Tribal netting

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by MasterAnglerTaylor, Jan 23, 2009.

  1. Ethan G.

    Ethan G. I do science.. on fish..

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    iagree We've got to get moving on this and put some pressure on our legislators. I think we need to get the collapse of our fisheries into the public eye more. If we could get coverage of it on TV and radio there'd be a lot more support for our fisheries. If we just keep talking to ourselves, we're preaching to the choir.

    It's amazing, to me, how many people aren't educated about the plight of our fisheries in this state. I'd bet that the majority of people in the western half of the state are even aware of the massive seasonal migrations of salmon and steelhead. It's also amazing that it's not a bigger public and political issue in this state. Hell, we live in a "blue state", you'd think we would be able to get some conservation legislation passed.
    -Ethan
     
  2. Noah Pefaur

    Noah Pefaur New Member

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    Its the dams....
     
  3. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

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    Let me type this slow so that it is clearly understood. Select Washington Indian tribes have fishing rights that are part of FEDERAL treaties between the U.S. government and individual tribes. The members of those tribes have RIGHTS to fish; if you are not a member of a treaty tribe, you do not. Those treaty rights were defined functionally by the Boldt decision (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boldt_Decision for a brief review) in 1974 to mean that the tribes can harvest half the available fish and shellfish. Washington state has NO ability to restrict fishing by the tribes (some similar decisions in Oregon); Washington state has gotten its *$&$(#^ handed to it in federal court multiple times since the Boldt decision. The federal courts have decreed that both WA DFW and the tribes are co-managers of these resources. Some amount of harvest horse-trading goes on between DFW and the tribes at the North of Falcon process (wdfw.wa.gov/fish/northfalcon/faq.htm), but I expect not much trust. The co-managers do have areas of conflict in the acceptable sustainable harvest on specific river systems and specific stocks; the tribes biologists and the states biologists disagree. If you think that the CCA has the ability to change a FEDERAL treaty, I have some bank stocks that I think you might be interested in.

    The tribes are a heterogeneous mix. Some work cooperatively with other tribes and the wider society, others have historical emnity against non-native society and even other tribes. Some tribes are well-managed, others are kleptocracies. The tribes hire their own biologists, manage their own hatcheries, and govern the activities (kind of....) of their members. However, there is often considerable overlap and conflict among tribes in their "usual and accustomed" fishing areas and each tribe acts independently according to its own perceived best interests.

    CCA or other pressure groups might be able to convince Wa State to outlaw the use of gillnets in state waters by non-treaty fishers; the last time that was tried by referendum in 1995, it went down to defeat (Initiative 640: 57.5% against, 42.5% for). Of course, on the Columbia River banning gill nets would mean convincing Oregon state to go along too. And any agreement by Washington and Oregon to limit gill netting would do NOTHING to stop the interception of mixed stocks by sport and commercial fishers in Alaska and B.C.; of course, we never see these fish that are taken off the top of the returns, do we.

    At one point, I had some hopes that the pressures of the Endangered Species Act could be a powerful hammer to modify the activities of tribal fishers. However, both the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Fish and Wildlife Service are in the same branch of government, the Department of the Interior, and the same lawyers work for both. You cannot use the same lawyers as plaintiff and defendant. If an outside group were to sue to enforce the Endangered Species Act, it is likely that a complete end to fishing on endangered stocks would be implemented against non-treaty commercial and sports fishers before the RIGHTS of the tribes were suspended. (And I'm not that sure that a treaty wouldn't trump a law. I'm not a lawyer, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn once).

    A possible lever to influence the activities of the tribes may be through the Federal appropriations process for other tribal activities. While some tribes are flush with casino funds, others are still dependent of federal funds for a variety of activities on their reservations. This means using carrots (dollars) rather than a stick (regulations). This will require trust, something in very short supply when discussing fishing allocations.

    Steve
     
  4. pollopato

    pollopato New Member

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    dams and clearcuts
     
  5. ak_powder_monkey

    ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

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    I don't care if they want to keep fish for subsistence, fine, they've been subsistence fishing for 10,000 years I'm not gonna stop them or tell them they shouldn't. I think though that its total bull that they can commercial fish for endangered species in river.
     
  6. gt

    gt Active Member

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    of course you are correct, cabezon, in refering to the legal history. however, this is NOT 1975. we are ALL in a new century with some pretty stinky issues to deal with regarding our fisheries. now if you go back far enough to the pt'n'pt treaties, they clearly state that the indians will fish in common with everyone resident of this state. that simple wording is a killer in court, but it probably needs to be approached once again.

    as far as the boldt decision, nothing really needs to be done to challenge the 50% take portion. all that needs to be done is to ENFORCE the ESA protection of listed fishes. that simply means, a zero tolerance for the killing of listed fishes. that in turn means everyone, and the sports are already, selective fishing. that in turn means NO NETS!

    i do believe there are several very simple straight forward legal arguements that no one seems to care about making, CCA included.

    as far as indians 'taking care of a resource for 9000 years', well that is probably a real stretch. when you consider the facts of isolated coast bound villages living and dieing on the numbers of fish they could kill, coupled with cycles of no shows for those fish, it was totally about extraction for survival. the numbers of indians involved vs the zillions of salmon around really had the equation in favor of the fish. so i don't see indians caring for a resource, there were simply to few of them to make a dent in the salmon populations.

    but here we are today, declining runs and a host of variables contritubuing. and i would agree that the non-indian popluation has had the greatest impact on run reductions, no question about that. but just what immediate steps can be taken? and my arguement is selective fishing by all concerned is a wonderful first step in recovery.
     
