Our Response Statement To Fish Not Gold
Who are we, and what are we about?
First and foremost, we are about education!
Resources Coalition came out of the small scale mining community and our goal is a balanced approach to use of our natural resources.
We strive to protect our rights, those that made our country great.
We at Resources Coalition do not advocate restricting or stopping the use of any resource of any other user group and we have always reached out to all who also enjoy our great public lands.
Yet, for the first time, we find ourselves in a perplexing situation where a specific user group has made a decision to place what they call moderate restrictions on small-scale prospecting and mining and have called for an outright ban on suction dredging in Washington State based on misinformation and their importing of the same propaganda that has California tied up in a legal quagmire costing that state and miners untold millions of dollars.
It is completely unfathomable to us why such action would even be considered by citizens of this great state during these current rough economic times!
Who Is This Anti-Mining Group
At the core of the campaign against small-scale prospecting, mining and suction dredging in Washington State we find specific elements about this group which bears closer examination so that we may understand who, what and why they are such adamant opponents of what we do.
Fish Not Gold has had its beginning traced to a popular fly fishing discussion forum based in Washington State. We know that this particular discussion forum as a whole does not represent the views of Fish Not Gold. Fish Not Gold and their core supporters have the preference of using the catch and release practice of recreational fishing for wild Steelhead, an ESA listed species with the intention of conservation by use of this technique.We also know that they align themselves with groups that advocate restoring wild fish populations, specifically Steelhead and they believe that the WDFW use of hatchery fish supplementation is harmful to their cause. And finally, that they were behind HB 2579 13-14 known as the “give fish a chance act” which if had been passed would have closed suction dredging on all ESA or critical habitat rivers in Washington State and imposed a $150.00 fee permit to perform any other form of small-scale prospecting .
Summing Them Up In One Sentence
Fish Not Gold is a group of catch and release fly fishermen and women who recreationally fish for ESA listed Steelhead they wish to protect from extinction while claiming that Washington State, specifically the WDFW, does not provide adequate safeguards for ESA listed species from small-scale miners.
Protecting Fish And Their Habitat Is Paramount
Resources Coalition and all of the Small-Scale Prospecting Clubs and Associations of Washington State share the same concerns for not only ESA listed species, but all aquatic life. The Small-Scale Prospecting Clubs and Associations of the state also have many members that enjoy fishing in all of its many aspects. We all understand that there are rules to follow and that those rules have only one purpose, to protect fish and their habitats as described in the permit issued by the state, the Gold and Fish pamphlet and any HPA’s that may be approved at the discretion of the WDFW under authority of the state.
Let’s Look At The Cold Hard Truth
Fishing is a Blood Sport.
Small-Scale Mining is Not!
Fishing Kills ESA Listed Fish.
Small-Scale Mining is Regulated to Prevent Harm to All Fish.
With each cast of the fly, one hopes to land that trophy fish…
It’s not always the trophy fish that is hungry!
The practice of catch and release recreational fly fishing is known to have some percentage of mortality, although incidental, it happens and it happens to ESA listed fish without discrimination, including ESA listed wild Steelhead. The honest truth is that many more ESA listed fish are senselessly killed unintentionally than most will ever admit!
It is a proven fact that recreational fly fishing does cause loss of life of ESA listed species, so why does Fish Not Gold not condemn itself for what they would lead us to believe is an egregious act if it were true of suction dredging? We at Resources Coalition and the Small-Scale Miners of Washington State would like to ask you that if it is truly about saving our Washington State Fish, the Steelhead, why you wouldn’t hold yourselves to a higher moral standard and stop the needless destruction of the wild Steelhead?
The smallest of the ESA listed fish are the most vulnerable to mortality with each cast of the fly!
Always Be Careful What You Ask For
It is easy to look around and blame others for just about anything life has to throw at us. It is important that when you start throwing stones at others to be sure that your house is not made of glass. It sometimes brings unintentional consequences and causes the spotlight to be turned back at you! Recent events in the news and by your own confirmed affiliation indicates that you are aligned with the group that settled with the WDFW over Puget Sound rivers releasing of Chambers Creek hatchery steelhead. There are a whole lot of angry Steelhead fishermen and there will be many more to come in the next few years.
