OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) – The Suquamish Tribe and Washington State Liquor Cannabis Board have signed what they say is the nation’s first state-tribal marijuana compact.
Board officials said in a news release the 10-year agreement signed Monday will govern the production, processing and sale of pot on the Tribe’s land located in Kitsap County.
The state negotiated the agreement in lieu of Board licensure. Under the compact, a tribal tax equivalent to the state excise tax will be applied to sales to non-tribal customers on Suquamish tribal lands.
Board chair Jane Rushford says the agreement is a model for future compacts.
The compact will head next to Gov. Jay Inslee for approval. A bill passed by the 2015 Legislature allows the governor to enter into marijuana agreements with federally-recognized tribes in Washington state.
Work will begin this week on the final phase of a major eelgrass restoration project located just outside Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island.
The project is at the site of the former Milwaukee Dock, near Pritchard Park. The dock, removed in the early 1990s, historically served the Wyckoff creosote plant; the area is now a Superfund cleanup site.
The dock was constructed in a dense subtidal meadow of eelgrass, which was further impacted by navigation channels that left two large depressions too deep for eelgrass to grow and flourish.
Eelgrass is recognized as one of the most valuable ecosystem components in Puget Sound. This project will contribute to the Puget Sound Partnership’s goal of increasing the amount of eelgrass habitat by 20 percent over the current baseline by 2020.
“The importance of eelgrass meadows to salmon and other fish and invertebrates is well documented,” said Tom Ostrom, salmon recovery coordinator for the Suquamish Tribe. “The depth of these depressions is what has prevented eelgrass from growing. Because the surrounding eelgrass is so dense and so robust, it makes this site a prime candidate for restoration.”
The Elliott Bay Trustee Council, which includes the tribe, began restoring the smaller of the two depressions in 2012; work begins this week on the larger depression. The work is being coordinated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The work takes place in three stages: The existing eelgrass is temporarily transplanted from the edges of the depression to nearby areas. The depression then is filled with clean sediment. After the sediment settles, the eelgrass is re-planted in the filled depression and is expected to fill out the former bare area.
SCUBA divers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Sequim (PNNL) have transplanted eelgrass back into the smaller depression and begun removing eelgrass from the larger depression in preparation for filling.
PNNL scientists will monitor the restoration site annually for at least five years to document how well the transplanted eelgrass is growing and to assess the overall success of the project.
The first phase of the project, restoring the smaller depression, was funded by the Elliott Bay Trustee Council from funds set aside for restoration efforts under a legal settlement with Pacific Sound Resources. The settlement addressed natural resource damages resulting from the contamination at two Superfund sites in Puget Sound, including the Wyckoff facility in Eagle Harbor.
Most of the funding for restoration of the larger depression is from a $1.76M grant awarded to the Suquamish Tribe from the Puget Sound Partnership through the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund, a state
fund program that targets high priority restoration projects that benefit salmon recovery. The grant is administered by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will manage filling the larger depression.
More information about the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration program
The Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration (PSAR) program was created in 2007 to help implement the most important habitat protection and restoration priorities. Funding is appropriated by the Legislature through the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, based on a request from the Puget Sound Partnership (PSP). PSP works with local entities to identify and prioritize the highest impact, locally-vetted, and scientifically-rigorous projects across Puget Sound. This funding is critical to advancing the most effective projects throughout our region.
Scientific name: Zostera marina
True flowering plant
Eelgrass meadows have very high primary production rates and are the base of numerous food webs
Roots and rhizomes stabilize the seabed
Meadows contribute to local oxygen budget, both above and below the seabed
Utilized for foraging, spawning, rearing, and as migration corridors by many commercially important fish and invertebrate species, marine mammals, and birds
Sequesters carbon, thus ameliorating the effects of ocean acidification
Elliott Bay Trustee Council
The Elliott Bay Trustee Council consists of The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce; the U.S. Department of the Interior, represented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe; the Suquamish Tribe; and the Washington departments of Ecology and Fish and Wildlife.
SEATTLE (CN) – Native American tribes fighting over fishing rights in Washington asked the 9th Circuit to intervene in separate proceedings last week.
The cases stems from a 1974 injunction by U.S. District Judge George Hugo Bolt in U.S. v. Washington that affirmed certain tribal fishing rights the state had been denying.
