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Fisheries Management

Squaxin Adult Coho TrapThe tribes in Western Washington fish commercially, and for subsistence and ceremonial purposes. They fish for all species of salmon and steelhead in marine and freshwater areas of Puget Sound and the Washington coast.

US v. Washington (the “Boldt Decision”) in 1974 reaffirmed tribes as co-managers, along with the State of Washington, of fisheries resources.Co-management means that the tribes and the State of Washington, through the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), are jointly responsible for managing fisheries and hatchery programs, and that they collaborate in regional efforts to recover depleted fisheries resources.

Co-management involves the co-managers agreeing every year on salmon fishing seasons and on hatchery production objectives in Puget Sound and the Washington coast.

The fundamental principle that emerged from U.S. v Washington was assurance to tribes of the opportunity to catch half of the harvestable surplus of each run passing through their usual and accustomed areas (U&A). In most places the run comprises salmon returning to a single watershed (such as the Skagit River). In some places runs were aggregated into regional units as the basis for sharing (like South Puget Sound, Hood Canal, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca).

This fundamental allocation principle was subsequently extended, in sub-proceedings of U.S. v Washington, to other species of fish and shellfish