Do You Think This Is A Fair Statement?
Fly fishermen are killing Washington's ESA listed wild Steelhead, one fish at a time, hundreds of thousands of times a day, day after day after day.
It is the same as your statement shown below about miners on your website, just reworded to reflect the damage of your activity!
“Miners are damaging Washington's streams, one pebble at a time, hundreds of thousands of times a day, day after day after day.”
Your campaign manager continues to return to the same stretch of ESA listed stream although for years she has known and has been told of the small sized fish present, and confirms in her own words in August of 2011; “…there are fish in the streams, smallish, willing to slash at anything” which was in regard to Shaser and Scotty Creeks, tributaries to Peshastin Creek. It makes one wonder how many ESA listed wild Steelhead were sacrificed over those few years at her hand! And since Peshastin Creek and those feeders streams have a high concentration of federal mining claims which have been mined for well over a century, if the mining was so deleterious to the fish life, why then do they exist there, in spite of your campaign manager yanking them out of the water.
Fish Not Gold, your statement of March 16, 2014 begs for the complete banning of what you so dearly love as you seek to shut down suction dredging in ESA listed waters in Washington State, because we know your true intent will include all waters:
“When we talk about streams that are closed due to ESA listed species, it's because the species in those waters are too fragile to survive even catch and release fishing pressure.”
Fish Not Gold, you have an excellent point and we finally agree on something, if they are too fragile for suction dredging which does not kill fish, then they must also be too fragile to survive even catch and release fishing pressure that does kill ESA listed fish. If you need help adding that into your proposed legislation, I am sure we can find a volunteer to help write the appropriate verbiage to get that accomplished!
We strive to protect our rights, those that made our country great!
As stated above, we at Resources Coalition do not advocate restricting or stopping any other user group. We would prefer that you take time to look into the mirror and ask yourselves some very tough questions. Our expectation that you will change is not very high, however if we have caused you to take a moment to sincerely reflect on the whole picture and not just your point of view, we will accept that as a positive!
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Catch and Release?
Debate: Is Catch-and-Release Over-Hyped?
"We know, for example, that despite best practices, some fish die after they are released. If that’s five percent, you tell me who’s stressing the resource more–the guide who catches and releases 30 fish a day five days a week, or the weekend warrior who catches a couple to eat (perhaps even with lures!)? How many fish are killed for the photo op, though the angler doesn’t realize it at the time, and releases the fish with a clear conscience after the gripping and grinning ends?"
Trout Unlimited (2012)
Catch-and-release angling: A review with guidelines for proper fish handling practices
"The impact of mortality caused by catch-and-release practices is often underestimated by both anglers and fishery managers. From a review of 118 catch-and-release studies (Appendix 1), which, in total, involved over 120,000 fish, the average mortality associated with catch-and-release angling was 16.2%."
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (2005)
Swimming Performance of Brook Trout after Simulated Catch and Release Angling: Looking for Air Exposure Thresholds
"Survival after 12h was 100% in control fish and 88% in the exercised fish, but fell to 62 and 28% in fish which were air exposed for 30 and 60s, respectively, after exercise. These results indicate that the brief period of air exposure which occurs in many ’catch and release’ fisheries is a significant additional stress which may ultimately influence whether a released fish survives."
North American Journal of Fisheries Management (2005)
Physiological response of wild rainbow trout to angling: impact of
angling duration, fish size, body condition, and temperature
Studies have found mortality from exhaustive
exercise to manifest in hours to several days
after the exercise event (Black, 1958; Dotson, 1982;
Brobbel et al., 1996;Wilkie et al., 1996). Although minimal
immediate mortality was observed in this study,
it is difficult to predict the recovery times or delayed
mortality rates of captured fish because they were not
held after capture for observation or repeat sampling.
United States Geological Survey (2004)
J.M. Meka, S.D. McCormick / Fisheries Research
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Our next and biggest event of the year:
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Friday August 21 through Sunday August 23, 2015
We hope to see you there!