Hooked: Swinomish Fish Co. Supplying Salmon for Haggen Supermarkets

Bridget Besaw / Swinomish Tribe ArchiveMike Cladoosby and Kevin Day Sr. are Swinomish fishermen. The Swinomish Fish Company, a tribe-owned business that buys their catch, has an agreement to supply fish to Haggen, a supermarket chain.

Bridget Besaw / Swinomish Tribe Archive
Mike Cladoosby and Kevin Day Sr. are Swinomish fishermen. The Swinomish Fish Company, a tribe-owned business that buys their catch, has an agreement to supply fish to Haggen, a supermarket chain.

Richard Walker, Indian Country Today

Swinomish Fish Company, owned by the Swinomish Tribe, is supplying Baker Lake spring chinook salmon to the largest independent grocery retailer in the Pacific Northwest.

Haggen Food & Pharmacy has 164 stores in Washington and Oregon, as well as California, Arizona and Nevada. Haggen’s seafood buyer, Amber Thunder Eagle, spent the winter meeting local fish companies and making arrangements for a spring catch to be delivered to Haggen’s seafood cases.

It’s as much a story about habitat restoration and resource management as it is economic development. For thousands of years, Swinomish ancestors living in villages along the Skagit and Baker rivers harvested salmon to meet the people’s dietary, ceremonial and trade needs: chinook from April to June; sockeye from June to August, pinks during odd-numbered years from July to September, and chum from September to November. The ancestors used weirs and traps, nets, spears, and hook-and-line to take salmon and other fish.

The 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott made land in this region available for non-Native settlement. The ancestors did not give up their people’s right to harvest salmon on the Skagit and Baker rivers. But in the post-treaty years, new industries – logging, mining, farming — took their toll on the rivers and the salmon. Dams built in the 1920s and 1950s to generate electricity, impeded salmon migration.“Rail lines and logging roads … increased sedimentation in the gravel beds used for spawning,” the Historical Research Associates report states. “In some instances, road embankments spilled directly into stream channels through landslides … Timber harvest methods, such as clearcutting, similarly proved damaging to fish habitat [by] increasing turbidity and sedimentation from erosion  …”

In the 1890s, salmon runs were estimated at 20,000, by the time the first dam was built, that was down to 15,000. By 1985, only 99 spring chinook returned to spawn, according to the Historical Research Associates report.

But the health of the run rebounded, thanks to years of habitat restoration and resource management efforts, and conveyance systems that help salmon get to ancestral spawning grounds upstream of Lower and Upper Baker dams. In 2012, a record-high return was recorded with more than 48,000 fish returning to spawn, according to the Swinomish Tribe. The forecast for this year’s spring chinook run was 35,000; the summer sockeye run projection is 46,268, according to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.

“We’re grateful for the restoration of the Baker Lake run,” Swinomish Fish Company vice president Everette Anderson said in an announcement of the Haggen contract. “The community who made this possible are steadfast in the preservation of this run, which will benefit the people of Washington for generations.”

According to the Swinomish Tribe, the Swinomish Fish Companyis the largest Native American-owned seafood wholesaler, retailer and custom processing plant in the United States. Its brand, NativeCatch, is all-natural, wild, and sustainably harvested, and distributed around the world.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/06/25/hooked-swinomish-fish-co-supplying-salmon-haggen-supermarkets-160857

New Judge To Hear Arguments On Columbia River Dams And Salmon

The first powerhouse of the Bonneville Dam, 40 miles east of Portland, on the Columbia River.WikiCommons

The first powerhouse of the Bonneville Dam, 40 miles east of Portland, on the Columbia River.
WikiCommons

 

by Cassandra Profita, OPB/EarthFix

 

The longstanding legal battle over maintaining dams and salmon in the Columbia River is back in court this week. On Tuesday, a new judge will hear arguments on the Obama administration’s latest salmon plan.

Conservation groups along with the state of Oregon and the Nez Perce Tribe have challenged the 2014 biological opinion, or BiOp, that guides dam operations. They’ll argue their case before Oregon U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon, who took over the case when Judge James Redden retired.

