Wild Steelhead in the Pike Pl Fish Market?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by MarkM, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. I saw wild steelhead for sale today at the Pike Place Market in Seattle (the "Public Market"). Not the fish market where they throw the fish in the corner but, if you're facing the ocean, further down to the right by the veggies.

    I asked the guy selling them where they're from and at first he said they're from the Quinalt and Hoh rivers. Then when I asked if they're from the Quinalt Reservation he said yeah that's where he got them - from the tribe.

    I won't go into how pissed I was at seeing this. But I had a few questions about the regs. Is it correct that it's illegal to sell wild steelhead that you've caught in WA? I'm assuming the Quinalt tribe is exempt from this via their rights to the reservation and/or the Bolt decision?

    If the sale of these fish is legal then is there any move to try and outlaw this? Maybe I've missed something but it seems that Steelhead are pretty much an endangered species in WA and harvesting wild fish for commercial sale is not helpful.


  2. If they belong to the indians, they can do with them what ever they please. If it was a white man selling them then he is in the wrong selling them.

  3. Best way to stop it. Educate the public. Every once in a while you will see it on the Eastside when the Tribe exercise their Tribal rights. Use the capitalistic system to our advantage. If no one buys them, there is not an economic reason to harvest them. Just my thoughts.

    Tight Lines,

  4. Wild Steelhead Coalition has a heads-up on this issue. I'm sure that something will be done to rectify it in short order.
    Les Johnson
  5. The selling of wild steelhead by the tribes has been going on for decades. It surprises me every Feb or March when someone comments on it but other than boycotting the purchase there is not much that can be done as they are doing nothing illegal. If you don't like it, don't support it and get others to do the same.
  6. Mark,

    Treaty Indian tribes are exempt from WA state laws that prohibit the commercial sale of steelhead. Somehow that includes the non-treaty fish dealers, processors, and retail vendors as well.

    Public education is about the only alternative.

  7. I'm curious, why aren't other endangered or threatened species available for purchase through the same channels?
    For example, why can't we buy eagle feathers that were taken by treaty tribe members?

    How about bear gall bladders, paws, etc?

    Perhaps I'm mistaken but, fish seem to be the exception to the rule here. :confused:

  8. Jon,

    Fish are an exception. Probably because the way the rules are written, incidental take of ESA listed fish is permissible within certain limits. Steelhead and salmon taken within those limits are allowed to be sold, but only salmon for non-treaty.

    Tribes cannot take eagle feathers, but they are allowed to get them from the US Fish and Wildlife Service that inventories and stores dead birds that are turned in. I'm not sure about bear parts.

  9. I'm guessing it's urban legend that treaty tribal members are allowed to "harvest" eagle feathers?

    I'm questioning the philosophy behind the exception for fish. If we (non tribals) can't buy eagle feathers or bear gall bladders from vendors at the market why are fish an exception?

    Can tribal members sell deer, elk, moose, or other game meat, off reservation, to non tribals?

    Not trying to start an argument here, just trying to get the facts.

  10. Can tribal members sell deer, elk, moose, or other game meat, off reservation, to non tribals?

    as one example, at the bottom of discovery bay is a vendor selling smoked elk and jerky to anyone who wants to purchase.
  11. Based on MarkM's description, I assume he's talking about City Fish, not Pike Place Fish, so make sure you're complaining to the right people.

    Also, they sell Swordfish and Patagonian toothfish (aka Chilean Sea Bass), both of which are threatened by overfishing, so you might as well bring that up at the same time.
  12. Folks,

    A few years after Bolt decided in US v. WA that the fishing treaty tribes had a right to harvest up to 50% of the harvestable surplus of salmon and steelhead the state of WA tried to enforce its ban on the sale of gamefish with the tribes. The Hoh tribe took the state to federal court to stop the state from doing this because it in effect prevented the tribes for execising their treaty fishing rights, and the other fishing treaty tribes joined in the action.