  7. Trent

    Trent Ugly member

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    This is a question of curiosity. If The state of Washington were to make commercial fishing illegal, hence ending the ability to catch fish and sell them in the state for profit, wouldn't that also effect the tribes? Their treaty only covers harvesting for themselves, if I am correct. It does not give them the right to sell the fish they catch. From my understanding (and I could be wrong), the tribes pretty much do most of their fishing for profit. They don't have the same customs that they did back in the day when they only netted enough fish to survive. It is when fish got commercialized is when the stocks started to deplete, if I understand it correctly.
     
  8. johnnyrockfish

    johnnyrockfish Member

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    Cabezon is right about using the carrot rather than the stick. If tribal guides made more money taking sports out fishing they'd start lobbying within their own tribe to have more fish for their customers. It all comes down to money and survival. Rules can only go so far. I'm booking a trip on the Quinault very soon.

    JR
     
  9. Buck

    Buck "Ride'n Dirty."

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    It's the nets man!
     
  10. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

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    No, I don't think that a state law would have much impact on the tribes' abilities to sell their catch. The tribes historically engaged in trade with other tribes; they just didn't seem to be effective enough to put a dent in the populations; of course, we have no data for fish populations at that time. You might find a lawyer that would make the argument that the state could ban the purchase of salmon caught in state waters, but I doubt it would fly. And the tribes, like good businesspeople, have avenues for selling their fish across the country and across the ocean.

    GT, the problem is that the sports ARE NOT selectively fishing. We kill wild kings in the salt, the Alaskans and BC fishers kill wild kings in the salt. These are mixed stocks; there is no reasonable way one can discriminate whether these fish are from healthy stocks or not until they are bonked. If I were a federal judge and this was my case, the Armageddon solution would be 1) close ALL salmon fishing in Washington and SE Alaska (even catch and release causes mortality), 2) force the state to pay whatever it took for WA DOT to rebuild EVERY culvert, bridge, and road that acts as barriers to fish passage in the watersheds of impacted stocks, 3) block further building permits in any part of the watershed, 4) stop all logging activities in the watershed, and 5) ban the release of any hatchery fish in these watersheds of any species. And, it is possible that a judge might do this before interfering with a treaty. Of course, if I made those extreme demands, one might expect someone would invoke the "God Committee" amendment in the ESA and overrule my decision. In other words, just let the stock go extinct (see the history of the snail darter and the Tellico dam). [In fact, there was an argument on another board to ignore the status of wild fish and just boost up the number of hatchery fish. The same arguments were made regarding Oregon coho; a conservative group was successful in arguing that hatchery coho = wild coho if the hatchery fish were derived from the same stocks. Who needs rivers under this nightmare?]

    No easy answers.
     
  11. Ethan G.

    Ethan G. I do science.. on fish..

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    I definitely agree with everything you said. It is a very complex situation concerning First Nation treaties, interstate commerce and fisheries, and international commerce and fisheries. Not to mention logging, urban sprawl, and new developments. The federal government, First Nation tribes, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska, as well as the Canadian government and BC will all have to work together for a solution. It's gonna take a hell of a lot of work to get anything done.

    Non-selective commercial harvest on all sides, Native, non-Native, Alaska, and BC, as well as poor hatchery and general poor fisheries management are the main reasons I see for the decline of this state's anadromous fisheries. A stop to gill-netting at any level would help. A stop to nets spanning 2/3 of a river's width would be ideal. As SpeySpaz mentioned earlier, we are one of the last states that still allows commercial gill-netting. There's a reason for that...:beathead:
    -Ethan
     
  12. Mike Etgen

    Mike Etgen Not Quite A Luddite, But Can See One From Here

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    I was being ironic. Thanks for making my point.

    Good conversation here. Some even managed to get past the blame game and talk about real solutions.

    Ethan...please tell me - what IS the reason?
     
  13. Ethan G.

    Ethan G. I do science.. on fish..

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    It's a non-selective harvest practice, they are environmentally destructive (see Ghost Nets), and they generally lead to the decline of fisheries. I was making the point that Washington is behind the times, almost every other state has banned them, but we are lagging.
    -Ethan
     
  14. Mike Etgen

    Mike Etgen Not Quite A Luddite, But Can See One From Here

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    Okay...got ya. I see your point. Thanks.
     
  15. gt

    gt Active Member

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    there are a number of factors throwing up road blocks in this discussion. the first of these is the fact that washington state and the federal government was unwilling to take on the indian lobby. this was demonstrated when the makah were fined a total of $20 ea for the illegal killing of a whale. the actual question that needed a legal hearing was whether or not federal regulations trump past treaties. that question remains.

    seems as though both CA and OR, this past year, were successful in closing down all harvest, including ALL commercial fishing, indian, non-indian. don't for a second think this can't be accomplished, it was demonstrated last year. what is lacking is balls on the part of our elected officials to take on some enormously powerful lobbies. these include the commercial fishing groups who have for more than a century defined the essence of seattle, the indians who still claim that they have not been paid in full for whatever, and the associated businesses who profit from the sales of all things related to supporting both of these groups.

    big time, hard choices for elected officials. and that is why i still believe that unless legal action is taken, nothing is going to change.