Took my son to the Locks yesterday to hopefully see some fish in the ladder. While there was a lot of fish jumping in the locks, what appeared to be native fishermen have put a net across the entire area west of the locks. We watched as the fishermen in a boat pulled up dozens of fish from the net and left the net in place. Needless to say there were no fish in the ladder or to be seen in the viewing windows. While I appreciate the importance of native fishing rights it did seem a little excessive and come one, does it have to go across the entire area so no fish has a chance to get through for the hundreds of people who come to see the fish at ladder. I don’t ever recall seeing this type of fishing at the Locks before, is it new?
Fishing Nets Keeping Fish from Salmon Ladder(17 posts)
I noticed the same thing. I went on the 11th, no net, lots of fish. I went on the 18th, the net was in place and there were ZERO fish in the ladder. I too am all for native fishing rights, but there should be some balance.
I've seen this for several years now. I was wondering myself about any bycatch (sea-lions?)
Actually, last week I saw a guy fishing with a pole, first on the steps at adjacent Commodore Park, then later he was actually fishing right in the fish ladder. Now that it's getting dark earlier, there weren't any people around.
He caught one and it looked like he might eat it so I didn't say anything. He didn't look at all like a Native American I might add.
Yikes! Jumping to conclusions is exactly how rumors start and spread. There was something in the news a while back about the ladders being blocked while work of some sort was being done. I don't remember the details but I do know that "native fishing rights" were not part of the equation. Too bad they didn't have an explanation posted!
There was work on the locks last month for salmon but not the ladder as far as I know.
30 sec on the google turned up this:
"Collecting biological samples from adult sockeye: In 2009 a comprehensive biological sampling program will continue gathering critical information for the management of Lake Washington sockeye salmon, including changes in populations, survival rates, genetic identification, changes in size, etc.
The goal is to collect approximately 40 adult sockeye each week as they move from seawater into the Lake Washington Basin. Biologists from the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe will lead the sampling effort, with the collaboration of WDFW staff who will assist in the collection and processing of samples from the adult sockeye. Seattle Public Utilities provides funding for processing and analysis of these biological samples."
Here's the website: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/sockeye/counts.htm
If you walk around the locks and read the little info boards they have up, one explains that the Native Americans (I'm not sure what tribe(s)) have fishing rights to this area. I don't really remember what else it said, maybe next time your down there take a look and see if it gives any more info.
Here's what the sign says near the fish ladder entrance:
At times you may observe members of local Indian tribes fishing in the vicinity of the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. These fishers are members of the Muckleshoot or Suquamish Tribes. Fishing at traditional locations like those in the vicinity of the locks is a right these tribes reserved by treaty with the United States.
The mid-1850's, Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens negotiated a number of treaties with the Indians of Washington Territory. In the Stevens Treaties the signatory tribes agreed to relinquish the title to most of their land, reserving small reservation homelands, as well as the right to continue to fish at usual and accustomed places, and to hunt and gather on open and unclaimed land. The Suquamish Tribe is a party to the Treaty of Point Elliott signed near the vicinity of what is now Mukilteo. The Muckleshoot Tribe is a party to both the Treaty of Point Elliott and the Treaty of Medicine Creek.
Commercial fishing began to displace Indians from their traditional fishing places in the late 1800's. Legal challenges followed. The U.S. Supreme Court was called upon six times between 1906 and the 1970's to interpret fishing rights. In the late 1970's the Supreme Court definitively clarified and affirmed the fishing rights of those tribes party to the Stevens Treaties.
Today, the Treaty Tribes and the state of Washington, through its Department of Fish and Wildlife, jointly manage the salmon resources that pass through the locks. Beginning in June each year, tribal and state agency staff use this facility to count adult salmon as they pass through the locks and fish ladder. These counts are used to determine the number of fish returning to spawn and whether any fish are available for harvest.
FWIW...I have heard that recently the fishing rights methodology was changed to allow the tribes 24-hour periods to do their fishing. Basically - one group from the tribe gets 24 hours and then another group from the same tribe gets the next 24 hours etc.
About a week ago I was down at the locks and I believe it was the Suquamish tribe on the salt water side of the locks completing a 24 hour stint. They said they pulled about 140 salmon, mainly silvers (cohos)and a humpy (pinks) or two during the 24 hour period.