Among numerous subproceedings, the Tulalip back in 2005 requested a permanent injunction to prevent the Suquamish from fishing in waters outside their usual and accustomed, or U & A, grounds, an area determined by the 9th Circuit in 1990. The Suquamish were accused in that case of fishing on the east side of Puget Sound, in violation of court order.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez last year clarified “the geographic scope” of the Suquamish fishing grounds in Bolt’s decision. He said Bolt “relied heavily” on the reports of anthropologist Dr. Barbara Lane, who testified about various tribes’ traditional fishing areas in the 1974 case.
Martinez said it was “nearly certain” Bolt intended to include Possession Sound and waters at the mouth of the Snohomish River in the Suquamish U & A.
“On the other hand, there is an absence of evidence in her [Lane’s] report regarding Suquamish fishing in the waters on the eastern side of Whidbey Island such as Skagit Bay, Saratoga Passage and its connecting bays Penn Cove and Holmes Harbor, and Port Susan,” the July 29, 2013, ruling says. “Therefore the court finds that Judge Boldt did not intend to include these areas in the Suquamish U&A.”
The Tulalip appealed the decision to the 9th Circuit. After a three-judge panel’s Aug. 8 hearing in the Tulalip dispute, it heard the appeal by the Quileute and Quinault tribes of a similar decision by favoring the Makah tribe.
The Makah filed their Bolt subproceeding in 2009 to determine the boundaries of U & A fishing areas for the Quileute and Quinault tribes. The Ho tribe opposed the Makah’s motion as an interested party. In the complaint, the Makah argued the tribes intend to harvest Pacific whiting outside their traditional fishing grounds, which would affect the Makah’s catch. Pacific whiting travel from south to north, so the Quileute and Quinault would harvest the fish before the Makah.
Martinez let the case to proceed to trial by granting the Makah partial summary judgment last year. The Quileute and Quinault objected, arguing they waived sovereign immunity in the 1974 case only for determining their fishing rights in Washington. They claimed the court did not have authority over waters outside the 3-mile limit from the shore.
Martinez found that “incorrect” on July 8, 2013, saying the court’s jurisdiction extends to all treaty-based fishing and not limited to Washington waters.
The Quinault and Quileute’s claims of sovereign immunity also failed.
“The tribes came to Court in 1970 asking the court to determine and enforce their treaty rights, and they subjected themselves to the court’s jurisdiction for all purposes relating to the exercise of their treaty rights,” he wrote. “The Quinault and Quileute objections to the Makah motion for partial summary judgment on jurisdiction are thus without merit.”
Ho intervened in the appeals by both tribes.
With the 9th Circuit hearing the Tulalip case first Wednesday, Mason Morisset, representing the Tulalip, said Judge Bolt never “called out the specific waters we’re dealing with here.”
The lower court erred in finding the Suquamish regularly fished the east side of Whidbey Island in the past, he added.
Although the Suquamish fishing grounds extended north to Canad’s Fraser River, the tribe “would have to go out of their way” to fish on eastern Whidbey Island, Morisset said.
“In this case, there’s no evidence that the Suquamish went out of their way,” he said.
Judge Consuelo Callahan asked Morisset about the findings by an anthropologist that the Suquamish “traveled widely in the Puget Sound area.”
Morisett said this was true of “all the tribes,” and “it’s not evidence to make a general statement.”
The Suquamish may have traveled to the eastern parts of Whidbey Island and done some fishing, “but that doesn’t rise to the level of a usual and accustomed fishing place,” the attorney added.
Though Morisset called it “very telling” that the Suquamish did not contest Judge Bolt’s definition of their territory for 30 years, Callahan said “that doesn’t negate that they may have a right to do it.”
Howard Arnett, representing the Suquamish, said the tribe regularly fished in East Puget Sound based on historical reports.
“The testimony is clear,” he said. “They went there often. They went there frequently and they fished along the way – enough to establish that the entire area is a U & A.”
The Quileute, Quinault and Ho tribes dispute the finding they waived sovereign immunity, their attorney, Lauren King, said. The tribes agreed to court determination of fishing rights only in Washington State waters, she added.
With Callahan asking why the court shouldn’t “rule here that if you’re in for a penny then you’re in for a pound,” King said it would contravene Supreme Court precedent. “The Supreme Court said if you’re in for a penny, you’re in for a penny,” King said.
