The Quinault River Committee has announced an immediate closure of the 2019 commercial fishing season for Quinault River Blueback (sockeye) salmon.
They say that the closure is for conservation purposes and in response to a recent forecast by the Quinault Dept. of Fisheries for a second straight year of historically-low return of wild adult salmon to spawn in the Quinault River. This forecast follows a total return of spawning fish in 2018 of just 6,619 Blueback salmon, the third smallest on record.
They say that unlike many salmon populations in Washington State, Blueback salmon runs are almost entirely made up of wild fish.
The committee says that they link warm ocean temperatures in recent years to climate change driven by burning fossil fuels. They also cite the poaching of Blueback salmon as a contributing factor to their decline.
The QIN committee says that this closure will financially affect more than forty Quinault families who depend on Blueback for supplemental income and will harm Quinault Nation business enterprises for the second year in a row. Seasonal employment layoffs are almost certain. The Quinault River will be closed to fishing for the entire season which can last up to three months from April through June.
In addition to the closure, QIN’s Quinault River Committee is planning a fishermen’s meeting at the Quinault Community Center in Taholah at 5 p.m. on March 6, 2019 where Quinault Senior Scientist, Larry Gilbertson, will present the forecast report.
The Quinault River Committee is a board made up of Quinault fishermen appointed every year by the Quinault Business Committee.