Salmon Homecoming Dedicated to Life and Memory of Billy Frank Jr.

AP images/Ted S. WarrenBilly Frank Jr. is seen here in January 2014.
AP images/Ted S. Warren
Billy Frank Jr. is seen here in January 2014.


Richard Walker, Indian Country Today


The 22nd annual Salmon Homecoming Celebration being held September 18 to 20 at Waterfront Park in Seattle, Washington is dedicated to the life and memory of the late Billy Frank Jr., Nisqually, longtime defender of treaty rights and chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

RELATED: Billy Frank Jr.: A World Treasure (1931 – 2014)

The celebration’s theme is “Man has responsibility, not power,” based on a traditional proverb of the Tuscarora Indian Nation.

Frank passed away on May 5 at the age of 83. He had been an adviser to and supporter of Salmon Homecoming throughout its history. “Billy understood the responsibility spoken about in that Tuscaroran proverb,” said Salmon Homecoming president Walter Pacheco, Muckleshoot. “He knew we are all responsible for the health of the salmon, the environment and the protection of the land, air and water.”

The event celebrates Native American culture and the importance of salmon—culturally, economically, environmentally and spiritually—to the people of the region. The celebration includes arts and crafts, environmental exhibits, visits to the Seattle Aquarium, storytellers, a salmon bake, a Northwest gathering and powwow, and a canoe welcoming event.

“For 22 years, the Salmon Homecoming Alliance has brought Native American culture and traditional environmental knowledge into the heart of Seattle, providing a unique opportunity for people from all walks of life to learn about and enjoy the many lessons and customs of the indigenous people of this land,” Pacheco said.

“It has always been our belief that everyone, regardless of age, gender or vocation is someone of great importance and—as the Tuscarora proverb indicates—has a responsibility to help take care of the land and natural resources needed to sustain future generations.”

Salmon Homecoming Celebration sponsors include Native American governments, the City of Seattle, the State of Washington and King County.



Tribes partner in marine survival research

Source: Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

Treaty Indian tribes have invested millions of dollars in hatchery programs and habitat restoration, but poor marine survival continues to stand in the way of salmon recovery.

Marine survival rates for many stocks of chinook, coho and steelhead that migrate through the Salish Sea are less than one-tenth of what they were 30 years ago.

“We have a solid understanding of the factors that affect salmon survival in fresh water,” said Terry Williams, commissioner of fisheries and natural resources for the Tulalip Tribes. “To improve ocean survival, we need a more complete understanding of the effects of the marine environment on salmon and steelhead.”

The Tulalip, Lummi, Nisqually and Port Gamble S’Klallam tribes are among the partners in the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, which also brings together state and federal agencies from the United States and Canada, educational institutions and salmon recovery groups. The Salish Sea is the name designated to the network of waterways between the southwestern tip of British Columbia and northwest Washington. It includes the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Strait of Georgia, the waters around the San Juan and Gulf islands, as well as Puget Sound.

Led by the non-profit Long Live the Kings and the Pacific Salmon Foundation, the project is coordinating and standardizing data collection to improve the sharing of information and help managers better understand the relationship between salmon and the marine environment.

The project is entering a five-year period of intensive research, after which the results will be converted into conclusions and management actions.

“A new collaborative approach is being taken,” Williams said. “The question is, what do we do with the information we have and how do we make predictions?”

For more information, visit the Long Live the Kings website.

Study launched to examine declining salmon runs

Bill Sheets, The Herald

Millions of dollars have been spent to restore fish habitat in Western Washington.

Property owners pay taxes to local governments to control stormwater runoff.

State government and tribal fisheries have put huge investments into hatcheries.

“While all that has been going on, we’ve seen a precipitous decline in the survival rate of both hatchery fish as well as wild fish,” said Phil Anderson, director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

That’s why the department, along with the Tulalip Tribes and 25 other organizations, are beginning a five-year study to determine why some species of salmon and trout are having trouble surviving their saltwater voyages.

The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, as it’s called, is an international effort. Canadian groups are agreeing to pay half of the estimated, eventual $20 million cost of the study.

The decline has been seen in fish runs both in Washington and British Columbia.

“The fish don’t know there’s a border,” said Mike Crewson, fisheries enhancement biologist for the Tulalip Tribes.

