Claire Corlett

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Wild Release: Colville Confederated Tribes’ Selective Salmon Harvest

Wild Release: Colville Confederated Tribes’ Selective Salmon Harvest


James Ives, Biologist, Confederated Tribes
of the Colville Reservation: Each day in fisheries is different. You never know everything. You
always learn something. This is a wonderful way for us to access our yearly catch versus
the old-style of dip netting, snagging or gill netting. I think this is our future and
I think we may even build up our fleet to another boat. Dave Roberts, Fish Biologist, Bonneville Power
Administration: BPA is in collaboration with the Colville Tribes to recover the wild [salmon]
runs. Therefore, we’re funding this live capture project in attempt to recover wild
runs while being able to harvest the hatchery fish. The Colville Confederated Tribes have lost
a lot of fishing opportunity and a big part of this project is teaching people to fish
again. They started fishing in early July before the thermal barrier set up and the
fishing was slower. They would make several sets of the net and catch a few dozen fish.
Whereas now, with this thermal barrier set up, you can get several hundred fish in one
set of the net, sometimes over a thousand. This purse seine can harvest the fish here
because they’re concentrated in one location. The fish want to go up the Okanagan [river]
toward their spawning grounds but the water’s too warm. So they’ll mill around at the
mouth of the Okanagan and when the water gets below about 70 degrees Fahrenheit the fish
will move. Above that they won’t. They’ll stay down here where it’s several degrees
cooler in the Columbia [river]. This isn’t something that would work everywhere on the
river [Columbia]. [music] When the fish are captured in the purse seine
the mesh size is such that they don’t get hung up in it — fins and teeth. They just
continually swim while fish are getting netted out for harvest or the wild fish getting pulled
out for release. They’re stressed but they [fish] aren’t in there for very long. When
there’s a good number of fish in the net, say a couple hundred or more, the sorting
process takes 45 minutes, maybe, and the fish are all in the water and they are relatively
unharmed. Dale Clark, Salmon Harvest Manager, Confederated
Tribes of the Colville Reservation: We’re releasing the wild origin fish so they can
go spawn and the hatchery origin we’re keeping to dole out to our tribe. We’ve never had
this many fish. We average, maybe, 300 to 400 sockeye and about 60 to 80 chinook per
delivery. In my opinion, this is the way to harvest salmon. Mike Rayton, Fisheries Biologist, Confederated
Tribes of the Colville Reservation: We have to sort through all of those fish. We don’t
want to pull a wild fish on board because that’s very stressful. So I’m grabbing
for the caudal peduncle [tail] of those chinook and bring it the surface, twist it around
and look for an adipose fin [on the back behind the dorsal fin and forward of the caudal fin],
or not. If it’s an adipose fin, if it’s present, lower the cork line and gently try
to get it over the cork line for a wild release. And when we say “wild release” that’s
for the benefit of the data collector. James Ives: We’re setting the example here.
We’re at the end of the line of these salmon and we want to make sure those wild ones get
loose. We’ve had less than one percent fatalities over the past several years in our purse seine
fishing, which shows us that it is successful and worth doing. I’m really proud to be
a part of this. Mike Rayton: Sometimes it’s not what you
do but how you do it. And I think we’re doing it right, and I can believe in that.

12 comments on “Wild Release: Colville Confederated Tribes’ Selective Salmon Harvest

  1. Kudos to the tenth degree for modifying your harvest practices to a higher degree of selectivity . You guys are leading the way to sustainable selective fishing in Washington State, and I hope all Washington Tribes see this video and duplicate your methods!

  2. Yes ! Yes ! I don't know a lot about netting and harvest during the runs, as Im in the midwest; but I thought there had to be some other way…….this is one of em ! GREAT JOB !!!

  3. Glad to see some effort is being made on the tribals part to protect the salmon runs. I thought I did spy a few fish with adipose fins going in the bucket though. May be I was mistaken. In any event, for them to be tossing back the natives is a big improvement!

  4. If you want to kill a fish , put them in a net. If you want to go "fishing" get a rod and reel. If you need to feed your family go to the grocery store. I koow the mortality rate of the wild fish caught in the seine is to high. It is unreasonable to think that this kind of net fishing in a river today is a sustainable option. Keep pushing for a more wild fish friendly solution.

  5. @4FISH1 Thanks for the comment. One of the goals of this project is to measure any mortality, so the Tribes collect data and provide results for all to see. YouTube does not allow posting of links but if you google "Colville selective harvest summary" you will find the summary data from last year. In short, the survival rate of wild fish released from the purse seine is very high: 99.9 percent for chinook and virtually 100 percent for steelhead.

  6. @jacklane6483 The Dream Catcher’s hull was built in Alaska. Kuller Fish Co. brought the skiff to their shop in Skamokawa, Wash., and retrofitted it into a purse seiner for the Colville Tribe’s selective salmon harvesting.

  7. Wait till u see that bullshit going on on the lower river, u make it look good In pond water, what's it gonna be like in shit weather

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