As of Tuesday, August 19, 2014
The fishers from the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs, and Yakama tribes are taking to the Columbia River for the fall commercial fishing season while the anticipated record-breaking fall chinook return is heading up the Columbia. The first of five tribal commercial gillnet openings started Aug. 18.
Tribal fishers could harvest as much as 240,000 fall chinook during these first five openings. A harvest of that size equates to approximately 3.5 million pounds of salmon.
The public is allowed to purchase salmon, steelhead, and coho directly from Indian fishers. Sales to the public should last into October with peak abundance from just before Labor Day through mid-September. The majority of the tribal harvest is sold to wholesale fish dealers and can be found in stores and restaurants around the Northwest.
Fishery biologists estimate that the 2014 fall chinook return will break last year’s record with 1.5 million fall chinook entering the Columbia, 1.4 million of which are destined for areas upstream of Bonneville Dam. Fishery managers are also predicting a record return of 61,000 Snake River fall chinook.
“The Columbia Basin’s fall chinook return is something that we can truly celebrate as a region,” said Paul Lumley, executive director for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. “Everyone benefits from this abundant return. It is the perfect example of what we should be striving for with every run of salmon and what can be accomplished when we all work together to rebuild these magnificent runs.”
Fisheries managers actively monitor the returns during fall fisheries so harvest can be adjusted as needed to remain within the strict limits established under the US v. Oregon fisheries management agreement.
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, North Bonneville - one mile east of Bonneville Dam, and Celilo Village.
For more information on sales locations and purchasing tips go to critfc.org/
harvest. Follow @ColumbiaSalmon on Twitter for updates.