He added, “The Board of Directors have decided to take the hatchet to the derby this year. An uncertain season, now and in the future, just might have struck a death knell for this classic event.”
Anacortes Derby Sec’y/Treasurer Mark Schinman remarked “If this action would have taken place a few weeks from now, our organization would have taken a huge financial hit. As it stands, we will lose a little money, but at least we will not have to suffer the administrative nightmare of issuing 1,000 ticket refunds.” He went on to say “It’s a real shame. The local economy loses a rare economic opportunity, as well as deserving students who could have benefited from another round of scholarships and grants.”
It appears that recreational anglers were a victim of their own success by meeting pre-season quotas modeled around encounters with wild and Endangered Species Act listed stocks. As the result of sampling data collected by a WDFW winter test fishery (hook and line), creel counts, trip reports, and aerial surveys, it was determined that an emergency, in-season closure was required in order to comply with the Puget Sound ESA Salmon Recovery Plan.
Rob Endsley, long time Anacortes Derby supporter and ESPN Radio co-host said “ It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but until all stakeholders can agree to manage the winter Blackmouth fishery in a more holistic manner – viewing the fish in Puget Sound and Northern Inland waters as a roving biomass - it is likely we’ll see emergency closures again unless we can manage quotas as an aggregate, across adjacent marine areas.”
Hosted by volunteer members of the Fidalgo-San Juan Islands Chapter of the Puget Sound Anglers, this event raised needed funds for scholarships that benefit students pursuing careers in fishery management and related science. Nearly $260,000 in scholarships and grants have been awarded to date. Sadly, there’ll be no scholarships awarded in 2015.
For more information, please go to: anacortessalmonderby.com.