The question behind the case:  how to offset the impacts of Columbia River dams on threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead. That question has been subject to more than 20 years of legal conflict. Tuesday’s hearing is a continuation of a lawsuit that was filed in 2001.

Federal agencies that run the Columbia River hydropower system have submitted several salmon protection plans under the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, but they’ve all been challenged and ultimately rejected in court. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Bonneville Power Administration will defend their 2014 plan on Tuesday.

Supporters of the plan say strong salmon returns in recent years prove the latest plan is working. But opponents say it doesn’t do much more to protect salmon than previous plans already struck down by the courts.

Before retiring, Redden rejected the Obama administration’s 2011 salmon plan. After announcing he would step down from presiding over the case, he said in an interview that the four dams on the lower Snake River should be removed as a way to help struggling salmon runs. He also supported spilling more water over dams and increasing water flows to help young salmon and steelhead migrate to the ocean.

Joseph Bogaard, executive director of the plaintiff group Save Our Wild Salmon, said the administration’s new plan doesn’t consider Redden’s recommendations, and it actually allows the government to reduce the amount of water spilled over dams to help fish.

“So, they’re moving in the wrong direction,” he said. “In many ways this plan is simply just a recycled version of the plan that was invalidated by the court in 2011. Though, this plan actually allows for a reduction in spill. So, in that regard the new pan is actually weaker than the plan it seeks to replace.”

Terry Flores of Northwest RiverPartners represents commerce and industry groups that defend dams on the Columbia and lower Snake rivers. She said the current salmon plan does a lot to help salmon, including investing around $100 million a year in habitat restoration.  High rates of salmon survival show that the plan is working, she said, including the amount of water being spilled over dams to help fish.

“We’re seeing incredible results,” she said. “The federal agencies did look at the spill program and reached the conclusion that it’s working very well. It wasn’t like they didn’t look at it. They looked at it and said it is absolutely working.”

Flores said only Congress can address the removal of the lower Snake River dams.

How to save wild salmon with a fork and knife

Copper River salmon from Alaska (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

Copper River salmon from Alaska (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

If we demand wild salmon on our plates, we are demanding healthy habitat where wild salmon can thrive in perpetuity.

By  Mark Titus and Tom Douglas, Seattle Times

IT’S time to save wild salmon — by eating them.

This seems counterintuitive. Why would we kill wild salmon if we are hoping to save them? The fact is, salmon are big business and consumers wield tremendous power through their purchasing decisions. When you buy and eat wild salmon, you are investing your dollars in our nation’s sustainable wild-salmon fisheries.

On June 4, U.S. District Court Judge H. Russel Holland released a ruling in a lawsuit filed by the Pebble Partnership against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Pebble has plans to build North America’s largest open-pit copper mine in the headwaters of Bristol Bay in Alaska — home to North America’s largest remaining wild-salmon runs. The EPA’s involvement in Bristol Bay came at the request of tribes, commercial fishermen, sportsmen and business owners, but the court ruling earlier this month temporarily keeps efforts to protect Bristol Bay through the Clean Water Act on hold.

So what can be done in the meantime to protect this world-class resource?

First, educate your family and friends about wild salmon.

This spring, in partnership with commercial and sport fishermen, Alaska Native residents, chefs and conservationists, we completed a national tour of “The Breach,” a documentary film about the history and future of our last great wild-salmon runs. As a filmmaker and former Alaska salmon fishing guide, and a chef who serves wild salmon, we are both motivated by wild salmon economically. But it’s more than that.

We, like most people living in this part of the world, revere salmon as the iconic keystone species they are. They’re not simply a product to be pumped out of a factory — they are the very lifeblood for 137 different creatures when they return to our rivers and streams with the ocean’s nutrients inside them. They are an irreplaceable part of our Northwest landscape — they’re even inside the trees. And yet their future here remains uncertain.

