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Tribes open fall fishery

The Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs and Yakama tribes opened the first of three commercial gillnet fishing periods for the 2012 fall commercial season today. During the fall fishery, tribal fishers will harvest approximately 160,000 fish or an estimated 2 million pounds. The tribal sales allow the public to purchase salmon, steelhead and coho directly from tribal fishers.

Fisheries biologists estimate that 500,000 upriver fall chinook and 364,000 summer steelhead will enter the Columbia River. Many of the fall chinook returning to the Columbia River are the direct result of tribal restoration efforts, joint state/tribal programs and several tribal/federal partnerships that are increasing the abundance of salmon and steelhead in upriver areas. Harvest managers will monitor the runs on a continual basis and adjust the harvest levels and fishing periods accordingly.

“The fall fisher is often considered the backbone to the tribal fishery because it provides an important economic resource to the tribal communities and their families,” said Paul Lumley, executive director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. “The tribes pride themselves on their ability to share the tradition of the tribal fishery. We work hard to rebuild these fisheries so that everyone can benefit from healthy and sustainable salmon returns.”

The tribal fishery offers an ample supply of fish for the public through over-the-bank sales. Common sales locations include: Marine Park in Cascade Locks, Lone Pine in The Dalles, North Bonneville — one mile east of Bonneville Dam — and Columbia Point in Washington’s Tri-Cities area.

Tribal fishers can advise on topics including fish freshness and preparation.

The public is urged to call the salmon marketing program at (888) 289-1855 before heading up the river to find out where the day’s catch is being sold. More information is available on the salmon marketing website http://www.crit-fc.org/harvest.

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The Portland-based Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission is the technical support and coordinating agency for fishery management policies of the Columbia River Basin’s four treaty tribes: the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation and the Nez Perce Tribe.

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