Business Examiner: Shellfish Industry Beneficial Culturally, Economically for Tribes

The South Sound Business Examiner recently published an article about NOAA and Washington State’s shellfish initiative, including exploring the tribal culture and economy of shellfish harvesting.

From the story:

“Shellfish have always been an important part of tribal culture here in western Washington and this initiative will help protect and restore shellfish by increasing accountability for activities that pollute beds and threaten our treaty rights,” said Billy Frank Jr., chairman of Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. “As co-managers, the treaty Indian tribes stand ready to work with our state, federal and local partners, the shellfish industry and others to accomplish (its) goals.”

Thomas Mabe, a Seafood Industry Board member for the Suquamish Tribe, said that on their lands, shellfish harvesting provides jobs for five divers and 14 other employees — and generates $7 million in annual revenue.

“It’s a pretty substantial business for us,” Mabe said.

And because business is thriving, the Suquamish are eyeing expansion into niches like salmon, sea urchins and sea cucumbers — which have demand both locally and across the Pacific Ocean in Asia.