As “King of Fish” author David R. Montgomery says in the documentary film, “We haven’t done a particularly good job of protecting the resource when it comes to wild salmon.” That’s true.

Historically, European and American settlers overfished wild salmon until their numbers crashed. Worse, salmon spawning rivers were destroyed when they were dammed, polluted and scoured by rapacious logging and mining practices. Hatcheries and open-net-pen fish farms designed to mitigate this damage have in the long run actually caused more.

Thankfully, there are some healthy runs of wild salmon left — and great strides under way — such as the removal of the two Elwha River dams, which provide real hope for seeing wild salmon return. But of all the fully sustainable wild-salmon runs remaining in North America, none are as strong or as vital as the runs in Bristol Bay in Alaska.

Unfortunately, instead of listening to science and the opinions of 65 percent of Alaskans, the Pebble Limited Partnership decided to sue the EPA and delay the protection process that millions of Americans have asked for.

 Within weeks, more than 50 million wild sockeye salmon will return to Bristol Bay — the most in decades. Alaskan salmon are protected by the most stringent management practices in the world. In fact, protection of salmon was mandated by law in Alaska’s constitution in 1959.
When we purchase wild salmon, we’re purchasing a food source that is the same as it’s been for millennia — fed by the krill and currents of the open ocean. It’s nutritious and sustainable — and in Bristol Bay alone, provides 14,000 jobs on the West Coast, to the tune of $1.5 billion to the American economy. That simply can’t be said about other non-wild salmon options in the marketplace.

The choices we make with our forks and our dollars will affect what remains for future generations. If we demand wild salmon on our plates, we are demanding healthy habitat where wild salmon can thrive in perpetuity. And wild Bristol Bay sockeye can be purchased year-round, flash frozen or canned, with the same nutrients, quality and flavor as the day it was pulled out of the water — for a price affordable to most.

 At the end of “The Breach,” Montgomery finishes his statement about human interaction with wild salmon by telling us, “If we don’t get Alaska right, we may have a clean sweep of getting it wrong.”

So what can else can we do?

Telling the Obama administration how we feel about wild salmon in Bristol Bay is the next best thing. But fundamentally, if we revere wild salmon — as 90 percent of us say we do here in the Pacific Northwest — we need to pick up our fork and insist they remain, by eating them.

 

A writer and director, Mark Titus recently directed “The Breach,” an award-winning documentary about wild Pacific salmon. Tom Douglas, a chef and owner of a diverse group of Seattle restaurants, co-produced “The Breach.”

Aspiring Artist Leaves Job, Follows Dream

By Kim Kalliber, Tulalip News 

Jennifer Tracy. Photo courtesy Jennifer Tracy

Jennifer Tracy.
Photo courtesy Jennifer Tracy

 

Meet Jennifer Tracy, an up-and-coming artist from Tulalip, trying to break into the mainstream and leave that whole working nine to five thing behind her.

During a leave from work due to health reasons, Tracy decided to reconnect with her culture through painting, and her new career was launched.

A self-taught artist, Tracy’s Native background and good business sense help to keep her small business growing while she formulates her unique, artistic style.

Jennifer’s mother is Sandy Tracy, and her grandparents are the late B. Adam and Marge Williams, all Tulalip Tribal members.

 

Photo/Jennifer Tracy

Photo/Jennifer Tracy

 

Tell us about your introduction into the world of art? 

I have always had an interest in learning about the world we live in. I found, for me, seeing the world not only by my personal experience, but also by learning about people through their culture helped me to see the beauty in all things. One of the best things about growing up in Tulalip, I was able to live in a unique cultural area.  I was able to attend pow wows, salmon ceremonies, and I got to dance in the Johnny Moses Dance Club to name a few things. As a child I would listen to stories passed down by our elders, which taught me a bit about the life of our ancestors, our connection to spirit and nature.

 

What is the primary medium in your art? 

I primarily paint with acrylics, but I am incorporating other mediums as well, such as oil paint, watercolor, and spray-paint. I paint on canvases, wood rounds, paddles, drums, ornaments and cloth. I basically am open to trying new things as often as opportunity allows.  I also taught myself to bead, which is a lot of fun.

