Environment | Law

Washington court backs Yakama Nation man in fishing case

The state of Washington lacks jurisdiction over a fishing site that was set aside by Congress, the Washington Supreme Court ruled today.

Lester Ray Jim, a member of the Yakama Nation, was ticketed by the state for unlawfully retaining five undersized sturgeon and unlawful use of a net. The incident occurred at the Maryhill Treaty Fishing Access Site on the Columbia River.

Jim challenged the citation, saying he was exercising his tribal fishing rights. The court agreed, noting the special nature of the Maryhill site.

"The state lacks criminal jurisdiction at Maryhill because the treaty fishing access site is tribal land, established and reserved by Congress for the exclusive use of tribal members," the Judge Susan Owens wrote for the 6-3 majority.

Judge Charles K. Wiggins authored a dissent. He said the state assumed jurisdiction over Indian Country through Public Law 280.

The Maryhill site was set aside by Congress in 1988 to address the destruction of tribal fishing grounds when the federal government built the Bonneville Dam.

Get the Story:
State Supreme Court backs Yakama fisherman in sturgeon case (The Yakima Herald-Republic 2/9)

Washington Supreme Court Decision:
Jim v. State [Majority] | Jim v. State [Dissent]

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