    The result of this lawsuit, which went to the US Supreme Court) was that the federal courts ruled the treaty fishing tribes cannot be prevented from selling salmon and steelhead they legally caught to whomever they choose to sell them too. Hence, it is perfectly legal for any fishing treaty tribe or fishermen member of a fishing treaty tribe to sell steelhead to any person or business they or he so choses. And the state is barred from taking any steps to prevent the treaty fishing tribes from doing so.

    Therefore, as has been mentioned, the only thing we can do is boycott the markets that are selling the steelhead. Do keep in mind though, that tribes also sell steelhead to fish brokers and markets out of WA state, which means that if a boycott of a Seattle fish seller is effective and it quits selling steelhead, the tribes will simply sell those fish to someone in another state.
  13. OK, My bad.

    I think you can indicate your feelings about selling wild/endangered steelhead, and chilean sea bass, and swordfish professionally without being accusatory or threatening, and I encourage you to do so. We will likely get a better response from an educational tact than from an inflammatory one. I recognize that it is their right to sell those species, but it is our right to express our opinion as well. Most of you know by now that I am not bashful about sharing my opinion, or my feelings on the topic.

    I encourage you to speak out about things that matter to you.

    Thanks for the reply, alpine.
  14. FT, your points are valid. The indians have a captive market within the casino network as well, so this is likely another exercise in futility...but it lets me sleep a little better at night knowing I did something, however little and however futile. No matter what the supreme court said, I think it is wrong to kill wild steelhead, just because you can, and I will share my opinion with anyone who will listen.

    That's me you see out at the end of the jetty pissing into the hurricane.
  15. Thanks all - especially FT, this has been quite an education. Interesting that it's already hit the federal courts and been decided. Between this issue and reading about the Duwamish river's PCB's yesterday and reading about the recent collapse of the salmon population in northern CA - and then getting into steelhead fishing this winter and beginning to understand how rare these fish are becoming, it just seems that there is no hope for andromodous fish in the lower 48. They're all going to go away and we're going to watch it happen.
  16. I've posted on this numerous times and have seen this for over 30 years. The Hoh is usually the main river sold from. Coach
    There are times when every fish monger in the Pike Place Market is loaded up with wild Hoh steelhead stacked like cordwood. The fish monger in the University District on the side street by the bank right off the ave is another wild fish seller. The fish monger right up on Pike towards Madison at the natural grocery is a wild fish only seller and only sells wild fish from "non depressed" stocks. They have been Hoh river carriers. In fact the head of the fish department used to hold keggar barbecues with wild fish as the main course in Fremont. Usually it was "Keta" salmon (chum) but I only hit those up a couple of times. The main guy John I think (years ago) seemed like save the steelhead advocate, but if a run was declared healthy, he'd hit it up. We all know that healthy and depressed is a fine line. I can go on and on, but you get the picture. Most of it comes from the OP, or that is how it is advertised.
  17. Mark,

    Sadly, I think that you are right. However, if we have to go down, let's go down swinging. Keep up the good fight. We have a lot to learn from guys like Les Johnson who are great mentors for all of us on preserving this precious resource.
  18. The tribes can legally sell steelhead. What we need is for retail fish mongers to stop buying steelhead from the tribes. If the tribal netters don't have a market, they may slowly -- and regarding the tribes I mean sloooowwly -- start thinking in terms of steelhead as a valuable renewable resource that will attract deep pockets people from around the country rather than a commodity item. As long as the Forks locals, including the natives, consider steelhead a market item that can help them make the next month's payment on their pickup or double-wide, we'll continue to see steelhead on the fish mongers' ice at Pike Place Market, Safeway and where ever.
    I don't know if anyone on the OP will ever have enough vision to see the big picture regarding what their wild steelhead ( and salmon and cutthroat) runs can do for their long term economy.
    Les Johnson
  19. You dont really want to buy eagle feathers, gall bladders and fish from them. Go to the casinos, smokeshops, and firecracker stands to show support.

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