 

Photo/Jennifer Tracy

Photo/Jennifer Tracy

 

What is your creative process like?

I do a lot of “research” throughout the year. I visit every museum, gallery and art show that I can find. I get inspired by different types of art, seeing what is being done in other genres. I get a lot of input from people as well, as far as what it is they like, what they would like to see, things they think would make great pictures. As I begin, I have an animal or two to concentrate on, I picture in my head what I would like it to look like, and then I do some sketches. When it feels complete I begin the process of picking a color scheme and then paint.

 

Photo/Jennifer Tracy

Photo/Jennifer Tracy

 

Creative blocks can be an artist’s nightmare. Have you had them and how do you get the creative juices flowing again? 

Oh yes I do get creative blocks from time to time. There have been times when I cannot think of a thing, or a design just doesn’t feel like it will ever be done, when this happens I get out in nature, clear my head, or get some exercise. Remind myself that it can be finished; it will look right when I am done. I really try not to let my own thinking get in my way.

 

What prompted you to leave your career and strike out as an independent artist? 

After high school I had the opportunity to work for the casino, which was basically where I stayed for the next 18 years. During this time I slowly felt more and more disconnected from my culture. With working the weekends, odd hours, and overtime I had very little time or energy for other things. In 2008 I had a surgery, which I had to take a couple weeks off work for. During this time I decided to reconnect in my own way to my culture. I focused on painting native design, and it was not easy at first. I have never taken an art class so when people ask about techniques and specifics about how I come up with my drawings it is a little difficult to answer. I see a design in my head and go from there. I keep a pencil and a ruler on my work table for sketching my designs.  My style tends to be a mix of traditional and modern design.

I began selling my artwork in 2009 to family and friends.  Then I began to sell at the Annual Christmas Bazaar and local pow wows where I was able to really get my work out and get feedback from more and more people.  I left my job in September 2014 to become a full time artist. Super scary to take the leap of faith that I could really do this. My money went faster than I had hoped but I really felt a calling that this was what I was meant to do.  Spiritually this has helped me grow and I get to express a part of my culture to others.

Being a full time artist is not easy work by any means, but in a way this pushes me to work harder.  Money is still inconsistent but I have my work in a few gift shops, including the Hibulb museum here at Tulalip, Highway 2 Collectibles and Imports in Sultan, and Moonfrye Metaphysical in California. I still am a vendor at pow wows and bazaars, I started a web page on Shopify and on Photoshelter, and I do special requests for friends when I have the chance.  I also offer items for sale on Facebook , on my personal page and on my Art Z Aspects page.  I have some designs on display on an online gallery, Touch Talent, which has a large following worldwide. My Orca design was featured as the Editors Pick in January.  Right now I am really working on becoming established as an artist. Once established, I would like to work towards owning a gallery.

 

Photo/Jennifer Tracy

Photo/Jennifer Tracy

 

How do you come up with a profitable pricing structure for your art?

For pricing on my prints I got help from an art consultant I had met. She gave me some real good advice about pricing, some info on local events, and wholesale pricing for businesses.

On my canvases, I had to figure in total cost to me and time spent. Then researched other Native artists and their pricing, originals versus series, different syles, ect. I decided I would keep my work on the low side of pricing because I would rather get more of my work out to people as opposed to waiting for a sale once in awhile.

For online sales the hard part is figuring out the cost of shipping.

 

What’s the coolest art tip you’ve received?

A few years ago at a gallery event I met this artist from China; his work was great. Before I left I got to talk with him and showed him some of my work. He told me if I wanted to be a professional artist, do it. Draw or paint something everyday. It does not matter what you draw or how much, just do some art everyday. If you only draw once in awhile you have to retrain yourself to do what you already knew in the first place.

 

tacy_cup_cutout

 

 

Tracy’s artwork can also be found in prints and housewares, like coffee mugs. View Tracy’s art at the following websites:

Facebook: Follow Art Z Aspects at www.facebook.com/ArtZAspects and keep updated on new designs and upcoming events.

