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Worried Yet?

Motivated by my love of fly fishing for steelhead, and my desire to help preserve them and their habitat, I recently joined the board of the Wild Steelhead Coalition. Since joining I've had a chance to see first hand the hard work put forth by the volunteer advocates of these great fish and the places they return to every year. It is work bound together by a desire to save wild steelhead and all to often it seems like a losing fight.

I'd like to make a personal appeal to the entire Chum nation to read the five actions you can take to help save wild steelhead and consider joining the Wild Steelhead Coalition. Every contribution is critical, every voice is vital - and your voice could make a difference.


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Reader Comments (19)

i am certainly concerned, but being in MI my worries at the moment involve the obama administration's weak response to the asian carp threat

February 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLushLife

Wow, a group that's trying to hold tribes accountable for their impact on fisheries. . . That's something I could donate too. Get something like that on the Columbia and it's trib's and I would even join.

February 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterstc

You know, I have supported WSC in voice for a long time and have thought about joining because it's something I'm passionate about, but to be honest, I haven't done it. Now's the time to change that. I join this month.

February 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTeeg

All commercial harvesting of wild steelhead must be banned. The Native (tribal) fisheries must be stopped. Gill-netting in rivers is bullshit. The old days are over. Wild steel are far more valuable for sport than they are for food! Without 'em some of us might not make it...

February 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSpeyDog

Uh... WTF!!!

You want the Tribes to starve to death so you can get your rocks off catching fish? Your fishing is more important than food?

February 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHillary Clinton

Yes, historically the tribes are starving to death because they can't net enough steelhead to feed their own people according to text in the Boldt Decision:

[Tr. 604, l. 14-22] State authorities have persistently tried to stop Quileutes from shipping their steelhead to market. The [**156] result is that the Quileutes have to ship them by air. [Tr. 3194, l. 17 to 3195, l. 5]

February 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBen G

so... let me get this straight. the tribes would STARVE without netting steelhead in rivers??? seriously? anyone who buys, sells, or eats wild steelhead should be ashamed of themselves, bonked, and put in a smoker. It's like saying natives in the congo would starve without the ability to sell gorilla hands as ashtrays. doesn't make it ok. Let's just quit pissing and moaning about pebble because the natives will benefit if that's the case.

February 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKJC

Fun fact: The natives arent the ones who fucked it all up.

February 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEchinsu Ocha

The natives aren't the ones who fucked it all up in the first place but they certainly aren't un-fucking it now. Part of the problem or part of the solution?

Wild Steelhead being sold for pennies (compared to what has been spent on restoration) is hardly the only thing keeping tribal members from starving.

February 25, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterstc

The solution is clear. The wild steelhead should be for native use only.

February 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHillary Clinton

Ya, its pretty hypocritical to go in there saying, "Hey guys, we fucked up these steelhead runs for everyone so we are going to have to ask you to stop doing what you have done for generations. Oh yeah, but we still want to sportfish for them. Cool? Cool!"

The treaty tribes are the only people in Washington State that have the right to fish. For the rest of us, fishing is a privilege. Their right was upheld by the US Supreme Court and that right cannot be taken away without an act of Congress. In the case of the Skagit, at least, the couple hundred native fish they take--per their right--amounts to only a drop in the bucket and has no impact on conservation of the species. As for the OP tribes, I do believe they take a larger number of native fish, but that is neither here nor there because it is their right to do so.

The fact of the matter is: we (me included) are, or are descended from, parasites. We damned the rivers; we polluted the streams; we over fished the runs; we degraded habitat with logging and pollution; we destroyed the ecosystem in Puget Sound; we set up the fish farms; and we de-water the rivers for drinking and irrigation needs. Not them.

Part of the solution, my ass. Focus on the real objective and stop trying to place blame on those not responsible. Just remember, they dont want to see these runs destroyed either. After all, these runs have been their lifeblood for countless generations. Whether or not they need to keep living the way they have always lived is not up for debate--it is their RIGHT. Let's instead focus on cleaning up our own fucking mess.

February 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEchinsu Ocha

You make valid points about how we have arrived at the current situation. You're also right when you say that the interests of fisherman and the tribes are theoretically aligned.

The Boldt Decision is the tribes' trump card in every situation. I feel that you're incorrect in stating that the tribes are the only ones with the right to fish. Here is Boldt's interpretation:

By dictionary definition and as intended and used in the Indian treaties and in this decision, 'in common with' means sharing equally the opportunity to take fish…therefore, non-treaty fishermen shall have the opportunity to take up to 50% of the harvestable number of fish…and treaty right fishermen shall have the opportunity to take up to the same percentage.

That doesn't grant exclusive right to the fishery to treaty tribes best I can tell.

That Decision also makes the tribes equal co-managers of the fishery resource. It is my opinion (and that of many others) that with their current practices they are not effectively fulfilling that role when it comes to wild fish conservation. It's a bit absurd (and certainly not effective fishery management) when tribes continue to net wild steelhead when the WDFW deems that the run is too fragile for even C&R sport fishing.

