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WDFW refuses to close fisheries despite Quinault Nation citing ‘alarmingly low returns’ of salmon

TAHOLAH, Wash. — The Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) has sent a second letter to the Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to close fall Coho salmon fisheries in Grays Harbor and the Queets River due to “alarmingly low returns” of wild adult Coho salmon.

The letter sent to the WDFW stated:

“We are disappointed at WDFW’s ‘wait and see’ attitude and reluctance to take precautionary actions to protect the resources entrusted to our stewardship in the face of uncertainty.” -QIN

Quinault Indian Nation President Guy Capoeman had sent an earlier letter dated October 30, 2023, asking WDFW to close the hatcheries immediately. In that letter, QIN urged WDFW to close Coho fisheries under its jurisdiction early in the Queets River and Grays Harbor.

WDFW has since decided to keep the fisheries open.

The later reply from WDFW reads:

“We agree that the limited information so far this year, suggests that the coho return is likely below pre-season expectations, but there is still a great deal of uncertainty.” - WDFW

“We understand this closure has brought hardship to our tribal fishermen and their families, but as stewards of our salmon for today and future generations, it’s the right thing to do,” said Quinault Fisheries Policy Spokesperson Cleve Jackson. “Our shared responsibility to be good stewards of our sacred salmon requires us to be cautious and proactive before it’s too late.”

QIN decided in October to close its fisheries early after seeing far lower catch numbers than were anticipated by the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s preseason projections.

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