Save our water and fishing rights!

Last year something very bad happened to Sandy Point.  Our bay was taken away from us for over a month and a half.  The reason, Washington Dept. of Fish/Wildlife decided that non-tribal members were trespassing and causing issues with the local Lummi Tribe.  The emergency closure was put into place and anybody east of the line from Sandy Point to Gooseberry was fined and kicked off the water.  This water is navigable and may not be enforced for trespass.

The closure happened roughly between Sept 4th and October 15th.  The tribe is upset that recreational fisherman are taking fish and wish to retain every fish that may return to the government funded hatchery.

When I approached the DFW, they stated that trespass was the reason.  When disputed, they then turned to a boundary issue and defining tidelands.  When that was disputed, then went quiet and said they weren’t going to put the rule in place.

Guess what….???   The rule was put in place.

After the tribes have fought the WA courts 3 times (losing each time) to try and get the state waters to become private and tribe owned, the DFW gave them what they wanted and closed the area anyways.  The rules are gray, but part of it states that we can’t even go on the water.  They are making a push to take Lummi Bay away from non-tribal members and retain every fish that they possibly can.  Please know this, those tidelands are not tribal owned.  They are held in trust from the state.

I have made multiple attempts to try and get a voice loud enough to make them act accordingly and remove the closure.  They even went as far as saying they had never even been to Lummi Bay, making the reason for this closure even more based on greed.  We need help from each other to get back the water that we have the right to navigate and the ability to fish ‘in common with’ the tribe that is neighboring us.

How can you help?  You can email the following people to get heat on the closure and have them reopen the fishing grounds that the Lummi tribe is unable to fish.  Here are some helpful emails;

  • Phil Anderson: director@dfw.wa.gov
  • Pat Pattillo: patrick.pattillo@dfw.wa.gov
  • Steven Thiesfeld: steven.thiesfeld@dfw.wa.gov
  • John Long: john.long@dfw.wa.gov

A simple email on how you are not happy with the closure, and how it needs to be re-opened because it discriminates against non-tribal members and goes against a court ruling that was recently put in place by the WA state courts.

This is a wonderful area to live in, and a great place to fish.  I’m sure everyone here wishes to boat and fish without the hassles of being threatened by the DFW and Lummi Fishery patrol.  And worse yet, this could set a very bad precedent for the future.

Here is information on the closure:

http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/nof_2012_summary.pdf

“WDFW and the Lummi Tribe met several times during March and April to address a number of fishery issues in the Bellingham Bay area adjacent to the Lummi Tribal reservation.  Concerns for non-Indian trespassing on the reservation while engaged in sport or commercial salmon fishing, crabbing, and even duck hunting, have been expressed by the Lummi Tribe in recent negotiations during the annual North of Falcon process.  Some of those activities are confirmed to be legitimate, and some are issues needing enforcement attention.  As a result of our discussions, WDFW has agreed to restrict non-Indian salmon fishing inside Lummi Bay and to define an area closed to fishing or hunting adjacent to the Lummi Tribal reservation boundary inside Bellingham Bay.  These restrictions will enable state enforcement of closed areas and, hopefully, will lead to more productive and cooperative management of fisheries in the region between WDFW and the Tribe.”

As you can see, state water is easy to enforce, because if you are on a boat you are not trespassing.  The closure is based on greed and will only allow the tribe to push further to get more enforcements in place.

Please help.

One response to “Save our water and fishing rights!

  1. Update – Today Rob McKenna visited my workplace and I was able to get his ear for a few moments. I gathered his information and requested more information on who polices the departments in the state. Hopefully I will have more information in the coming weeks and will be able to reach out and put pressure on the WDFW to give back Lummi Bay to those of us at Sandy Point.

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