Brought to light by our beloved friends at Moldy Chum, iconic Seattle waterfront restaurant Ray’s Boathouse has chosen to put wild steelhead on their menu and other in the area are also considering this option. Obviously propaganda in favor of this and in support of “sustainable wild steelhead” from the Olympic Peninsula is working and ours against it is not. Time for that to change, right now.
Below is the note sent to the restaurant by our good friend Pat Jenkins of Recycled Waders and the response from the Executive Chef who is obviously misinformed and willing to stand tall anyway, his contact info is at the bottom, please respond in kind:
It has come to my attention that your restaurant is serving wild steelhead from the Queets River (and presumably other rivers) from the Quinault Indian Tribe. Wild steelhead are endangered species act listed throughout much of their range in the United States. In Washington State, stocks of steelhead in the Columbia River, Snake River, and all of Puget Sound have been listed under the ESA within the last 20 years. Steelhead in other areas in Washington continue to decline. In coastal areas on the Olympic Peninsula where the Quinaults and other tribes fish, rivers are largely protected in the Olympic National Park, so freshwater habitat is in very good condition. Yet in recent years several of the rivers including the Hoh, Queets, Quileute (including the Sol Duc, Bogahciel and Calawah), and others, have failed to meet the minimum spawning escapement goals established by the state. The Hoh river has failed to meet its goal the majority of years recently, and in 2009 none of the above mentioned rivers met their goals, and the Queets missed its goal by more than 1/2, meaning that less than half the minimum number of fish needed to spawn to produce the next generation did so. This failure to meet escapement goals is a major conservation issue and could result in coastal stocks being ESA listed eventually too. Yet it is totally preventable. In all of the cases where escapement goals were not met, had tribal harvest been curtailed, escapement would have been met, meaning that the run was large enough to meet the goals but due to irresponsible and unsustainable tribal overharvest, the runs did not meet their goals. I am very disappointed to see your fine restaurant supporting this unsustainable harvest of wild steelhead and would ask that your restaurant take it off the menu immediately. All of the data I have referenced above is available from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife if you would like to see it for yourself. Please stop serving wild steelhead. Thank you.
Patrick Jenkins, Owner
Recycled Waders, LLC
Thank you for your concern regarding the Olympic Peninsula Steelhead that we are currently offering as a special in our restaurant. We agree 100% with your position that serving unsustainable, endangered and threatened fish is damaging to the future of wild fish and our environment. We actively support organizations, such as Long Live the Kings and Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, who work toward preserving our natural resources.
The Olympic Peninsula Steelhead that we are serving has been sustainability caught by the Quileute Tribe from the Quileute River and purchased through Key City Fish. The Steelhead is a combination of both hatchery and wild stock that has spawned naturally. Since November 1, 2010, we have served about 134 fish. Many Steelhead populations are indeed endangered or threatened and should absolutely be completely avoided, such as those on the California Coast, Oregon Coast, Snake River, and Puget Sound. However, the Olympic Peninsula Steelhead population is healthy, robust and absolutely not threatened. For confirmation of this please visit NOAA’s website at: http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/ESA-Salmon-Listings/Salmon-Populations/Steelhead/.
The Quileute Tribe is closely partnered with the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife to aggressively manage this fishery. The state and tribe worked together to produce the Salmon Stock Inventory (SaSI) in 1992. The SaSI is a critical document for wild fish recovery and definitively identifies the status of each wild stock in categories ranging from extinct to healthy. The state and tribe actively works with citizens to catalogue details about habitat and map fish stock distributions. I can assure you that everyone involved, from tribe to state to restaurant, has a vested interest in the preservation of this fish.
There is considerable conflict between sport and commercial fishermen regarding the regulation of steelhead fishing and we completely understand the frustrations of both sides. We want to stress, though, that the Olympic Peninsula Steelhead we have served was sustainably and legally caught according to the regulations set forth by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and is not endangered or threatened according to NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service.
Ray’s Boathouse would absolutely never serve endangered or threatened fish. Thank you for your feedback. Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Peter Birk, Executive Chef | Ray’s Boathouse, Café & Catering
6049 Seaview Avenue NW | Seattle, WA 98107
206.789.3770 | www.rays.com | email@example.com