Unhooking the tension over salmon fishing
We must maintain co-management plan Tribe has been open, honest with the state
JEFF KOENINGS BY BEN JOHNSON JR.
Last updated: March 13th, 2005 02:40 AM
For nearly three decades, Washington citizens have benefited from successful fisheries co-management by treaty Indian tribes and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
This long-standing co-management relationship has allowed tribal and nontribal fishers to take part in a wide variety of sustainable fisheries for salmon, steelhead, halibut, shellfish and many other species in Western Washington. Science-based co-management is the process that allows sustainable fisheries to continue while weak stocks are protected.
Without an effective co-management relationship, far-reaching natural-resource protection initiatives, such as statewide salmon recovery and comprehensive hatchery reform, could not have been developed and implemented.
An excellent example of this successful approach is the preseason salmon-management effort that is currently under way. This “North of Falcon” process, so-named because it determines coastal salmon fisheries north of Cape Falcon, Ore., will result in a comprehensive package of science-based fishing seasons in 2005 into 2006 for tribal, commercial and recreational fishers when it concludes next month.
With more than 20 treaty tribes and state fisheries officials involved in the co-management process, as well as federal NOAA Fisheries officials, direct and timely communication is obviously essential.
The lack of direct communication between the Makah Tribe and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regarding the tribe’s 2004-05 winter treaty troll chinook salmon fishery catch was an unfortunate exception in this process.