Treaty-reserved fishing rights, upheld by the courts in U.S. vs. Washington, established the tribes as co-managers of the groundfish resource. The tribes work closely with the state of Washington and U.S. government to develop and implement species conservation plans for all groundfish stocks in Puget Sound and along the Pacific coast.
The halibut fishery occurs in the spring, between March and May, primarily in coastal ocean areas, but with some harvest in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Rosario Strait. The blackcod fishery occurs in coastal marine areas, from March until June. Halibut and blackcod are caught, primarily, on long-lines. This type of fishing anchors quarter-mile lengths of groundline in deep water, to which are attached baited hooks.
The Makah Tribe has participated in the Pacific whiting fishery also occurs in coastal ocean waters since the mid-90s. Whiting are caught by mid-water trawling, and the catch is delivered and processed at sea.
The Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC) regulates the catch of blackcod, Pacific whiting, rockfish, and flatfish. Annual tribal quotas are established for blackcod and whiting The International Pacific Halibut Commission regulates the halibut fishery, and sets a tribal harvest quota for the northwest tribes.
Halibut are managed through the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC), a bilateral management entity established in 1923 by the governments of the United States and Canada. The mandate of the organization is to study and preserve the stocks of Pacific halibut within the territorial waters of both nations.