Salmon Fishing in the Pacific Northwest

Stories from the PIF’s Time as a Commercial Salmon Fisherman: 1974-2002

All of these pages come from the old Puget Sound Gillnetters Association web site which I used to maintain years ago. Many, many other posts were deleted when the ISP account was closed.

As you read these posts, it is important to read and to keep in mind the legal concepts which were on going or had recently (then) passed into law. These legal concepts provide the context. In fact, it was often said, when we left the dock to go fishing, to make sure our lawyers were on board.

While the rest of the nation was busy watching Watergate and the rise of Reagan, we were being savaged from the pulpits, on local and national TV, and in the papers as: "last of the buffalo hunters". "baby rapers", "worse than child molesters", "pirates", "the only good commercial fisherman is a dead one", and that old faithful – "greedy criminals".

Many have asked me to write about my experiences, but so much is terribily painful to remember – let alone write about, so there is not to much of that to be found here. You know – watching all your hopes and dream being snatched from your grasp by forces which were nominally on your side, but proved instead to be your mortal enemies: no matter how hard you fight or how correct you are, they always have more money, more lawyers, more lies, and more laws to cripple you.

Lost at Sea:

A partial list of friends and acquaintances who dedicated their lives to feed the public, their families while making, what once was, a good living. A profession, never a job, never work. "They went down doing what they loved".

A Replica of the old PSGA Header

50_logo_1 save_fisherman_1
chum_salmon_close1b psga_harvest_logo chum_salmon_close1c

Some Salmon Fisheries Background

A Sampling of the Forces Which We Had to Contend Against

Some Images From the Old PSGA Site

Images of Who We Were

Why It Is No Longer Necessary To Think About Anything (2008)
While this piece is a satirical look at were the country seems headed in 2008, it has some further background on how commercial salmon fishing came to be destroyed in Washington State.

Fisheries Case Law as it pertains to:
Commercial Fishing, Tribal ‘Rights’, and the U.S. Constitution.

The complete listing of the court cases which involved commercial salmon fishing and shellfish harvesting, brought by Federal and State governments on behalf of the Pacific North West Indian Treaty Tribes. These cases, mostly brought in the 70s and 80s, defined all the Rights which Federally recognized tribes enjoy nationwide today. These Rights are guaranteed by the Constitution, unlike the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution (aka ‘The Bill of Rights’) which have been defined by the Supreme Court as privileges granted to non-Indians and which can be revoked at any given time.

It is important to stipulate here that as far as the Federal Government is concerned the only Indians are those from recognized Treaty Tribes – off-reservation Indians have no more Rights than anyone else.

U.S. Supreme Court:
You (non-Indians) have no rights under the U.S. Constitution, only privileges which can be revoked at any given time. Only Treaty Indians have Rights guaranteed by the Constitution. – U.S. Supreme Court in three different decisions involving Indian Treaty Rights.

Where Have All The Salmon Gone?

A Bit of History – How the Pacific North West Salmon Industry Was Destroyed – Pieces of the Puzzle

These are the laws we believed in:


1776/07/4: The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies


1787/09/17: U.S. Constitution and Amendments thereto


These are the Treaties which guided Fisheries laws for over a century.

1854: Treaty with the Nisqualli, Puyallup, etc., 1854


1855: Treaty of Neah Bay, 1855

The newly decided rulings sited below over turned those in which we believed and had guided the courts.


Heard Before: U.S. Supreme Court

1973/05/01: Puyallup Tribe v. Dept. of Game, 391 U.S. 392 (1968)

This ruling gave the tribes the right to fish with non-traditional gear like gill nets, set nets and purse seines off reservation. It should be pointed out that prior to this decision, many tribal Indians fished off reservation with the same gear. The significance was they no longer had to buy a permit from the State of Washington to fish with said gear and could fish in the rivers – something hereto not permitted anyone, thus protecting the returning salmon from mass harvest once they had reached the river.


Heard Before: U.S. Supreme Court

1973/11/01: Washington Game Dept. v. Puyallup Tribe, 414 U.S. 44 (1973)

This ruling gave the tribes access to in-river fisheries, but provides that the state was not obligated to subsidize them with planted fish. This provided the legal avenue for the tribes to later petition the Federal Government for access to all planted fish.


Heard Before: U.S. Supreme Court

1977/06/01: Puyallup Tribe v. Washington Game Dept., 433 U.S. 165 (1977)

This ruling rejected tribal claims to exclusive fishing rights to salmon and made catch accounting voluntary. Therefore, no records were kept on how many fish the tribes caught, making salmon in-river escapement impossible to judge. This led to wholesale elimination of many salmon stocks.