Ernie, the sampling program you refer to is completely different from the netting west of the dam/locks. The sampling program is carried out by workers taking fish directly from the upstream end of the fish ladder -- if you see a small boat tied up there with 2-4 workers in it doing stuff above roughly the eastmost viewing window, that's them. They're usually quite approachable and happy to describe their work.
Thanks for the info mondoman, I read further after I posted and learned that the sampling is done during June-July.
We also would get very upset with the fishing nets across from the old azteca restaurant. They would be stretch across the water way from both sides of the canal with just an opening down the middle for boats to go in and out. This was when all the hooplar was going on about how small the returning fish counts were. Always thought that the fish didn't have a chance to get up river by having to go through this gaunlet of nets to even get to the fish ladder.
Last night my girlfriend and I went to the Ballard Locks. It has been and always will be one of my favorite places in the world. We saw many salmon on the lake side of the large and small locks. My girlfriend, whose father is a commercial fisherman, seemed to so excited to see the fish jump and talked to them like they were pets. She seemed so proud of where they had been and that they were now on their journey up-stream to spawn, starting the cycle of life again. You see, she crewed on her dad's boat and has an overwhelming respect (like her dad does) for these salmon. Her and her dad's concern has always to keep the salmon and other fish sustained even if a season meant zero catch limits for a particular season.
But then we went to the fish-ladder and expected to see many fish coming through the ladder. We saw only one in 5 minutes of viewing. Huh?? We then noticed that there were (tribal) fishing nets strewn from shore to the closest point near the actual opening to the locks. (later on, she counted 20 nets in all that went from blocking all but the locks themselves directly in front of the fish-ladders to the area to the north side of Anthony's).
So my question is this, why are the tribes able to block the salmon run at such a critical upstream point while the salmon are trying to move upstream to spawn? What gives THEM the right besides some ill-thought-out treaty written when times were so clearly different?
I for one am appalled at the blatant disregard of the native tribes for these fisheries. Just because they CAN doesn't mean they SHOULD pillage the salmon runs. And what about the reality that tribal fisherman often cut the roe out to sell to the highest bidder while leaving the REST of the salmon to rot and decay? What kind of "civil" civilization treats its resources in this way? Sure, there are abuses by all civilizations in all of this world's history, but this is now the 21st century. No one should have carte blanche to abuse our resources. No one.
Later on that evening, we saw sea lions having a feast on net-captured fish in 20 nets right outside the locks. Everyone seemed to be thrilled at seeing the sea-life and were quite entertained as if watching a sea-world performance while they ate and drank. But we lost our appetite and had knots in our stomachs knowing the real truth unfolding in front of our enlightened eyes.
In the grand tradition of blogs, I am posting in absolute ignorance.
In many places, the fishing seasons are opened after a certain number of fish have moved up the ladder into the river system. Fish and Wildlife will decide that they want to have a minimum of X number of fish go up the river to spawn. Once X+1 fish have gone up the river, the fishing season is opened based on whatever local rules they have. By the time the nets are in the water, enough fish have gone upstream to maintain the resource.
I don't know if this is how the tribal fisheries at the Locks are managed. However, I don't like the idea of leaving the fish in the nets for the sea lions to eat. Training them that there is a salmon buffet at the Locks will lead to major behavior problems later on. I don't begrudge the sea lions enough fish to be healthy, but they can get to the point of just eating the tasty bits and leaving the rest of the carcass, which isn't good for the overall system.
Anyone here purchase salmon from Safeway? You are the reason nets are stretched across this waterway. Both of the tribes sell directly to the above mentioned grocer. Contrary to popular opinion, WDFW ( or any form of WA government ) has no say, or control over when or how the tribes fish. They are a sovereign nation that can act and do as they please based on treaty rights. If you want the fishies back in your fishy window, stop buying the fish..... and tell 5 friends to do the same. If there were no commercial market, they would not be fishing.
I shop at Safeway and find their fish rather tasty!
If Safeway didn't buy them (which I have a little hard time believing) I'm sure someone else would. I don't think stopping to shop at a national chain is going to save fish coming through the locks.
Don't believe me huh? Google " Safeway salmon Muckelshoot " and let me know what you find.
If you enjoy Safeway salmon, have at it. If I told you the majority of their fish come from the Duwamish River ( Top 10 polluted waterways in the US ) would that change your mind? Probably not. Hopefully somebody reading this is enlightened, and will make informed choices about what they are setting on their dinner table.
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