Columbia River Indian-caught salmon season is here! Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs, and Yakama fishers are making their way to the Columbia River this morning for the opening of the first commercial season of 2018. They will harvest sockeye and summer chinook that will be available for purchase by the general public in time for barbeque season.
Fisheries managers estimate that nearly 100,000 sockeye and over 65,000 summer chinook will return to the Columbia River over the next few weeks. Using these pre-season forecasts as a guide, tribal fisheries managers determine the sustainable harvest size to ensure that plenty of fish continue upriver to spawn. Tribal fishers expect to catch approximately 20,000 summer chinook and nearly 7,000 sockeye, providing the public with fresh locally- and sustainably-caught salmon throughout the summer season. The peak harvest period will over the next two to three weeks.
“For thousands of years, tribal fishers have been catching Columbia River salmon for ceremonies, to feed their families, and for trading or bartering,” stated Jaime A. Pinkham, executive director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. “The Indian commercial harvest gives everyone the opportunity to share in this ancient Northwest tradition and enjoy delicious fresh salmon at the same time.”
All Columbia River fisheries, both treaty and non-treaty, are agreed to by the four Columbia River treaty fishing tribes and the states of Oregon and Washington as part of the U.S. v. Oregon Management Agreement. The catch limits are adjusted throughout the season as the run size is updated to ensure a sustainable harvest. The tribal fishery is protected under treaties the Yakama, Warm Springs, Umatilla, and Nez Perce tribes signed with the federal government in 1855. These treaties reserved their right to fish for ceremonial, subsistence, and commercial uses at all usual and accustomed fishing places in the Columbia Basin.
Direct-to-public sales locations can be found at:
- Marine Park in Cascade Locks
- Celilo Park
- North Bonneville (one mile east of Bonneville Dam on the Washington side)
- Hood River area
- Select farmers markets
- Columbia Point in the Tri-Cities area
When purchasing fish from the tribal fishery:
- Pack a cooler with ice to keep your purchase fresh.
- Sales generally run from 10 am to dusk.
- Price is set by individual fishers and is determined at the point of sale.
- Sales tend to be cash only.
- Request a receipt.
- Ask tribal fishers on topics such as freshness and preparation.
The public should call the salmon marketing program at (888) 289-1855 before traveling to the sales locations to find out where the current day’s catch is being sold. More information on purchasing fish can be found on CRITFC’s salmon marketing website www.critfc.org/harvest. Regular salmon sales updates are also found on CRITFC’s social media platforms such as Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/critfc/) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/CRITFC).