Callahan countered that “every single one” of the fishing rights cases involved interpretation of the same treaty.
King did not get far with her explanation that the tribes waived sovereign immunity only for one part of the treaty involving Washington fishing rights.
“If it involved all things in the treaty, we’d be here talking about hunting, about making war on other tribes,” King said.
But Callahan said the tribes’ approach seems to be “we waive sovereign immunity piece by piece until we don’t like what a court does.”
The Makah, represented by Marc Slonim, repeated their position that sovereign immunity was not an issue.
“Sovereign immunity is not a defense as to how an issue will get decided,” Slonim said.
He argued that the determination of the Quileute and Quinault traditional fishing grounds is “no different” from all of the other tribal determinations under the original U.S. v Washington case.
Callahan asked if the subject matter of this case was “inextricably linked” with U.S. v Washington.
“Absolutely,” Slonim replied.
The heart of the original case was the determination of usual and accustomed fishing grounds, the attorney added.
“You have to know where usual and accustomed fishing grounds are to adjudicate the treaty rights,” Slonim said. “The United States has said explicitly that the place these issues should be resolved is in U.S. v. Washington.”
Washington Assistant Attorney General Joseph Panesko also weighed in on the tribes
claim of sovereign immunity, saying it was “patently false” to claim the state has no regulatory authority over the waters in dispute.
He called the tribes “disingenuous” for claiming they never waived immunity over the waters. He said if they succeed in arguing Judge Bolt’s decision doesn’t affect the ocean waters, the state wouldn’t be bound by an injunction in the case.
“The state would be cleared to start regulating all tribal harvests of crab and a few other resources that the state does manage beyond the three mile line,” Panesko said. “The state could require regulatory permits, impose excise taxes on fish that tribal members bring in from beyond that 3-mile line – ”
Laughter broke out in the courtroom as Callahan translated.
“You’re saying be careful what you ask for,” she said.
Judges Jay Bybee and Richard Paez joined on the panel.
The Kitsap Sun (subscription required) reported on the removal of a partial fish-blocking culvert on Chico Creek, under Kittyhawk Drive. Under the direction of the Suquamish Tribe, the 50-year old culvert is being removed, fully allowing the mouth of the estuary to return to a more natural state.
Removing the Kittyhawk culvert is an important step in restoring the estuary, according to Small and Tom Ostrom, of the Suquamish Tribe, who helped pull together more than $2 million for the project. Replacing the freeway bridge, they said, will lead to an even greater improvement in salmon habitat, supporting increased populations of chum, coho and steelhead.
Work on the Kittyhawk project began earlier this summer with construction of a new driveway punched in from Chico Way. The driveway has a gravel surface, but it will be paved later this year. The driveway provides a new access for residents who previously crossed Chico Creek to get home.
Along with the culvert removal, the project will remove 400 feet of Kittyhawk Drive, built on a raised roadbed. An estimated 10,000 cubic yards of soil will be pulled out of the estuary where it was placed to build the road. That’s more than 1,000 average dump truck loads.
Before the end of September, Chico Creek should be able to flow smoothly out of the freeway culvert and down a gradual slope into Chico Bay, according to John Gaffney, water resources engineer for Anchor QEA. Log structures will be buried downstream of the remaining culvert to ensure that the stream does erode vertically, but Gaffney does not expect that to happen.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will be in Washington State on April 24, to provide keynote remarks at a tribal summit organized by U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-6) and hosted by the Suquamish Tribe.
The summit will be held at the Port Madison Indian Reservation on Bainbridge Island. Jewell will meet tribal leaders and tour the Suquamish hatchery and seafood plant with Leonard Forsman, tribal chairman.
Accompanying Jewell on the visit will be Larry Roberts, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs, and Stanley Speaks, Northwest Regional Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Jewell is chair of the White House Council on Native American Affairs a role that has her overseeing a comprehensive effort to enable Federal agencies to work more collaboratively and effectively with tribes to advance their economic and social priorities and improve conditions for American Indians and Alaska Natives according to an Interior press release.
The summit on Thursday will include discussions on economic development, tribal sovereignty and the impact of climate change on American Indian communities to be held in the Suquamish Community House (House of Awakened Culture). Representatives from the nine tribes within the 6t Congressional District – the Hoh, Lower Elwha, Makah, Quinault, Quileute, Jamestown S’Klallam, Port Gamble S’Klallam, and Skokomish – have been invited.
OLYMPIA — How much risk of cancer from eating fish is too much? Gov. Jay Inslee has privately advanced a proposal that would likely pass legal muster but which worries Indian tribes and environmentalists. It would allow a tenfold increase in allowable cancer risk under the law.
It’s either that, the governor has told a panel of his advisers, or the state will have to consider regulatory breaks for polluters that the state has not traditionally granted in the past.
For example: giving factories, municipal sewage treatment plants and others who dump pollution into waterways 20 years or perhaps even more to come into compliance with new toxic-waste limits.
Caught in crossfire between Indian tribes and business interests, Inslee stepped into the controversy last spring after his predecessor, Chris Gregoire, short-circuited plans by the state Ecology Department to make water pollution rules more protective of people who eat a lot of fish. Gregoire’s move came a day after the former governor met with a senior Boeing Co. executive who strongly objected to tighter restrictions on toxic pollution, as InvestigateWest was the first to report.
Inslee’s first step was to organize a panel of advisers, including business and tribal officials. It was in front of that group in February that the governor laid out the choices as he saw them, according to several people who attended the meeting.
Now Inslee is on the verge of handing down orders to the state Ecology Department on how to proceed. It’s a decision fraught with political tension because Inslee has allies in the tribes and in business.
“The governor came into this issue, inherited it, hearing both that this is going to kill business and hearing this is necessary to protect Washington citizens who are heavy fish consumers,” said Ted Sturdevant, who first pushed the tighter limits as director of Ecology and is now Inslee’s chief adviser on the issue. “He’s been looking for a path that does both — that protects people who eat a lot of fish and that doesn’t kill the economy.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has repeatedly told Washington that the state must fix its system for regulating water pollution under the federal Clean Water Act.
What needs fixing is the fish consumption rate: an official state estimate of how much fish people eat and a key part of Washington’s formula for deciding how much pollution is allowed. The more fish people consume, the more exposure they face to water-borne pollutants, and the less pollution can be discharged into waterways under the Clean Water Act.
The fish-consumption estimate Washington uses is based on a national study conducted in 1973 and 1974 in which people filled out three-day food diaries. According to that study, and in the current state calculations, Washingtonians eat less than half a pound of fish per month, about one serving. In reality, many eat more in a single meal. Starting in the 1990s, more-rigorous studies of Northwest Indian tribes found fish consumption rates of 30 pounds per month or more among the highest consumers in the Suquamish Tribe, for example, where even the average consumer eats 14 pounds a month. Other groups, such as sport fishers and immigrant communities, are also known to eat fish in excess of the state estimate.
Critics of Washington’s one-meal-per-month figure point to Oregon, which in 2011 adjusted its rate to 11 pounds per month, or roughly one fish meal per day, making it the strictest standard in the nation. That move was designed to protect 90 percent of people eating fish in the state to a one-in-1-million standard of increased lifetime risk of cancer.
Following Oregon’s lead, Sturdevant as director of Ecology in 2011 began a process to correct Washington’s fish-consumption estimate. Vigorous protests from business and influential members of the state Legislature failed to stop the rulemaking process by spring 2012. But when Boeing took its complaint all the way to the governor, Gregoire told Ecology to go back to the drawing board.
Tribes protested. After his election, Inslee personally stepped into the controversy, tapping a panel of prominent business, tribal and municipal officials to try to reach agreement on a path forward.
Businesses and local governments rightly point out that wastewater technology is not currently available to meet the strict water-quality standards that would result if Washington adopts a fish consumption rate as high as Oregon’s.
To environmentalists and Indian tribes, that’s not the point. They rightly point out that the Clean Water Act has often required industry and others under its regulation to set a standard to protect public health and rely on that standard to drive technological innovation. That way, at least eventually, even heavy fish consumers are protected, they argue.
At a meeting at the governor’s office in early February, according to several of those who attended, the governor laid out two options, both of which lessen the potential burden on polluters:
Boost the estimate of how much fish Washingtonians are eating, but alter another pivotal part of the formula used to set pollution limits: the additional cancer risk from eating fish that is considered acceptable. Traditionally, Ecology has set that at one additional cancer case for every 1 million people exposed to a given pollutant. That number could be set at one in 100,000 instead, Inslee suggested, and remain within legal bounds. EPA allows states to set the risk at either level, so long as even highly exposed groups such as Indian tribes face risks no greater than one additional cancer case from eating fish per 10,000 people.