Photoshelter: http://artzaspectsjentracy.photoshelter.com

Shopify: art-z-aspects.myshopify.com

 

Tomorrow’s Salmon

By: Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

 

Effects of climate change and the ongoing loss of salmon habitat came home to roost at this year’s tribal and state salmon fishing season setting process. The result was some of the most restrictive salmon fisheries ever seen in some areas.

A record low snowpack, low stream flows and increasing water temperatures, combined with the results of ongoing habitat loss and declining marine survival, forced the co-managers to sharply cut harvest this year to protect both hatchery and naturally spawning chinook stocks.

The co-managers set seasons based on the need to conserve the weakest salmon stocks. The goal is to protect the weakest stocks while also providing limited harvest on healthy stocks which are mostly hatchery fish.
Last year’s salmon runs throughout Puget Sound returned far below expectations. Those fish that returned faced low stream flows that led to water temperatures soaring to 75 degrees or more in some places. Water temperatures 70 degrees or higher can be lethal to salmon. Last year many adult salmon – both hatchery and wild – died before they could spawn or reach a hatchery.

This year’s returns of hatchery and wild salmon are expected to be about 30 percent lower across the board than last year’s poor returns. Lake Washington chinook provide a good example of why this year’s fishing seasons needed to be more restrictive.

Hatchery and wild salmon returning to Lake Washington must pass through the most urbanized parts of western Washington where they are confronted by polluted stormwater runoff, barriers and low stream flows. When combined with the effects of elevated stream temperatures, the results can be deadly for salmon.

The Muckleshoot Tribe, which tracks salmon migration into the lake through the Ballard Locks, quickly realized the extent of last year’s low returns and took action to protect the remaining fish. The tribe sharply reduced or eliminated planned harvests, including culturally important ceremonial and subsistence fisheries. But by then most of the damage had already been done. Despite tribal sacrifices, Lake Washington wild chinook populations were further diminished and hatchery egg-take goals were unmet.

Given last year’s poor returns and the increased effects of climate change and habitat loss, the tribes were stunned when the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife – apparently at the prodding of sport fishermen – proposed even higher chinook sport harvest this year. Their proposal included a mid-Puget Sound fishery targeting chinook in an area where the weak Lake Washington run congregates. But the tribes rejected the proposed harvest increases and the fisheries were withdrawn, leading to howls of protest from some anglers.

The package of fisheries developed by the co-managers for 2015 reflects the reality of lower abundance and reduced fishing opportunity for everyone. Good salmon management requires us to balance the needs of the resource against the desire by some to catch more fish every year. That is why we must have strong leadership to make the tough decisions needed to protect the resource.

The treaty tribes believe that salmon must be managed in the best interest of those who will follow seven generations from now. We will not allow tomorrow’s salmon to be sacrificed for today’s harvest.

NOAA plan will speed up review of hatcheries

By Kimberly Cauvel, Skagit Valley Herald

 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has withdrawn its draft environmental impact statement on Puget Sound salmon and steelhead hatcheries.

The draft was in preparation of a full review of all 133 hatchery genetic management plans into one EIS.

Reviews will now proceed on a smaller scale with individual or watershed-level plans, according to NOAA’s March 26 announcement.

NOAA West Coast Region fisheries manager Rob Jones said the withdrawal will allow the federal agency to move through the review process more quickly.

“We can move ahead right now with review and approvals as the plans come in the door,” he said. “What we’re going to do is take advantage of all the work that was done — to get to a draft EIS — and then we’re going to put that to use as we receive updated plans from the state and tribes.”

The review is needed to ensure compliance with the Endangered Species Act. Steelhead and chinook salmon are listed as threatened under the act, meaning they are at risk of becoming endangered.

The National Environmental Policy Act requires NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service to assess the impacts of the hatchery genetic management plans through an environmental review. Part of the review process is deciding whether an EIS is necessary.

