Tribes Allowed to Sell Sockeye Salmon Againby Jonathan Brinckman
The Oregonian, July 1, 2000
A strong Columbia River fish run prompts Oregon and Washington
to reopen the season after 12 years
Columbia River tribes will be allowed to sell sockeye salmon to the public starting today for the first time in 12 years.
Oregon and Washington opened the season because the Columbia River sockeye run is four times larger than expected.
"These Columbia River sockeye are excellent fish," said Steve Williams, deputy director of the Oregon Department of Fish and Game. "They make tremendous barbecued salmon."
Fish biologists said that 135,000 sockeye are projected to enter the Columbia River this year, far greater than the forecast of 31,000 fish. An average of 23,500 sockeye a year have entered the Columbia in the past five years.
The swift fish generally do not bite on lures and are difficult for sport anglers to catch. But though anglers can use only hook and line, tribal fishers can use dip nets, hoop nets and bag nets and should have more luck.
For sockeye, the tribes are prohibited from using gill nets, which trap and drown salmon in a large mesh. The tribes use gill nets in their larger commercial fall chinook fishery.
"It's nice to give our fishermen this opportunity," said Mike Matylewich, head of the fish management department of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.
The four tribes with treaty rights to Columbia salmon have been allotted a total sockeye catch of 6,500. Matylewich said he expects about 3,800 sockeye to be caught.
Sales to the public are allowed from 6 a.m. today to 6 p.m. July 10. Tribal members may sell sockeye and chinook jack salmon (chinook less than 24 inches long) to the public and to licensed wholesale fish dealers.
Oregon fish and game officials said people who want to buy sockeye should move quickly because the run is moving rapidly up the Columbia to spawning grounds.
In 1988, the last year the tribes had a commercial sockeye fishery, 99,600 fish entered the river. Of those, 31,000 were caught by tribal members and 17,500 by nontribal sport and commercial fishermen.
The catch limit is far smaller this year because Snake River sockeye were listed in 1991 as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. Because an estimated 168 Snake River sockeye are mixed in with the large run, the tribal harvest is limited to 5 percent of the total.
The nontribal sport and commercial sockeye season, which opened Wednesday, is limited to 1 percent of the total run.
Matylewich said tribal fishers will sell sockeye at boat ramps on both sides of the river above Bonneville Dam. Traditional sites include the Cascade Locks Marine Park and Fort Rains on the Washington side of the river, just east of Bonneville Dam.
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