Portland, Oregon –Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs, and Yakama tribal fishers are making their way to the Columbia River after the tribes opened the first commercial gillnet fishery of 2017 earlier today. They will harvest sockeye and summer chinook that will be available for purchase by the general public in time for the summer barbeque season.
Fisheries managers estimate that 198,500 sockeye and 63,100 summer chinook will return to the Columbia River over the next few weeks. These sizes of pre-season forecasted returns will allow tribal fishers to harvest approximately 17 thousand summer chinook and 14 thousand sockeye, providing a significant source of salmon to the general public throughout the summer season and peaking over the next two to three weeks.
“The tribal fishery on the Columbia River is a long-honored custom that can be traced back to ancient times when the rivers ran wild,” stated Jaime A. Pinkham, Executive Director for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. “Whether people come to the river to enjoy its fresh bounties or engage tribal fishers directly, the commercial fishery allows the public to enjoy a taste of history.”
Both treaty and non-treaty fishery catches have been agreed to as part of the U.S. v. Oregon Management Agreement and will be adjusted throughout the season as the run size is updated. 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 River 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)
- 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).