February 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBen G

The Boldt Decision is not going away, so whether you agree with it or not makes very little difference. What I think we can do, though, is figure out ways to find common ground and try to work together with the tribes, within the framework of existing law.

I think that all of us who care about the fish--and I mean ALL--need to come at the problems together if we're going to have any success at all against the forces that don't give a crap about fish. Sport anglers, tribes, commercial fishermen...we all want fish. Which ought to put us on the same side instead of fighting amongst ourselves. Sure there are differences between us about allocation, harvest, etc, but these are less important than the differences between us (the fish people) and developers, timber harvesters, mining companies, aluminum smelters, etc.

The really impressive thing to me about the small victories wild fish advocates have had up in BC, such as the ban on North Coast fish farms and the slowdown of Royal Dutch Shell's plans to extract coalbed methane, is that the coalitions that fought these destructive forces were made up of tribes, sport anglers, local businesses, conservation foundations working together. In the two cases listed above, the protests were in fact lead by the tribes and supported by the rest of us. If we had that kind of cooperation here, I think we'd be making a lot more headway instead of constantly shooting ourselves in the feet like we seem to do. Pretty cool idea, don't you think? Imagine the power we'd have. the interest of truly making a difference, I think we ought to quit wasting time and breath bashing the tribes, and instead, try to find some ways we can work together. It's difficult, I know. The "foregone opportunity" component of Boldt tends to create a divisive atmosphere, and the sight of nets in rivers and wild steelhead in the market can cause a lot of hard feelings from the sport anglers. And the sight of us "playing with our food" for pure recreation creates a lot of hard feelings from the tribes.

But I believe that when we get right down to it, healthy runs of wild fish benefit all of us--the sport anglers, the tribes and the commercials. Which is to say, we don't have to look very hard to find common ground--it's right in front of us, swimming upstream and hopefully spawning. Let's get together and try to ensure there will be more in the future.



February 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDylan Tomine

I won't even start on all the hypocracy and obvious lack of common sense surrounding fishing practice in washington. The wild stocks need to be preserved in every way possible. The natives need to wake up or they aren't going to be netting anything but whitties. It doesn't matter who has a "right" according to a law, this is bigger than that. Right now everyone is loosing! We all need to work together to help wild fish survive. They will rebound if allowed to. Hey natives.... we are natives now too, maybe it's time to JOIN THE GLOBE and try to save these fish. This isn't a race thing it is a human thing.

February 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJess K

Firstly, this:

"They will rebound if allowed to."

Is pretty much wrong. The best evidence points to early marine survival being the culprit. Most smolt do not make it past the first few days or weeks of hitting the ocean. Gill netting or no, there is no fucking way the fish are going to rebound if the smolt cannot survive at sea. Figure out the cause--though easier said than done--and work on the solution.

Firstly, this:

"This isn't a race thing it is a human thing."

Is a crock of shit. Who the fuck are you to tell a group of people, one that has lived in the same place and preserved the same traditions for generations, how to live their lives? Race was never mentioned...what was mentioned, however, was that this group of people, this culture, should be allowed to maintain their ideals and traditions. Saying, 'Your way, the way of your people, is wrong. Do it my way, conform to me', is at the very least discriminatory and quite possibly racist in its own right.

Native, my ass. You are as native as any one of the hatchery atlantic salmon off the coast of Vancouver Island.

February 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEchinsu Ocha

times change... culture hujh? so by your definition, Abe Lincoln was out of line. bet there are some who would disagree...

February 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKJC

Hey: What about buying out the treaty rights? Maybe a few fish get scooped up for traditions sake, but mostly, at this point, it is an economic issue, right? The ASF has had great success buying out commercial fishing in Iceland, Ireland and Scotland. Any room to negotiate with the tribes about compensation for not netting. If it is a treaty right, they could refrain for a cost.

Maybe close a hatchery and use that funding to buy out tribal nets.

Also: Any non-discriminating netting and by-catch is destructive to recruitment goals, weather it is natives or white dudes.

February 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSlint

The wild steel is for the hard workers at all the casinos and tribal smoke/firewater shops. They need that fish for the pow-wow in the sweat lodge tonight.

February 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTiger

In order for the fish to survive, we "all" have to make changes. Including the "native's". I don't care how long a group of people have been in a certain area. If there is something wrong with the river, regulations have to be made as do changes. Everyone has to work together. I know it's easier said than done. But if you don't, You're beloved rivers in Washington will end up like our rivers did in Northern California in the 70's. I thought we are supposed to learn from our mistakes? Overharvest makes an impact on a watershed! All folks need to watch the film, Rivers of a Lost Coast. Fishermen, Natives, Wildlife buffs, ect. In todays world, practicing traditional and Native methods of fishing without compromise or special regulations are complete forms of ignorance and selfishness! Wake up!!!!

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFly Fishing Norcal

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