“We think this is a better and faster way to comply with the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act,” Jones said. “We’re working on (updated plans) as they come in the door instead of waiting to do all 100 or so at the same time. That means decisions are going to start rolling out the door this spring.”

Three hatcheries operate in the Skagit River system — the Marblemount, Upper Skagit and Baker Lake. Six hatchery programs run out of those facilities contribute to chinook, coho, chum and sockeye runs.

Five of the six programs were submitted to NOAA for review a decade ago, but were held back while the federal agency waited to have all 133 plans in hand, Jones said. By the time NOAA was prepared to proceed, a lot had changed in the way hatcheries are managed.

The plans need to be updated to reflect the 2007 listing of Puget Sound steelhead under the ESA, new scientific information and the closure of some facilities.

State and tribal representatives say NOAA’s review is important to ensure hatcheries are not at risk of litigation, as in the case of last year’s lawsuit by the Wild Fish Conservancy, which resulted in a 12-year closure of the Skagit River’s winter steelhead program.

Area tribes support the federal agency’s decision to withdraw the draft study.

“NOAA fisheries determined, and tribes agree, that a watershed-specific approach would be a more effective approach to focus and assess the potential environmental effects of hatchery programs,” Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission spokeswoman Kari Neumeyer said in an email.

Swinomish Indian Tribal Community fisheries manager Lorraine Loomis, who is chair of the commission, agrees.

“Many of these hatchery programs are critically important to maintaining treaty-protected fishing rights,” Loomis said in a prepared statement. “We are quickly approaching a crisis in the Pacific Northwest as salmon runs and their habitat continue to decline. It is important that NOAA is provided the resources to complete its statutory responsibilities under the ESA (Endangered Species Act) as quickly as possible.”

Though NOAA had already started its review of the state’s hatcheries, Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, introduced in the state Legislature this year Joint Memorial Bill 8007, which calls on the federal government to review Puget Sound hatchery genetic management plans to avoid lawsuits.

Pearson also sees the withdrawal as a step in the right direction.

“NOAA knows that the joint memorial (Bill 8007) is coming, and this is helping put pressure on them to get our hatcheries certified. I’m very pleased to see some movement on this front and I hope all of our hatcheries can get certified soon,” he said in an email.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife and Puget Sound treaty tribes co-manage all but one of the region’s hatcheries. The only one not co-managed by the state and tribes is operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Hatcheries are a tool to help provide fish for harvest, but should be managed with consideration for threatened or endangered species, according to the fisheries service.

Warm Ocean Temperatures Could Mean Trouble For Marine Life

An emaciated sea lion pup in California's Channel Islands.NOAA Fisheries/Alaska Fisheries Science Center

An emaciated sea lion pup in California’s Channel Islands.
NOAA Fisheries/Alaska Fisheries Science Center

 

 

by Jes Burns OPB

It’s a double-whammy kind of year for the Pacific.

An unusually warm winter in Alaska failed to chill ocean waters. Then this winter’s El Nino is keeping tropical ocean temperatures high. Combine these and scientists are recording ocean temperatures up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average off the coasts of Oregon and Washington.

“This is a situation with how the climate is going, or the weather is going, that we just haven’t really seen before and don’t know where it’s headed,” says National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries biologist Chris Harvey.

Harvey is a lead scientist on the California Current Integrated Ecosystem Assessment, which was recently presented to Northwest fisheries managers.

This map shows sea surface temperatures off the West Coast. The darker the red, the farther the temperatures are above average.This map shows sea surface temperatures off the West Coast. The darker the red, the farther the temperatures are above average.

NOAA Fisheries

Pacific Ocean temperatures regularly swing along a temperature spectrum. In fact, scientists have identified multi-decade cycles of warmer and cooler water.

“But right now, in the last couple of decades, we feel like we’ve seen maybe a little bit less stability in those regimes,” Harvey says.

This year, the temperatures are particularly high. The effects already appear to be rippling up and down the food chain.

When the ocean is warmer, it is less nutrient rich.

