Portland, Oregon – An abundance of sockeye and summer chinook are making their way up the Columbia River and the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs, and Yakama tribes have begun their summer commercial fishing that will bring salmon sales to the general public in time for summer barbeques and the Fourth of July weekend. Biologists estimate 394,000 sockeye and 73,000 summer chinook will return to the Columbia River over the next few weeks. These returns will allow tribal fishers to harvest approximately 21,000 summer chinook and 27,600 sockeye. A significant source of salmon available to the general public, the sale of sockeye and summer chinook should continue throughout the summer season, peaking over the next two to three weeks.
Columbia River sockeye are prized for their bright red meat and high oil content. Not as large as chinook, sockeye are ideal for smaller families. Most of the returning sockeye are heading to the Okanagan River in north-central Washington. The recent surge in the sockeye returns is due to a number of sockeye enhancement programs currently underway by the Okanagan Nation Alliance, a group of First Nations tribes in British Columbia.
Both treaty and non-treaty fishery catches will be adjusted throughout the season as the run size is updated. The tribal fishery is protected under 1855 treaties with the federal government, where the Yakama, Warm Springs, Umatilla, and Nez Perce tribes reserved the right to fish at all usual and accustomed fishing places in the Columbia River Basin—a treaty right that reserves ceremonial, subsistence, and commercial uses. Tribal and non-tribal harvest rates have been agreed to as part of the U.S. v. Oregon Management Agreement.
Sales can occur at various locations along the Columbia River, at farmer’s markets and common direct-to-public sales locations including: Marine Park in Cascade Locks, Celilo, North Bonneville (one mile east of Bonneville Dam), and Columbia Point in the Tri-Cities area.
A few tips on purchasing from the tribal fishery:
- Pack a cooler with ice to keep your purchase fresh.
- Sales from tribal fishers generally run from 10 am to dusk.
- Price is determined at the point of sale.
- Most sales are cash only.
- Buyers should request a receipt.
- Tribal fishers can advise on topics including fish freshness and preparation.
The public should call the salmon marketing program at (888) 289-1855 before heading up the river to find out where the day’s catch is being sold. Fish will be available every day. More information is available on the salmon marketing website www.critfc.org/harvest. Regular salmon sales updates are also found on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ColumbiaSalmon.