Closing fisheries isn’t totally uncommon for treaty tribes when faced with declining runs (here, here and here). In fact, in some places tribal fisheries have declined up to 80 or 90 percent because of declining salmon habitat.

But the Nisqually Indian Tribe’s decision this year to totally forgo their chum season this year is historic:

From King 5:

“It was tough to explain to our elders and our tribal members that we’re not going to be able to fish this year, because of the lack of salmon,” Frank said.

For the first time ever, the Nisqually tribe won’t fish for chum salmon. They’re keeping the river closed, like they have since August.

“This is gold to us. To protect this water. To protect everything in the Puget Sound,” Frank said.

The Nisqually Tribe wasn’t the only tribe staying off the water this year. The Puyallup Tribe of Indians didn’t open a coho fishery this fall, despite decent returns throughout Puget Sound: