Wild Hoh River Steelhead on the Menu


Active Member
EDIT (3-1-05): Here are pics of the lower Hoh river that I have been given permission to post by the original poster on another board. See the devastation first hand. In the first pic the fishermen are slapping their jetsleds with paddles to make noise to scare fish into their nets. Apparently they circled the area doing this trying to prevent fish from hiding and escaping.

Original message:
Hey guys.....I'm out in Maine, otherwise I would be all over this, but my brother said that Wild Hoh River Steelhead was on the menu last night at Cutters restaurant in Seattle....Anybody wanna protest or at least complain?


Good looking out Tom.

When I saw your post I called immediately. I talked to a manager and his defense was this: 1)It's approved by the FDA 2)It's a limited season with a limited catch and 3)It's enjoyed by many of our guests. I have to say that last one really got to me.

I think we ought to organize something bigger but we should at least start with phone calls. Even though the manager was defensive I heard it in his voice that he was not genuinely committed to the killing of wild steelhead. He seemed more to just doing his job. I think more calls will get to him.

Cutter's Bayhouse
(206) 448-4884


Active Member
A few of us in the WSC are looking into this. I believe this is a lot bigger than just Cutter's. Cutter's is owned by Restaurants Unlimited, a very large Seattle-based company that also owns Stanley & Seaforts in Tacoma, Palomino and Palisades in Seattle and a lot of other restaurants throughout the country. Now lets assume they have a very good fish-buyer who struck a good price for the Hoh River wild steelhead. I've got to believe the contract is for a goodly amount of fish that is also on the menu at their other high-end restaurants.

Stay tuned for a call to action for all those that want to put an end to the killing of wild steelhead!

Let's educate a few of their customers by causing a small, classy disturbance outside of their door and see how fast they take it off the menu.

Target the other sites and put pressure on them every year. No market, no dead wild fish.

I'm in!



Active Member
I already had my mom call them and say that she had a great dinner (not the steelhead) but that she would never be returning if she saw that they remained on the menu.

time to increase the heat guys...come on....only 4 responses.......you all should be angry. There wouldnt be a fishery if there wasnt a market!

Steve Buckner

Mother Nature's Son
It's an outrage and the most unfortunate thing is that most people don't give a shit. I was just talking to a friend of mine who said he had eaten steelhead on a menu at McCormick & Shmick's. I asked if it was listed as wild and he didn't remember but it wouldn't surprise me if many of the big restaurants around serve it. It would be great to bring the unwanted attention to all restuarants throughout the country that serve threatened fish on their menus, which from what I understand, is getting to be most fish.


Active Member
Maybe a "letter to the editor" in one of the local papers is in order. It could be signed by a ton of people too.
Hoh River steelhead is regularly available this time of year in regional restaurants and fish markets. They are carrying it at the organic food co-op I belong to on Capitol Hill. Their defense is that they support tribal sovereignty and economic initiative, yadda yadda, which goes to show that the issue is complicated by any number of factors. One thing to remember is when steelhead or any salmon is labled as wild, that usually just means that it isn't farmed. When I asked our fishmonger whether the steelhead was actually wild or hatchery, he didn't seem to know what the hell I was talking about.

The interesting thing is I never see Quinault or Quillayute steelhead anywhere. I'm not sure what's up with that. One of the challenges to meet here is that the tribes generally try to market steelhead as a responsibly, sustainably harvested product (taking a cue from the Copper River chinook and sockeye tribes), and places like my co-op are inclined to swallow that marketing without question. Now the thing is that Copper River salmon is harvested pretty responsibly, so the claim cannot be credibly dismissed out of hand. If the Hoh River steelhead on those plates is indeed irresponsibly harvested (I am inclined to believe it is; if it's wild, the Hoh suffers from chronic underescapement and if it's hatchery that has its own myriad problems), you'll need to make that case and have evidence beyond "harvesting and selling steelhead is bad."
Wild steelhead get no respect in our media. They all want to "save the salmon" and our politicians stand on that soap box when ever they can.

The selling of wild fish in the restaurants and places like the Pike Place Market would provide a great backdrop for a protest. I'm sure a lot of interested protesters could be rounded up from the fishing and related groups.

Wouldn't it be great if everytime the media and our politicians talked of saving the salmon they would add "and the wild steelhead".



Active Member
You are absolutely right Ray...but that is the point....while I would rather see stores sell wild alaskan fish from well managed runs than anything else, I don't mind if they sell hatchery fish from here, or healthy runs from here, but selling depressed runs of wild native fish, and selling farmed fish I cannot deal with.
I recently purchased some "wild dungeness crab". My butcher informed me that within the next year the FDA will force all meat to be labeled as wild or farmed, and also list the country of origin. He said nothing of wild or hatchery salmon. They may not have to make that distinction.

o mykiss

Active Member
A month or two ago there was an article in the S.F. Chronicle about how great Quintault steelhead roe was and which high falutin' restaurants in the Bay Area served it. It was full of all sorts of muddle-headed garbage about how responsible the Quinaults were, implying that runs were healthy, etc., etc. I wrote an e-mail to the editor telling them their reporter was woefully misinformed about a lot of things in the article, and surprisingly got a letter back from the reporter acknowledging some of my points but making no apologies for helping market the destruction of OP wild steelhead. She made all the same arguments that Ray is encountering at his co-op, about tribal sovereignty, what good stewards they are, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. Here is part of her response:

"Should steelhead be harvested at all? We all draw the sustainability line at different places. I tend to draw mine where sustainability includes the
livelihoods of fisherpeoples. The history of U.S. policy toward fish and
fisheries has been terrible, and steelhead trout may be as badly managed
as most others. However, here, I draw the line at and trust the
monitoring accomplished by the tribe itself. The Quinaults have been in
the business of sustaining themselves through fishing for generations.
They are both monitoring and hatching steelhead."

I especially loved that last sentence! This lady and the general population know nothing about the state of wild steelhead runs, and in particular they can't distinguish between a wild fish and a hatchery fish. They figure if you can buy something in a restaurant, at the Pike Place Market (where they're selling it right now) or at a grocery store, everything must be okey-dokey. Organizations that do understand what is going on with wild steelhead ought to do something like the "Dolphin Safe" campaign that the tuna industry was hit with. Maybe we could mimic the anti-fur campaign and go throw a bucket of fish blood on the fishmongers at Pike Place Market while a bunch of tourists stand around gawking. ;)
The bucket of blood would sure make good TV at dinner time.

I think the concept is great. Something to get the Wild Steelhead issue rolling off the lips the media and politicians. The "Dolfin Safe" example is a good one. We can all enjoy tuna but within limits. The biggest impact would be at the beloved Pike Place Market.

Ken :beer2:


Banned or Parked
"Dolphin Safe" is a bit of a scam unto itself. All that did was trade dolphin caught in nets for sharks and sea turtles caught on longline hooks.