Jordan Schrader’s article yesterday on the tribes’ decision to boycott recent fish consumption rate meetings leaves the reader wondering why exactly they aren’t participating.

When I sat down with Billy Frank Jr., this is what he said:

It isn’t as simple as a “lack of progress.”

Before August, the tribes for many years have pushed for a higher fish consumption rate. We’d been working directly with Ecology on it for the past four years. We thought we were actually getting somewhere and that we’d have a decision before the end of the year.

Ecology’s decision to delay the process was like running half of a marathon and then starting over. Their claim that the process will be speeded up is like saying they’ll try and run the marathon faster this time.

Ecology’s approach slows progress in development of a more accurate fish consumption rate and obscures the positive results we’ve jointly accomplished during the past several years.

In addition, there was a lot of meaningful information that is now being left out of technical reports. Most importantly, any sort of mention of a proposed rate.

As Francis Charles, chair of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe said in her letter to Ecology:

We are particularly concerned about Ecology’s decision to strip out the Fish Consumption Rate recommendations that were included in its draft FCR report. It is hard to see why this is not simply an accommodation of those interest that seek to delay and negotiate down a scientifically valid FCR. Ecology’s efforts to effectively “restart the clock” will only serve to maintain and extend a risk and exposure level that can no longer be justified on any scientific or public health basis. …We can no longer afford to continue to kick the FCR down the road.