For the first time in 31 years, state and tribal fishery managers are at an unprecedented salmon stalemate. In the worst case scenario, recreational and commercial fishing may miss an entire season on Puget Sound.
Inside Angler's Choice in Shoreline, the glass showcases and wall hangers haven't been this empty since the day the store opened 22 years ago. It's not what Walt Rose dreamed when he opened his dream business, but he also never dreamed the fishing season would ever be this dire.
"It's killing us. We just can't afford it anymore," he said.
After a limited chinook season last year, coho returns are predicted at historic lows. It has tribal managers calling for recreational and commercial coho cuts. However, state officials didn't agree with the tribal plan and now a salmon stand-off is underway.
In a recent statement, NWIFC Chair Lorraine Loomis said: "In some cases tribes are giving up ceremonial and subsistence fisheries that are a cornerstone of our cultures. But this year is not about salmon harvest. It is about conserving the salmon for future generations."
Now, NOAA has to find a solution, but that could take many months. It means certain salmon seasons could close as early as May 1.
Rose isn't waiting to see what happens. He is selling what he can at major discounts. He also hopes to return a room full of hardware. The store's gone from a thousand dollars in daily sales to 25 bucks.
"Twenty-five dollars a day doesn't pay the rent. That doesn't even pay the light bill," he said.
Puget Sound's commercial and recreational fishing industry can net up to $100 million a year.
"Their question, 'what are we going to do?' I told them, ‘take up golf,’" Rose said.