Protest continues over salmon fishing

Protests over salmon fishing continued Thursday -- this time outside government wildlife offices in Olympia.

LACEY, Wash. -- Sports fishermen are frustrated that certain tribal fisheries are allowed to fish while they've had to park their boats.

The economic impact of a canceled salmon season could net huge losses. Puget Sound's non-tribal recreational and commercial fishing generates about $100 million in revenue each year.

Standing next to a hundred older men holding signs is a 10-year-old who drew her own.

"Fair fisheries for our future," the sign reads.

McKenna Kesling's dad is a charter boat captain. She's his deck boss, but hasn't bossed anyone in a while.

"It's not very fun,” Kesling said. “I’m a little worried sometimes."

For the first time in 30 years, state and tribal fishery co-managers can't agree on salmon season rules. That means fishing is closed in some of Puget Sound's most popular areas.

"This is an extremely frustrating situation for everybody," said NOAA spokesman Michael Milstein

Milstein knows everyone's looking his way and at federal officials now tasked with permitting the tribes and the state separately.

"We're going to have a very difficult time okaying a proposal when they still have not agreed on how to share the catch," Milstein said.

It could take months, longer than the entire summer season. But sports fishermen are most angry. Certain tribes have obtained emergency permits to fish anyway. And McKenna's not the only fisherman's kid disappointed by the gridlock.

"This co-management, it's something my dad worked hard on all of his life," said Willie Frank, the son of native fishing rights champion Billy Frank Jr. "These guys are putting a lot of energy towards negativity. We should be talking about habitat, how to restore our salmon to rivers and bays and lakes."

Frank says his dad worked tirelessly on sharing resources, and now the fish fighting is at its worst. Both sides focused on the future, but swimming upstream to get there.

"I hope we might be able to fish and go out on the water and catch something," Kesling said.

Copyright 2016 KING


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