The humble copepod is a good illustration of this phenomenon. Copepods are small, crab-like organisms that swim in the upper part of the water column. They’re basically fish food for young salmon, sardines and other species.

But NOAA scientists have described the difference between cold-water copepods and warm-water copepods as the difference between a bacon-double cheeseburger with all the fixin’s and a celery stick.

Cold-water copepods are fattier and more nutrient-rich, making them a higher-value food for fish.

 

This warm-water copepod collected off Oregon this winter. They provided provide less energy to salmon and other fish than cool-water species. This warm-water copepod collected off Oregon this winter. They provided provide less energy to salmon and other fish than cool-water species. NOAA Fisheries/Northwest Fisheries Science Center

 

“The copepods that we associate with warmer water, which is what we’re seeing develop off the West Coast right now, tend to have lower energy content,” Harvey says. “There’s going to be probably an abundance of copepods out there, just not the high-energy ones we associate with higher fish production.”

Scientists are already making connections between these lower-nutrient waters and seabird die-offs in the Northwest and the widespread starvation of California sea lion pups, as well.

The warm water isn’t all bad news for Northwest fisheries. Some  fish that like warm water, like albacore tuna, may be more abundant this year in waters off the Oregon and Washington coasts.

Harvey says the science suggests fisheries managers might want to take a more cautious approach when setting harvest rates in the coming years. But what these record-high temperatures say about the longer-term health of Northwest fisheries and other coastal wildlife is still unclear.

“For me the jury is out on this,” Harvey says. “We’re going to have to wait a couple years before we know if this was just a really, really bizarre bump in the road or if there’s more to it.”

Action Taken To Protect Fish At Bottom Of Ocean Food Chain

A new rule prohibits new fisheries on forage fish species including silversides, shown here.Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble/Flickr

A new rule prohibits new fisheries on forage fish species including silversides, shown here.
Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble/Flickr

 

by Cassandra Profita OPB

 

West Coast fishery managers adopted a new rule Tuesday that protects many species of forage fish at the bottom of the ocean food chain.

The rule prohibits commercial fishing of  herring, smelt, squid and other small fish that aren’t currently targeted by fishermen. It sets up new, more protective regulations for anyone who might want to start fishing for those species in the future.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council unanimously voted to adopt the rule at a meeting in Vancouver, Washington. The council sets ocean fishing seasons off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California.

The idea behind the new rule is to preserve so-called forage fish so they’re available for the bigger fish, birds and whales that prey on them. It’s part of a larger push by the council to examine the entire ocean ecosystem when setting fishing seasons.

Environmentalists who have been advocating for the rule for years celebrated the approval.

“If we’re going to have a healthy ocean ecosystem in the long term, we have to protect that forage base,” said Ben Enticknap of the environmental group Oceana. “These are the backbone of a healthy ocean ecosystem.”

Enticknap said many of the forage fish subject to the new rule are already being fished elsewhere in the world. Little fish at the bottom of the food chain are used to make fish meal for aquaculture, and they’re increasingly in demand as food for people as other fish populations decline.

Previous rules only required managers to be notified of a new fishery on non-managed forage fish species. Now, the council will require a more rigorous scientific review to prove that the new fishery won’t harm the ecosystem before it is allowed.

“Really, it’s being precautionary,” said Enticknap. “It’s getting out ahead of a crisis rather than waiting for a stock to collapse and then having to have serious consequences for fisheries after the fact.”

The rule has gained broad support — even from the fishing industry, according to Steve Marx of the Pew Charitable Trusts. Valuable commercial fish such as rockfish, salmon, halibut and tuna all prey on forage fish.

“The fishing industry support has been pretty strong because everybody understands how important these small forage fish are to the fish they like, that they make a living off of,” he said.

Rod Moore, executive director of the West Coast Seafood Processors Association, congratulated the council on moving forward with the rule.

“It’s rare to get this sort of consensus support from commercial, environmental and recreational sectors, and I think you have it on this one,” he said.

