Tribes celebrate the return of salmon | Loomis

We must continue recovery efforts

  • Tuesday, June 12, 2018 2:30pm
  • Opinion

Every spring and summer, many tribes throughout the region celebrate the return of the salmon and the beginning of salmon fishing season.

My tribe, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, holds a First Salmon Ceremony and Blessing of the Fleet in May each year. We welcome the salmon home with drums, songs and prayers. Because salmon binds us all together as communities, we invite our neighbors to share this food that has sustained us for so many years. We honor the First Salmon by returning its remains to the water and we pray for the protection of our fishermen and their boats.

Salmon is food for our bodies and our spirits. For us, salmon is not optional. It is essential.

Salmon remind us that we are all part of nature and share the responsibility to ensure there will be salmon for future generations. That is why cooperative efforts such as Puget Sound Day on the Hill are so important. The two-day event is held each spring in Washington, D.C., It brings together tribal, federal, state and local governments, NGO’s, businesses, conservation groups and others to educate key decision makers about the importance of a healthy Puget Sound to the salmon, the Southern Resident Killer Whale, the Pacific Northwest and the entire nation.

We are fortunate that this year’s salmon returns are starting to rebound in a number of watersheds after several years of extremely low runs caused by drought, warm ocean temperatures and poor food supplies.

At the same time we are seeing sharply increasing pressure on the salmon resource from out-of-control seal and sea lion populations, and the food needs of Southern Resident Killer Whales.

The days are over when we could make up for declining salmon runs by reducing or eliminating harvest. Even if we stopped all salmon fishing everywhere in Western Washington, most stocks would never recover. There just isn’t enough good quality habitat to support them.

Salmon are tough. Despite dams, pollution, predators, climate change and many more challenges, they never stop trying to return home. We have to be just as tough when it comes to their recovery.

Reducing salmon harvest has never been the key to their recovery, yet that is what we have had to do because of steadily decreasing returns. Instead we need to do the hard work of protecting and restoring salmon habitat if we want salmon in our future.

Harvest reductions are only effective if there are equally strong efforts to protect and restore salmon habitat.

Lorraine Loomis is chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

More in Opinion

Seeking compromise on data privacy, Dems found controversy

Microsoft, Amazon and Comcast got invited to to help craft language but consumer groups did not

There’s enough money to fund Auburn schools without increasing property taxes

By Liv Finne, Washington Policy Center, for the Auburn Reporter For years,… Continue reading

Lawmakers need to re-examine budget before adjourning

Before lawmakers wrap up their work in Olympia, they should reexamine their… Continue reading

Inconvenient truth about batteries | Brunell

Each year Americans throw away more than three billion batteries constituting 180,000… Continue reading

Is a low-carbon fuel standard running out of political gas?

OLYMPIA — If the Democrat-controlled Legislature fails to pass a low-carbon fuel… Continue reading

Embrace the sharing economy for Earth Day

By Hannah Scholes, Waste Management, for the Auburn Reporter The sharing economy… Continue reading

Darker side of renewables | Brunell

Before our country, in haste, dives totally into renewable energy, we must… Continue reading

Democrats are in charge, but GOP is helping steer the debate

Republicans see their role as fixing or foiling bad bills. Democrats’ tax bills are their new target

Teaching, training tomorrow’s leaders, workers

Legislature urged to fully fund our community and technical colleges

Oil companies betting on electric technology | Brunell

Across the pond, London-based BP and Netherlands-headquartered Shell are looking to invest… Continue reading

Cascade Water Alliance turns 20, continues to run strong

By John Stokes, chair, Cascade Water Alliance, for the Auburn Reporter Cascade… Continue reading

What tax-raising idea will win out in March budget madness?

Democrats, who control the House and Senate, are set to release spending plans and revenue packages