Keep the traditional limit of one-in-1-million increased cancer risk, but take steps to help pollution dischargers. This could include giving them variances from the rules; allowing them years or even decades to reduce pollution; or other alternatives. Similar polluter-friendly steps were taken in Oregon but traditionally have not been used in Washington. This second option, Inslee adviser Sturdevant told InvestigateWest, would have to be paired with “creative solutions” that would further protect fish eaters, although such solutions have not yet been outlined.
The EPA’s Seattle-based Region 10 oversees the Ecology Department’s enforcement of the Clean Water Act. Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran refused to grant an interview to discuss EPA’s position or provide another spokesman for the agency.
But recently the agency repeated its position in a letter to the Washington Ecology Department, saying an “important part of a final rule is choosing a cancer risk level that provides risk protection for all Washington citizens, including those who eat higher amounts of fish.” If the state doesn’t come up with a rule by the end of the year, EPA plans to step in and do the job itself, the letter said. The suit the environmental groups filed in federal court seeks to force such action by EPA.
Meanwhile, a coalition of business interests, local governments and a labor organization endorsed increasing the allowable cancer risk. Expecting a one-in-1-million increased cancer risk is “unacceptable,” the group wrote in a letter to Inslee.
“We anticipate that this risk level, coupled with a high fish consumption rate, will result in largely unattainable ultra-low numeric criteria, unmeasureable incremental health benefits, and predictable economic turmoil,” the group said.
One signer was Maud Daudon, president and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, who served on Inslee’s panel of advisers and attended the meetings where the governor discussed the issue. She told InvestigateWest even the one-in-100,000 cancer rate would lead to significantly tightened water-pollution standards.
By adopting that goal, she said, “you can get industry to invest in ways that will move the needle for human health.”
Business and local governments argue, too, that they are unfairly targeted by the Clean Water Act. Pollution from factories and sewage plants has already been ratcheted down substantially since the landmark legislation was adopted in 1972. Nowadays, quite a bit of pollution flowing into Washington waterways comes not from a sewage plant or factory, but rather from the foul mix that flows off streets, parking lots and other hard surfaces during rainstorms, carrying the detritus of our modern world, including three pollutants that have proved particularly difficult to clean up: PCBs, arsenic and mercury.
Tribal interests, nevertheless, are growing impatient with the Ecology Department’s drawn-out process.
“It’s really concerning to me,” said Jim Peters of the Squaxin Island Tribe. “It seems like they have no problem having heavy fish consumers have a higher risk of getting cancer than other people.
“It’s just not something we can accept. Tribal members and my family do eat a lot of fish. It’s part of our lives and part of our culture and a staple of our diets. And we’d probably eat more fish if there were more around.”
Although Inslee has not yet said publicly how he will resolve the dispute, those involved in the discussions say it seems likely that he will find a way to allow polluters leeway on PCBs, mercury and arsenic. What form that might take remains unclear.
Kelly Susewind, a key adviser to Ecology Director Maia Bellon, argues that one case per 100,000 people “is very, very close to zero” cases, although he acknowledges that one in 1 million “is even closer” to zero.
He said the agency should be given credit for not simply focusing on protecting the average person.
“We’re saying let’s set a number that’s right for high consumers,” Susewind said.
One thing to consider is that the measure of increased cancer risk is based on 70 years of exposure to a given pollutant. Also keep in mind that Washington’s population is about 6.9 million people. So if the allowable cancer rate were to be set at one in 100,000 people instead of one in 1 million people, the difference would be roughly 62 extra cases of cancer over 70 years — if the assumptions are right. It could be more or it could be fewer.
One of Inslee’s advisers is Seattle attorney Rod Brown.
“What’s your social judgment about how much risk is acceptable for a carcinogen?” Brown asks. “It sounds like math, but it’s also a social judgment.”
InvestigateWest is a Seattle-based non-profit journalism organization focused on the environment, public health and government accountability in the Pacific Northwest.
EVERETT — The Snohomish County Public Utility District on Thursday received federal approval for plans to place two large turbines on the sea floor off Whidbey Island.