Basically the above three cases tested whether the Tribes were able to fish at will in river. Previously, state law prohibited anyone fishing in river to protect those fish which had passed through the fisheries and were breeding stock. The nunber of fish passed through to a river were pre-planned before the fishery began – harvest levels and areas of harvest were set accordingly.


Heard Before: United States District Court, Western District of Washington

1978: United States of America et. al. v. State of Washington 1978

Known as The Bold Decision and as Boldt I. Boldt was specifically brought back to Washington State from his seat on the Wage and Price Board for this case by President Nixon. Judge Boldt decided everything in favor of the tribes, gave them all the fish, took boats from the non-Indian fishermen and gave them to the tribes in a fair and balanced bit of judicial reasoning, told the State of Washington to take a hike, and made his tribal in-laws happy and wealthy.


Heard Before: United States District Court, Western District of Washington

1978/10/01: PSVOA, PSGA v. US Dept of State 1978

This ruling gave the tribes the same access and accounting to Canadian origin sockeye and pink salmon – managed by an international commission (International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission – fisheries scientists and managers from the US and Canada working together: 1937-1985) as they were given on US origin stocks in the State of Washington. Sockeye salmon was the ‘money’ fish in the Washington fisheries.

The ruling undid 60 years of successful, non-political, scientific management to rebuild the sockeye runs to the Fraser River system. As the Washington State stocks were decimated, so was the sockeye. The IPSFC was later dissolved because it could no longer manage the stocks, and replaced by a political management system from Ottawa.

As the Washington State stocks were decimated by out of control Federal Tribal management agencies, so was the sockeye. The IPSFC was later dissolved because it could no longer manage the stocks, and was replaced by a political management system from Ottawa. The last meeting of the IPSFC saw the managers quietly crying onstage, they knew all the work they and their predecessors had done over the decades would now be undone.


1979: Heard Before: U.S. Supreme Court

1979/07/01: Washington v. Fishing Vessel Assn., 443 U.S. 658 (1979)

This landmark ruling that sets Treaty Indians above all other U.S. citizens, and legalizes racial discrimination, as well as founding the principle that future consequences flowing from Treaties entered into by the Federal Government fall on specific individuals only; vacates the Boldt Decision.


1979/07/11 Memorandum on WA v. Fishing Vessel Association

This is the Memorandum from the Law Firm hired by the PSGA to take the Boldt Decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. It briefly outlines the Court’s main points and details issues for further litigation. The Boldt Decision was VACATED, i.e. overturned.


Heard Before: United States District Court, Western District of Washington

1979: United States et al. v. State of Washington et al. 1979

Known as Boldt II. Judge Boldt sets the stage for previously unrecognized tribes to petition the Federal Government for official status, so they can cash in on the salmon bonanza, while seeming to side with the larger tribes – such as the Lummi, by denying the smaller tribes fishing rights.


1979/12/01: Chile Tales – Gone to Chile most every one…

1979/12/01: Ask Frank Haw – Haw Is Power Behind Fishing Throne
The Early Days


1980 April 2Puget Sound Gillnetters v. Moos

The State of Washington asks to become the manager of the Fisheries. The Court agrees. The PSGA opposed this move.

The PSGA opposed because the State was not only a terrible manager, but also was actively attempting to criminally charge as many fishermen as possible in order to revoke their licences. The State was quietly selling the resource out the back door to the highest bidder. Having lost the majority of the fisheries tax revenue in Boldt I, the State now valued the resource as worth only the wholesale price of salmon carcases and eyed eggs; the value of fisheries jobs was minimized to hourly wages. The State commissioned a widely publized ‘Study’ to prove that non-Indian commercial salmon fishermen were better off taking jobs ashore.


1993/09/14: Rumors of War?


1995/04/24: Hot Business with Chile

1995/04/25: Southern Exposure

1995/04/24: Chile’s Farmed Salmon Output

1995/10/25: Overfishing


1996 – Heard Before: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

1996/10/01: USA v. State of Washington October 1996

This case gives a little background on Judge Boldt and denies more tribes status as Treaty Tribes.

Heard Before: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

United States of America v. State of Washington June 1996

This ruling denies Non-Indian Commercial fishermen access to the process which determines what and where they can harvest shellfish, specifically shrimp, crab, sea urchins and sea cucumbers and gooyduck.

1996/09/13: Heard at Seattle Expo 1996


Update from 1996 and my Comments and a Summary

1996/11/15: 1996 – The Shepard Letter

1996/12/13: Gary D. Sharp’s Oceanic Fishes and Physics

1996/12/14: Gary D. Sharp’s Pieces of the Puzzle

1996/12/28: PIF’s Email on Where Have All The Salmon Gone?


