For the second consecutive year, the Nisqually Indian Tribe has closed their coho fishery early to protect a weak returning run.

“It’s a hard decision to close fisheries, but for the long term health of the coho stock, it’s a decision we had to make,” said Georgiana Kautz, natural resources manager for the Nisqually Tribe. This year tribal fisherman caught 1,000 fewer fish than last year. “Salmon are the center of our natural resources centered economy and culture,” she said.

This year’s run was coming in even lower than last, with only 75 coho having returned to the tribe’s hatchery as of late October. The tribe needs 800 coho on hand at the Kalama Creek hatchery to produce enough fish for next year’s release. Kalama Creek is the only hatchery in the Nisqually watershed that produces coho and is one of two hatcheries operated by the Tribe.

“Future fisheries depend on there being enough fish in the hatcheries each year,” Kautz said. “Last year’s month early closure of the tribal fishery on the Nisqually meant that we were able to almost make escapement at our hatchery.”

The causes of the decreased run is still being explored, but impacts of the 2007 floods on young coho, in addition to Puget Sound conditions, are being considered.

(END)

For more information, contact: David Troutt, natural resources director, Nisqually Tribe, (360) 438-8687. Craig Smith, harvest biologist, Nisqually Tribe, (360) 438-8687.