The pilot project has been in development for years, and if the PUD’s Board of Commissioners signs off on the project, it may be a few more years before the turbines are installed.
The project is a test to see if using tides to generate electricity is technically, commercially and environmentally viable, said Craig Caller, an assistant general manager for the PUD.
It would be the first time tidal power turbines in Puget Sound would be connected to the larger electricity grid.
So far, the PUD has raised about $13 million in federal Department of Energy grants, which is expected to cover about half the cost of the project. The rest would come from a mix of more grants and money from the utility’s Resource Reinvestment Reserve, Caller said.
The test area is 200 feet deep in Admiralty Inlet, less than half a mile off the west shore of Whidbey Island and not far from the Keystone ferry slip and Fort Casey State Park.
The utility is to operate the turbines for three to five years, during which time it will study the turbines’ actual performance versus the expected output, maintenance requirements, underwater noise and response of nearby fish and marine mammals.
Gathering that data will determine whether the utility proceeds with a commercial deployment. Right now there isn’t enough data to make even an educated guess as to tidal power’s viability.
“It’s in its infancy. It’s about where wind technology was decades ago,” said Dave Aldrich, president of the PUD’s Board of Commissioners.
In issuing the license, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ruled that the PUD has addressed concerns raised by Native American tribes and an undersea cable company.
The Tulalip Indian Tribes, the Suquamish Tribe and the Point No Point Treaty Council, representing the Port Gamble and Jamestown S’Klallam tribes, opposed the project, saying the turbines posed a risk to fish and fishing nets and would force the state to close the area to fishing.
A data communications company, Pacific Crossing of Danville, Calif., also protested the project. The company operates more than 13,000 miles of undersea fiber-optic cable that pass through Admiralty Inlet to Harbour Pointe from Asia and California. It is concerned cables would be damaged by the operation of the turbines.
Caller said that FERC in its ruling said the turbines posed no risk either to undersea cables or marine wildlife, nor would they impede the tribes’ fishing rights.
Officials from the Tulalip Tribes and Pacific Crossing could not be reached for comment.
In the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland, another pilot project using the same model of turbines found there was no danger to wildlife.
“What they found consistently over that time is that when the turbine is rotating, that fish and mammals simply avoid it,” Caller said.
The turbines are to be made by the Irish firm OpenHydro. They are approximately 20 feet in diameter, weigh 414 tons each and sit 65 feet high on a triangular platform 100 by 85 feet.
At peak generation, the turbines could produce 600 kilowatts of electricity. But because this is a pilot project, it is unlikely the turbines would ever generate that much electricity for the grid, Caller said,
If the PUD’s board votes to move forward with the project — Aldrich said it likely will — the utility will need to obtain permits from Island County, where the power would be brought to shore, order the turbines and hire contractors.
It’s brand new territory for the utility, and installation of the turbines is years away.
“We’re pioneers if we go through with this,” Aldrich said.
Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Western Washington tribes are quickly recovering from a sudden ban in December 2013 on selling geoduck to China.
The Asian country claimed it received a shipment of geoduck from Ketchikan, Alaska, that had high levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning, and a shipment from Poverty Bay in Puyallup, Wash., that had high levels of arsenic.
As a result, China announced it was banning all imports of bivalve shellfish from Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Northern California. This was just before the Chinese New Year, a lucrative time for harvesters and buyers, when geoducks are traditionally served.
“It was bad at the beginning because we didn’t know what was going on,” said Tony Forsman, general manager of the Suquamish Tribe’s Suquamish Seafoods, which regularly ships shellfish internationally. “China didn’t tell us for two weeks they were doing this.”
Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have been working with Chinese officials to determine how they came to their conclusions and have been in close communication with Washington Department of Health and western Washington tribal officials about the progress. Officials from NOAA are meeting in person with officials from China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine this month to further discuss the situation.
The shellfish in question from Poverty Bay passed all the rigorous tests needed to be exported to China, said David Fyfe, shellfish biologist for Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.
“We’re working with China to figure out why we suddenly don’t meet their standards,” he said.
In the meantime, harvesters and buyers are continuing to send their catches to other Asian countries, including Vietnam. U.S. officials are asking China to reduce the ban area from the West Coast to just the two original areas of concern.
