Column: Everyone benefits from tribal shellfish deal

"Puget Sound shellfish growers and 17 Indian tribes have reached a fair solution to a thorny treaty rights issue. The agreement rights a historical wrong, preserves the health of the shellfish industry, recognizes the importance of tribal treaty shellfish rights and provides greater harvest opportunities for everyone in the state.

Everyone loses when we turn to the courts to settle natural resource issues. The shellfish resource is too important -- to tribal cultures, to the shellfish industry, to the public and to the ecology of Puget Sound -- for us to fight over it.

The settlement lays to rest unresolved issues from a 1994 federal court ruling that upheld the tribes' treaty-reserved shellfish harvest rights. It reflects the spirit of cooperation that is the hallmark of natural resource management in Western Washington. Another recent example is the Puget Sound Partnership, a public/private effort created by Gov. Chris Gregoire to significantly improve the health of Puget Sound by 2020.

This agreement is a win for the tribes, growers and everyone else who lives in this state. Perhaps just as important, it is further proof that through the spirit of cooperation we can solve most of our problems all by ourselves, as long as we are willing to talk, neighbor to neighbor."

Get the Story:
Bill Taylor and Billy Frank Jr.: We all benefit from shellfish agreement (The Seattle Post-Intelligencer 5/30)

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Washington tribes finalize $33M shellfish deal (5/16)