TAHOLAH, WA (2/18/14)— “I am extremely disappointed that the State Fish and Wildlife Commission has chosen to unilaterally develop a management policy for Grays Harbor salmon,” said Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation. Her comment referred to a recent news release in which the Commission announced its February 8 approval of a new salmon-management policy to conserve wild salmon runs and clarify catch guidelines for sport and commercial fisheries in the bay.
“As co-managers, the Quinault Nation and State should be working collaboratively and cooperatively to conserve Grays Harbor salmon. Yet the Commission didn’t even bother to meet with us. The Commission’s plan is a stark reminder of the decades-long battles in the federal courts which found that the so-called ‘conservation’ actions of the State of Washington were in fact ‘wise use’ decisions that unlawfully discriminated against treaty fishing. It is inconceivable that today, some 40 years after the decision of Judge Boldt in US v Washington, the Commission would still choose to ignore tribal rights and interests,” said Sharp.
“Quinault Nation has consistently demonstrated leadership in habitat restoration, enhancement and all aspects of good stewardship. The State’s pursuit of fish-killing dams in the Chehalis River and the Commission’s actions reflect continuation of a disturbing pattern. Rather than confronting the major threat to natural fish production in the Grays Harbor Basin, destruction and degradation of habitats, the Commission has chosen to focus on harvest by a small segment of the fishing community. The State also continues to ignore the orders of federal courts. Proper management of Grays Harbor fishery resources requires a comprehensive and cohesive approach developed through collaborative processes at state/tribal, regional and even international levels. By acting on its own, the Commission violated the principles of cooperation and trust and even such agreements as the Centennial Accord. While the Commission’s policy can’t apply to our fisheries, implementation of the Commission’s policy could well set the stage for future conflict and confrontation,” said President Sharp.