The marine survival rate for many stocks of Chinook and coho salmon, along with steelhead, has dropped more than 90 percent over the past 30 years, according to Long Live the Kings, a Seattle-based non-profit group formed around fish preservation.

Numbers for sockeye, chum, and pink salmon have varied widely over the same time period.

For some reason, many of these anadromous fish — those that spawn in fresh water and spend most of their lives at sea — are not doing well in saltwater, particularly in the inland waters of Western Washington.

The Snohomish and Skagit river systems have been hit particularly hard, Crewson said.

While there’s a solid understanding of the factors affecting salmon survival in fresh water, according to Long Live the Kings, the issues in the marine environment are more complex.

From what is known so far, the survival problem has been traced to a combination of factors. Pollution, climate change, loss of habitat and increased consumption of salmon by seals and sea lions are all playing a part, Tulalip tribal officials have said.

Tribes and government agencies have been collecting information on their own, but it hasn’t yet been put together into context, Crewson said.

That will be one benefit of the new study — synthesizing the work done so far, he said. More research will be done as well.

The Tulalips, for example, have two smolt traps they use to catch young fish to track their progress and survival rates. The tribe already spends about $500,000 per year on fish survival programs and will increase their sampling efforts as part of this study, Crewson said.

Other studies more focused on certain areas, such as a joint effort between the Tulalips and the Nisqually tribe focusing on the Snohomish and Nisqually river systems, will be folded into the larger effort, Crewson said.

“The survival’s especially poor in Puget Sound (as opposed to the open ocean),” he said. “We’re trying to figure out what’s different in Puget Sound.”

The state recently appropriated nearly $800,000 toward the new study. The Pacific Salmon Foundation, a Canadian group, has raised $750,000 to support project activities north of the border. That group is serving as the organizer for efforts there, as is Long Live the Kings on the American side.

The Pacific Salmon Commission, a joint Canadian-American organization formed to implement treaty agreements, is putting in $175,000.

The rest of the money will be raised as the study progresses, officials said. A report and action plan is expected after five years.

Tribes monitor Puget Sound for toxins

Nisqually natural resources technician Jimsan Dunstan samples water at Johnson Point in Olympia.
Nisqually natural resources technician Jimsan Dunstan samples water at Johnson Point in Olympia.

– Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

The Jamestown S’Klallam, Nisqually and Stillaguamish tribes are participating in the SoundToxins monitoring program to provide early warning of harmful algal blooms (HAB) and outbreaks of bacteria that could sicken humans.

“We want to make sure shellfish are safe to consume, not just for tribal members, but for all seafood consumers,” said Sue Shotwell, shellfish farm manager for the Nisqually Tribe.

During the shellfish growing season from March to October, tribal natural resources staff sample seawater weekly at designated sites. Additional sites across Puget Sound are monitored for toxin-producing algae by various citizen beach watchers, shellfish farmers, educational institutions and state government agencies. The monitoring results are posted in an online database.

The SoundToxins program helps narrow down the places where shellfish should be sampled for toxins, which is more expensive and time-consuming than testing the water.

“Just because we find algae that produce toxins doesn’t necessarily mean there are toxins in the seafood, but it could mean there will be soon,” said Stillaguamish marine and shellfish biologist Franchesca Perez. “If high numbers of an HAB species are found, then a sample of the water is sent to SoundToxins for further analysis, and appropriate parties are contacted to protect consumers and growers. We also look for Heterosigma, a flagellated plankton that causes fish kills.”

The Stillaguamish Tribe is sampling Kayak Point in Port Susan. Nisqually is monitoring the water at Johnson Point in Olympia, and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is taking its samples from the dock at Sequim Bay State Park, a popular shellfish harvesting site.

“Sequim Bay has had a number of harmful algal blooms historically,” said Neil Harrington, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe environmental biologist. “When we see the phytoplankton cells increase in the water column, we know to start increasing shellfish sampling for toxins.”

All three types of plankton that cause HABs in Puget Sound have been measured at toxic levels in Sequim Bay.

“The SoundToxins program aims to provide sufficient warning of HAB and Vibrio events to enable early or selective harvesting of seafood, thereby minimizing risks to human health and reducing economic losses to Puget Sound fisheries,” said Sound Toxins program director Vera Trainer of NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center.

SoundToxins is managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northwest Science Center, Washington Sea Grant and the Washington Department of Health.