Portland, Oregon – Fishers from the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs, and Yakama tribes will see the benefits of years of salmon recovery efforts when they take to the Columbia River for the 2015 fall chinook commercial fishery. If this run comes in as forecast, Indian fishers could be harvesting over 170,000 fall chinook, representing roughly 2.2 million pounds.
While sales have been open since summer, August 17, 2015, marks the beginning of the largest tribal fishery allowing the public to purchase more salmon, steelhead, and coho directly from Indian fishers. Sales to the public should last into October with peak abundance from just before Labor Day through mid-September. The majority of the tribal harvest is sold to wholesale fish dealers and can be found in stores and restaurants around the Northwest.
Although regional fish populations have struggled with high water temperatures, biologists estimate that the 2015 fall chinook return will be the third largest year in recent history with nearly 800,000 fall chinook entering the Columbia that are destined for areas upstream of Bonneville Dam. Fishery managers are also predicting over 300,000 summer steelhead, 20,000 Snake River fall chinook and a healthy run nearly 200,000 coho.
“This year’s forecast fall chinook return shows what we can accomplish when the entire region works together to rebuild, restore, and protect Columbia River salmon,” said Kat Brigham, chairwoman of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. “After the low returns in the 1980s, it is a real testament to the power of partnerships. Thanks to decades of hard work, everyone, both tribal and non-tribal, is now able to bring fish home for their families and their communities. The tribes are committed to this collaboration to ensure that growing and sustainable fish returns will continue to bless the Columbia River basin and its residents.”
Fisheries managers actively monitor the returns during fall fisheries so harvest can be adjusted as needed to remain within the strict limits established under the US v. Oregon fisheries management agreement. This agreement has the goal of protecting, rebuilding, and enhancing upper Columbia River fish runs while providing treaty Indian and non-Indian harvest at a level appropriate to ensure the sustainability of the resource.
The tribal fishery offers an abundant supply of fish for the public through over-the-bank sales. Common sales locations include: Marine Park in Cascade Locks, North Bonneville – one mile east of Bonneville Dam on the Washington shore, Koberg-just east of Hood River, and Celilo Village.
The public is urged to call CRITFC’s salmon marketing program at (888) 289-1855 before heading up the Columbia River for more up-to-date information on sales locations, availability, and purchasing tips. More information is available on the salmon marketing website https://critfc.org/harvest. Follow @ColumbiaSalmon on Twitter for updates.