Steven Toby: Northwest tribes maintain responsibility for salmon

Every year, the Lummi Nation of Washington releases one million coho salmon from its Lummi Bay Hatchery. Still image from NW Treaty Tribes / Vimeo

Steven Toby, a council member for the Lummi Nation of Washington, explains why tribes in the Pacific Northwest are taking many steps, including raising salmon in hatcheries, to protect their treaty resources:
The economic vitality of the Puget Sound region has been built on the backs of native salmon and steelhead. The tribes of the Pacific Northwest entered into treaties with the United States specifically reserving the right to harvest the fish that have been sacrificed on the altar of nonnative progress in this region. The United States owes these tribes a solemn obligation to ensure that their treaty rights are not further eroded. Hatchery operations have been developed and refined throughout the Puget Sound in order to mitigate for the significant losses caused by the nonnative development of the region.

The future of the tribes of the Pacific Northwest is inextricably linked to the salmon and steelhead, and we feel a moral obligation to protect and restore sufficient natural habitat to provide for our harvest needs. The tribes need the fish in order to sustain our physical, economic and community health. We are actively participating in the protection and restoration of the Puget Sound ecosystem in order to save our salmon relatives.

What is most troubling about the recent opinion piece by the relative newcomers to this region is their apparent desire to attack hatchery operations. The closure of hatchery operations would eliminate the harvest not only for the tribes, but for all commercial and recreational fishers as well.

Get the Story:
Steven Toby: Northwest tribes have moral obligation to have salmon and steelhead protected (The Seattle Times 3/12)

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