Tribes worried about Lower Columbia harvest

PORTLAND — There is ongoing concern, particularly among Columbia River treaty tribes, that salmon fishing in the tidally influenced area of the river has too great an impact on how many may be retained above the dams.

“We all share in the production and harvest of these fish and now we are facing a serious situation,” Bruce Jim, Sr. of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation told fishery managers, according to the Columbia Basin Bulletin. “We need to start standing side by side to rebuild these populations. In times like these, you have to realize that your strongest ally is the tribes.”

“The 81,700 salmon forecast is far short of recovery goals,” Nathan Small of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe said. “Time is running out for numerous Snake River stocks. We’re seeing three fish into each tributary [Salmon River tributaries, such as Bear Creek] for an entire tribe and many hatcheries in Idaho will not be able to meet their broodstock production goals. Two Lower Columbia hatcheries are being protected — why not these?

“Spread out the fishing season rather than focus on the early fishery,” Small is quoted as saying by Columbia Basin Bulletin. “The Compact should focus on managing the fishery to assure early season passage at Bonneville. This is more than about allocations to the tribes or to recreational fishers, it is for the entire basin. We’ve said this for decades and now we look at a river of nothing.”

“I hear your anger and sadness,” Bill Tweit, special assistant with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “It’s tough sharing very small numbers.”

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