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Hoopa Tribe Went 10 Times Over Trinity River Salmon Catch Limit

by Andy Martin/WON staff writer, March 23, 2018

HOOPA – While sport and commercial salmon fishermen had their season completely shut down last year out of Eureka, Trinidad and Crescent City because of a record-low forecast for the Klamath and Trinity rivers, the Hoopa Tribe knowingly exceeded its catch limits by 10 times, according to documents released at last week’s Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting.

Questioned by the National Marine Fisheries Service about its catch of 1,660 fall salmon last year when its quota was only 163 fish, the Hoopa Tribe admitted it knowingly went over its limits and allowed tribal members to continue fishing, even though the fall salmon season for sport anglers was completely shut down last fall in the Klamath and Trinity rivers, and ocean seasons were severely curtailed as well to protect Klamath Basin salmon. 

Barry Thom, regional administrator for NMFS, wrote a letter to the Hoopa tribal chairman asking why the tribe went over its allocation when other fisheries were shut down. 

“I am interested in any information you have regarding how the Hoopa Valley Tribe’s KRFC (Klamath River fall Chinook salmon) fishery was managed in 2017 and how the tribe’s fishery will be managed consistent with the salmon FMP in 2018,” Thom wrote the tribe. 

The Yurok Tribe also questioned why the Hoopa Tribe went so far over its limits when other fisheries were closed. “In spite of this dire projection for the Klamath fall Chinook, and the associated conservation threat facing the salmon stock the Yurok people depend upon, the Hoopa Valley Tribe harvested an amount of salmon that exceeded their allocation by more than ten-fold,” Yurok tribal chairman Thomas O’Rourke wrote in a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Interior Secretary Tyan Zinke. 

“In fact, the Hoopa harvest of 1,660 adult fall Chinook in 2017 was greater than the tribal and non-tribal allocations combined,” O’Rourke wrote. “Our upriver neighbor fished well beyond their allocation, impacting the already minimal spawning escapement, thereby threatening the very stock that we are trying to protect.” 

Responding to Thom’s letter, the Hoopa tribe blamed the U.S. government and water users for the decline in Klamath and Trinity salmon, and said it continued to harvest fish because its biologists determined the run was stronger than expected. 

“Early last fall, our fisheries scientists pointed to evidence in Trinity River, the largest Klamath tributary, that the run appeared stronger than anticipated,” an unsigned statement from the Hoopa Tribe sent to NMFS said. “That evidence and the fact that in 2017 we observed our most sacred world renewal ceremony led our tribal council to allow our membership to continue to fish to provide salmon for our ceremonies.” 

Last year’s ocean abundance of Klamath and Trinity salmon was estimated at 50,000 adult fall kings. This year, the forecast is nearly 350,000 adult fall kings, which will likely lead to ocean and in-river seasons for sport anglers, and a tribal gillnet quota of around 20,000 fish. 




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