Fish vs the Pacific Northwest

This post was written prior to learning of the Army Corp of Engineers decision to deny consideration of the permit for the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point.

Coming from an agricultural background I have been watching with interest the “What’s Upstream” story. If your only source of news is the McClatchy Group or TV news from Seattle you may have missed it. But most savvy people interested in real news now have other sources, like the KGMI morning news of which Liberty Road is a volunteer part. So imagine my surprise when a recent Bellingham Herald story on the closure of salmon fishing had two things in common with one of our reports: (1) the NW Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC) and (2) shutting down economic drivers in our state.

Herald / McClatchy Article

In a nutshell: The NW Indian Fisheries Commission has been spreading a false scenario across our state about purported damage from agriculture on their fisheries. In the state of Washington the agricultural industry represents $51 Billion of our economy and employs more than Microsoft and Boeing combined. As far as I can tell from the NWIFC sponsored campaign they would like to see the agriculture industry eliminated from our state. Now you may think this is extreme, but take a look at the Herald article on the closure of Salmon fishing in Puget Sound. The NWIFC will be responsible this year for wiping out the $100 million sports fishing industry in our state. Entire communities will be negatively impacted by the closure.

Speaking of communities, did you hear the protester chants along the Guide Meridian last weekend – “Make Lynden Coast Salish”?  Are specific communities going to be targeted as well?

In their own words, this is who the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission says they are: “We, the Indians of the Pacific Northwest, recognize that our fisheries are a basic and important natural resource and of vital concern to the Indians of this state, and that the conservation of this natural resource is dependent upon effective and progressive management. We further believe that by unity of action, we can best accomplish these things, not only for the benefit of our own people, but for all of the people of the Pacific Northwest. – Preamble to the NWIFC Constitution “

NWIFC Annual Report

As far as I can see both stories have one more thing in common: The NWIFC has forgotten an important part of their own words … ‘all the people of the Pacific Northwest.’

Last year I had the good fortune to travel to Alaska. During the trip we visited a salmon hatchery and several Indian cultural centers. Imagine my surprise to hear that Alaska has restored their salmon runs. Restoration was not easy, it took time and the efforts of many. It is a common good news story shared by native and non native alike.

My hope is that someday “the Indians of the Pacific Northwest” will abandon their “us vs. them” mentality. Then we will be able to work together for the good of all the people of the Pacific Northwest and create a good news story here too.

`Lorraine Newman

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