Suquamish Seafoods had to layoff nine employees in December – including those who sort, pack and ship the shellfish – but everyone was re-hired by mid-February. Suquamish Tribe harvesters annually gather nearly 500,000 pounds of geoduck.
“There have been blips in the market, such as having to sell smaller geoduck, plus market pressure forced prices down,” Forsman said. “We’ve all just had to adjust – divers, market, buyers, us. Things are fine now but we had to adjust and adjust fast.”
Despite the “blip”, it did prove that the United States shellfish quality control system works, Fyfe said. Harvesters have to meet the National Shellfish Sanitation Program standards, which includes providing information about the harvester, day and tract from which shellfish was harvested.
The Port Madison Reservation, home to the Suquamish Tribe of Washington, has just grown in size.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs added about 283 acres to the reservation. The property includes the White Horse Golf Club, which the tribe purchased in 2010 for $4.65 million. “The land was proclaimed to be an addition to the Port Madison Reservation of the Suquamish Indian Tribe of Washington, for the exclusive use of Indians entitled by enrollment or tribal membership to reside at such reservation,” the BIA said in a notice that was published in today’s issue of the Federal Register.
Cultural Exchange between the Suquamish Tribe and El Nido, Palawan, Philippines focuses on cultural heritage, and sustainable fishing and archaeology
Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
Seattle – This week, seven representatives of the Suquamish Tribe are in the Philippines. Over the course of eight days, they will visit communities on Palawan Island and learn about the archaeological history of the island, as well as its modern day challenges to preserve natural resources in the face of tremendous growth in both tourism and development. The visit is part of “Ancient Shores, Changing Tides,” a project that is part of the Museums Connectsm program, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs that is administered by the American Alliance of Museums.
The Suquamish delegation’s trip to the Philippines follows on the heels of a visit seven heritage enthusiasts from the Philippines made to Seattle and Suquamish this past October. During their eight-day stay in Washington, the Filipino delegates learned about museum curation and collection practices through guided tours of several museums in the region: the Burke Museum, Wing Luke Museum, Suquamish Museum, and the Makah Museum and Cultural Resource Center.
In addition to comparing their community museums, the ways in which their heritage is preserved, and local efforts to attract tourism, the Filipino and Suquamish groups are also comparing their fisheries management practices. The Filipino delegates were able to go out with Suquamish Seafoods divers to see geoducks being harvested. When they visit El Nido, the Suquamish delegates will travel through a community-managed marine protected area to see how those practices are helping fish stocks to recover in an area threatened by dynamite fishing, overfishing, and climate change.
The sustainable fishing component has led to some rather delicious opportunities. At a traditional foods feast held at the House of Awakened Culture in Suquamish, more than 200 people gathered to enjoy a feast featuring locally-harvested geoducks, salmon and Manila clams. On Palawan, the delegates will be able to taste grouper, dolphinfish, anchovy, squid, crabs and more. There, locally harvested fish, seafoods, shellfish, and seaweeds will all be prepared according to traditional Cuyonon techniques.
The travelers representing Suquamish are tribal chair Leonard Forsman and his wife Jana Rice; tribal elder Jay Mills; Suquamish Museum director Janet Smoak; the Suquamish Tribe’s youth programs director Kate Ahvakana; the Tribe’s grants coordinator Angela Flemming; and Tribal member Kah-ty-ah Lawrence. Travelers representing the Burke Museum are project manager Lace Thornberg, associate director Peter Lape and community relations director Ellen Ferguson.
With this trip coming in the wake of super typhoon Haiyan, there is certain to be a lot of discussion between the groups about recovery efforts—and how to build communities that are more resilient to the effects of climate change.
When the Filipino delegates rode the Bainbridge Island ferry back to Seattle from Suquamish, they witnessed something few Seattleites have been lucky enough to see: orcas in south Puget Sound. These majestic animals had also accompanied the ferry that was carrying Suquamish artifacts from the Burke Museum to the new Suquamish Museum the day before. Perhaps the delegates from Suquamish will be lucky enough to see a manatee – known locally as a dugong – make a rare appearance while they travel El Nido’s waters.
“Ancient Shores, Changing Tides” is one of ten Museums Connectsm programs taking place throughout the country this year. The mission of the Museums Connect program is to strengthen connections and understanding between people in the United States and abroad through innovative, museum-based exchanges that address critical needs or timely issues in museums’ local communities and help museums better serve the public.