PUYALLUP (August 5, 2008) – Sharp cuts in fishing by the Puyallup Tribe of Indians this year will allow sport fishermen to start fishing for chinook on the Puyallup River two weeks early.

“The tribe is going to be off the water more this year to reduce impacts on returning chinook, and this gave more opportunity for sport fishermen,” said Chris Phinney, the tribe’s salmon fisheries management biologist. The cuts by the tribe were agreed to last spring during the tribal and state salmon fisheries management process.

The Puyallup Tribe has been reducing its in-river chinook fishery for the past several years to protect returning wild chinook. This is the second year the tribe will have no directed chinook fishery.

Sport anglers on the Puyallup are required to release wild chinook, decreasing impact to the stock. “This kind of selective fishery works best in places like the lower Puyallup River where there are a lot of hatchery fish and very few wild fish,” said Phinney. Tribal and state co-managers estimate that more than 80 percent of the chinook returning to the Puyallup this year will be hatchery fish. “With that large numbers of hatchery fish available, it’s easy for sport fishermen to sort wild and hatchery fish.”

“Unlike in saltwater mixed stock areas where there are dozens of stocks present, terminal areas like rivers are very effective places to have selective sport fisheries,” he said.

Unlike sport and non-treaty commercial fishermen who can chase productive runs of salmon around the region, tribal fishermen are bound by treaty to fish only in certain areas. “The Puyallup Tribe has an inherent interest in seeing more salmon return to the Puyallup River because this is our home river,” said Herman Dillon, Jr., chair of the tribe’s fish commission. “If salmon don’t return here, we lose an important part of our way of life.”

“Fisheries have been constricted because the wild salmon we’re trying to protect don’t have much habitat to return to,” said Dillon. “The first step in ensuring there are strong salmon fisheries in the future is making sure there is good habitat for salmon.”

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For more information, contact: Chris Phinney, harvest management biologist, Puyallup Tribe of Indians, (253) 845-9225. Emmett O’Connell, information officer, NWIFC, (360) 528-4304, eoconnell@nwifc.org