Treaty tribes have moral obligation to protect steelhead

The Seattle Times ran a couple of pieces over the weekend outlining the treaty tribal perspective on steelhead management. They both came in response to an earlier piece that missed important details about how hatchery steelhead programs benefit everyone and how we’re all working together to recover endangered fish.

Steven Toby of the Lummi Indian Business Council wrote:

We believe, and the science supports, that a well-run hatchery program with specific objectives related to supporting harvest while minimizing the impacts on the abundance and productivity of wild stocks provides a reasonable means to provide for a reliable harvest into the foreseeable future.


Hatchery reared, as well as wild, fish need greater habitat protection and restoration. Attacking the former for the ostensible purpose of protecting the latter does a disservice to all who rely on this precious natural resource. Perhaps the time has come to work together to create a future that honors the commitments of the past while providing for a bright sustainable future for future generations.

David Troutt, who serves as the Nisqually Tribe’s natural resources director followed up:

The Puget Sound community is already working hard to restore steelhead, in addition to chinook and Hood Canal summer chum. We know we’re working at a disadvantage due to limited funds and a lack of political will to change laws to protect habitat, protect water quality and deal with predation issues that are out of balance with the ecosystem.


The last thing we need to do is quibble about forms and paperwork. Just because a federal agency hasn’t finished its homework is no reason to throw everyone’s efforts under the bus. Instead of spending money on lawsuits about process, every one of us, every agency and every nonprofit needs to work together toward steelhead recovery.


The clock is ticking. Time and resources spent in court on paperwork are time and resources not spent on solving the real problems that steelhead are facing.