1997/02/04: Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission Report Day 1 – Sport Issues

1997/02/04: Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission Report – Day 2 – Crab Issues

1997/02/04: Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission Report – Day 2 – Salmon Issues

1997/02/06: Two Fish In Every Creek

1997/02/13: February 1997 Sockeye Update

1997/02/20: February 1997 Second Sockeye Update

1997/07/09: Friends In High Places

1997/09/14: The Players


1998 – Heard Before: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

1998/01/01: USA v. State of Washington 9635014 January 1998

Known as Shellfish 1. This landmark ruling reaffirms the Boldt Decision which was vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court, and upholds the notion that shellfish are fish, as well as the concept of Special Masters, as well as furthering the principle that any future consequences flowing from Treaties entered into by the Federal Government fall on specific individuals only, without any compensation.

Heard Before: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

1998/09/01: USA v. State of Washington 9635014o (1998) September 1998

Known as Shellfish II. This ruling adds further extreme opinions to USA v State of Washington, 9635014, above.

1998/02/13: Washington State Permit Buy-Back Bill

1998/02/13: The Third Factor

1998/03/28: Vindication

1998/06/13: Gary D. Sharp’s Its About Time

1998/06/24: Congratulations to the PSGA

1998/10/13: Simple Questions Heard on KVI Radio

1998/10/06: Good Protein Going to Waste

1998/12/13; Concerned Sportsman Speaks His Mind

1998/12/13: Chinook Catch Data for San Juan Islands

1998/12/13: Gary D. Sharp’s The ‘Global Warming Crisis’

1998/12/13: Earmarked – Barcoded Fish, Bees & People

1998/12/14: Gary D. Sharp’s Resume

1998/12/14: House Bill 2493


2001/05/13: Fish Fraud

2001/06/18: WDFW, Tribes Watching Sockeye Numbers to Determine Chance for Fishery

Commercial fishermen were being used once again by the Greens and their allies the global multinational corporations. The PIF traveled to Klamath Falls, Oregon to see first hand what is happening there – folks it’s not about fish or any endangered species. Media news items are posted further down.

Everyone was in on Klamath Falls each with their own agendas: Green Groups, Eco-Terrorists, the Federal Government, Big Businesses and Big Grants.

2001/07/19: Eco-Terrorists and Eco-Terrorism
PIF editorial for July 20th on the dastardly involvement of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, which despite the name is really another radical green group.

2001/07/30: What is happening at Klamath Falls, Oregon?
The Methods and Media, the Players and Their Allies, the ‘Greens’, and the Opportunists

2001/07/30: GOP Won’t Try to Halt Last Rules By Clinton

2001/08/02: The Green Triad

2001/08/04: Power Play at EPA Puts Crunch on Cranberry Farmers

2001/08/08: Green Groups Blasted In Suit Over Klamath Water

2001/08/12: The Animal Rights 2001 Conference
Terrorism and a Radical Agenda at a Hilton Hotel
by Jim Beers, a Virginia Sportsman

2001/08/26: Public Trust Doctrine Lawsuit Memorandum

2001/08/29: Klamath Falls: Tough Decisions at the Headgates

2001/08/29: Audubon’s Membership At Crossroads

2001/08/30: Klamath – Pitchforks Not Required – Irrigators Storm the Fence

2001/09/01: Unconstitutional Origins of the Endangered Species Act

Heard Before: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

2001/09/01: Oregon Coho Court Order September 2001

…overturns the August 10, 1998 NMFS Oregon Coho listing decision, contained at 63 Fed. Reg. 42,587, as unlawful, arbitrary and capricious and affirming that hatchery-spawned salmon are biologically indistinguishable from naturally spawned salmon. The order reverses the action by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) listing the Oregon Coast coho salmon as threatened under the Endangered Species Act…

2001/09/28: Ford Motor Company funds “Islamism” Terrorists as well as U.S. Eco-Terrorism


2002/12/13: Fisheries, Natural Resources, and Property Rights: 1993-2002

2002 – Klamath Falls External links:

Some media takes:

No Ford in my future
Coho Salmon Delisted, End of the Farce
Farmers Deliver Water to Klamath Refuge
Rural Cleansing – The Greens’ Strategy
Kimberley A. Strassel – Wall Street Journal – "Do the people who give money to environmental groups realize the endgame is to evict people from their land?"
Wyden, bankers duped by the American Land Conservancy
A Lightning Bolt of Reality – The UN Threat To America
Klamath Falls Is Not A Local Issue
Klamath Falls’ Invisible Foe
Are Klamath farmers guinea pigs?


2006/03/12: Commercial Fishing Video Clips

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