Tribal Fishing 201 Part 2: How Are Fisheries Managed?

I’m a fisheries manager or
fisheries director for the Swinomish Tribe and I have been since 1975. When I accepted the job my father who was still alive then he says, “Okay, you want to get into the political business.” He says, “You’re going to get into it now.” And that was the truth. The tribes they could only fish on reservation and of course the fish are you know not always on reservation and so they started going
out, they started getting caught and they started going to jail. So they made a movement and went to court. We reserved our hunting rights and our fishing rights and we get fifty percent of the fish. The Boldt decision gave us co-management authority but there was no communication between the state and the tribes. In the late 80s I think we had 121 court cases. We didn’t work with the state. They didn’t work with us. It was actually Bill Wilkerson and Billy Frank Jr. that got together and said we got to stop this. I was very doubtful that we were going to get anywhere but we did. We did. And we started working together with the state. We quit taking each other to court and then we started regulating the fisheries the way we were supposed to and out of that came the North of Falcon process. Our biologists and state biologists, they
develop a forecast and that’s done in December-January and by February we have agreed-upon forecasts for all of the areas. Every North of Falcon is a challenge. Sometimes you have to make hard decisions. What you’re going to do,
what you have to cut back. We have to approve our final plan and then we go fishing. Everything is counted. We know where our fishermen are fishing. We can tell you who’s out there and who’s not out there. You have a quota to catch
and you have to stick within that quota and maybe you caught that quota then you have to quit. I love the job. I love working with the tribes and I even love working with the state. I would not be in this job if I wasn’t hopeful. I do believe that we will come together and fix the habitat, you know, and get our
fish the way it was back in the early 80s or 70s. We don’t believe that we should be fighting over the last fish. We don’t believe that we should be fishing
the last fish. We believe that we should be recovering our salmon.

local_offerevent_note November 10, 2019

account_box Gilbert Heid


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