Before voting, council members discussed the best way to allow existing fisheries to catch some of the forage fish species incidentally – as they’re targeting other fish.

The council directed staff to continue developing the details of the rule so that it doesn’t constrain existing fisheries, but it does discourage fishing boats from targeting forage fish.

Councilors instructed staff to hold fishing boats accountable the forage fish they catch and consider discouraging development of at-sea processing of forage fish species into fish meal.

Cooperation Keys Salmon Management, Recovery

“Being Frank”

 

By Lorraine Loomis, Chair, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

As we begin our third decade of the annual state and tribal salmon co-managers’ salmon season setting process called North of Falcon, it’s a good time to look at how far we’ve come and talk about our hopes for the future.

There were some tough days in the decade following the 1974 ruling by Judge George Boldt in U.S. v Washington, which upheld tribal treaty-reserved fishing rights and established the tribes as co-managers of the salmon resource with the state of Washington.

At first the state refused to implement the ruling under the mistaken idea that the Boldt decision would be overturned on appeal. There was chaos on the water. It got so bad that Judge Boldt suspended the state’s authority to manage salmon for several months and turned the state’s management authority over to the federal government.

It took time, but gradually the state and tribes learned to trust one another and work together. We realized the value of working cooperatively together to manage the resource rather than spending our time and money on attorneys fighting each other in court.

Out of that need for trust and cooperation, the North of Falcon process was born. It is named after the cape on the Oregon Coast that marks the southern boundary of the management area for fisheries harvesting Washington salmon and it extends north to the Canadian border.

While North of Falcon negotiations begin in earnest this month, the state and tribal co-managers have been hard at work for weeks developing pre-season forecasts, conservation goals and estimates of impacts to specific salmon stock at various levels of fishing effort.

This year the process has a new participant in Jim Unsworth, who recently replaced Phil Anderson as director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. We look forward to working with him to develop management plans and fishing seasons that will address our salmon recovery goals while providing some fishing opportunity. We will also work with Mr. Unsworth to protect and restore salmon habitat and to properly manage our fish hatcheries that we need to support fishing opportunity.

We have a lot of work to do together in the years ahead to recover salmon and address the many conservation challenges we face. But we know that our communities – and our shared natural resources – are stronger when the co-managers work together.

After all, we have much in common. With the current condition of the degraded habitat in our rivers and marine waters, we all need hatcheries to provide salmon for harvest. We also need good habitat for our fish. Whether hatchery or wild, salmon need plenty of clean, cold water, access to and from the ocean, and good in-stream and nearshore marine habitat where they can feed, rest and grow.

It is the amount and quality of salmon habitat – more than any other factor – that determines the health of the salmon resource. We must carefully manage the habitat, the hatcheries and the fisheries if we are to return salmon to abundant and sustainable levels.  Successful salmon recovery depends on it.

Treaty tribes released 40 million salmon in 2014

The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe conducts its annual coho salmon spawning at the House of Salmon hatchery, November 2014.

The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe conducts its annual coho salmon spawning at the House of Salmon hatchery, November 2014.

 

by Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

 

Treaty Indian Tribes in western Washington released more than 40 million hatchery salmon in 2014 according to recently compiled statistics.

Of the 40 million salmon released, 13.7 million were chinook. Significant numbers of chum (16.9 million) and coho (8.6 million) were also released in addition to 658,00 steelhead and 456,000 sockeye. Some of the salmon released by the tribes were produced in cooperation with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state regional enhancement groups, or other sport or community groups.

Nearly all of the chinook and coho salmon produced at tribal hatcheries were “mass marked” by removal of the adipose fin — a fleshy extremity just behind the dorsal fin on the fish’s back. Clipping the fin makes for easy identification when the hatchery fish return as adults and are harvested. Many of the fish also received a tiny coded wire tag that identifies their hatchery of origin and is used to determine migration patterns, contribution rates to various fisheries and other information important to fisheries management.

You can view the data behind these salmon releases in the map below. By clicking on each circle, you can view more detailed release data: