Swinomish Blesses the Fleet

The Skagit Valley Herald covered the Swinomish Tribe’s Blessing of the Fleet:

More than 500 people attended the annual First Salmon Ceremony on Thursday afternoon to feast on 350 pounds of Columbia River spring chinook salmon, 300 pounds of crab, 250 pounds of prawns and platefuls of shellfish. Guests included tribal and nontribal dignitaries from Skagit, King and Whatcom counties, as well as people from all walks of life.

“We give thanks to the water and return the salmon to the water,” said Abe McDonald, a tribal fisherman who helped in the blessing ceremony. “We pray for a safe and good harvest.”

Tribal fishermen have much to be thankful for this year. Salmon runs on the Skagit River show signs of improving. Elsewhere on the West Coast, fishing has been severely restricted because of the crash in the chinook and coho salmon populations in California and Oregon.

For the first time in several years, the projections for sockeye salmon returns are high enough to allow the tribe to have a fishery on the Skagit, rather than in the Baker River, said Loraine Loomis, Swinomish fisheries manager. The tribal sockeye season will start at the end of June.