Tribe Drift Netting Spawning Steelhead on the Hoh?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by JesseC, Apr 4, 2013.

  1. Derek Day Rockyday

    Posts: 566
    Olympia
    Ratings: +142 / 0
    Demand. That's the only thing that we could possibly impact. A narrowly focused, well planned awareness/social marketing (not to be confused with social media) campaign could be effective. If you could keep it out of restaurants and grocery stores, you might be able to dry up the market.

    BTW. The Seafood Watch list doesn't list steelhead as 'good to eat'. Farm raised rainbows are in the 'best choice' category. However, there could be some confusion because of the 'steelhead' 'market name'. It might be worth seeing if they would add a caveat to the listing indicating the possibility of confusion. Or, if MBA stopped acknowledging the 'steelhead' market name, that might work. However, it's not so much a conservation issue as it is a policy issue. There are harvestable numbers of steelhead in some PNW rivers. That's not to say they're being harvested at sustainable rates, or that it makes sense to gillnet and sell as table fare the region's premier sport firsh.

    Trying to restrict/regulate tribal harvest is next to impossible. The 'conservation exception' means that the state could regulate tribal fisheries,if, it were a conserservation necessity. However, it can be invoked only as a last resort. So, we would have to stop fishing first (even if we did, the tribes would have a strong argument that it is not, in fact a necessity).

    Also, the tribes think the way we treat our 'half' of the steelhead is equally deplorable. We catch and release nearly every fish in the system for our grip-n-grins. The tribe would far prefer that we just bonk our half of the harvestables and leave the rest of the fish unmolested. The other thing to consider is that even if there were no demand for wild steelhead there would still be tribe members who would go fishing. We, as steelhead fishermen, actually have a lot more in common with tribal fisherman than either party thinks (in particular I remember explaining to a table full of tribal hatchery managers that sportsfishermen are the only other people who give a shit about fish--a point they begrudgingly accepted). One day on the Skagit, I saw four boats trade drifts from dawn to dusk for a handfull of sockey (maybe 10). They lost money for the day. They did it because, just like us standing waist deep in a river to not catch fish, it's about the act of fishing, being on the river. It's a culture and a lifestyle as much as a way of making a living.
  2. sopflyfisher Active Member

    Posts: 494
    Where the fish are located
    Ratings: +258 / 0
    Personally i think the terms "keta" or "silver brite" sound way more delicious than steelhead.
  3. Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

    Posts: 1,721
    Bellingham Wa.
    Ratings: +277 / 1
    Thanks Derek, for the well reasoned post. Railing about tribal netting has been going on since before Bolt, and has done no good. I agree we should be vigilant in reporting abuse no matter the abusers race or fishing method ( how many locals bonk more than one fish?), but anger and accusations are useless. Drying up the market is a good idea, there also needs to be something else for these folks to do, not alot happening on the lower Hoh for work these days and I don't think a casino would fly out there.
  4. James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

    Posts: 2,777
    Tacoma
    Ratings: +85 / 0
    Problem is, the market is taking off. I talked to a Quin fisherman (who incidentally stopped netting on April 1 to get spawners through), and he said that there were getting $2.25 a pound. In contrast he said he was only getting ~ $1.00 for Coho. Tough to ask those guys to not net as *fishermen* when there's lots of money on the table. A back of the napkin calculation makes it less viable to guide for those fish than to net those fish.