MOUNT VERNON — The Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife has argued that a group run by a fishing guide has no legal standing after the group challenged the agency’s management of salmon in the region.
Fish Northwest, a group of non-Native American recreational anglers, argued that the department failed to meet the requirements set by a 1974 landmark judicial decision mandating that state officials co-manage fishing areas with treaty tribes, the Skagit Valley Herald reported.
The decision reaffirmed the rights of Washington’s Indian tribes to fish in traditional fishing locations.
“What we are asking for is not to overturn the Boldt decision; we just want the Boldt decision enforced,” said Brett Rosson, a fishing guide and president of the Fish Northwest group representing non-Native American anglers.
The group filed the motion Oct. 5 asking to intervene in the court case that began in 1971, saying it wants to ensure that anglers who don’t have fishing rights granted by treaties get a fair opportunity to fish for salmon and steelhead in state-owned waters.
Fish Northwest and its lawyers argue the decision means tribes with treaties get half the fish and nontreaty fishermen get half the fish of each fishery annually.
The motion to intervene says recreational anglers “are guaranteed the right to catch a minimum of 50% of the available harvest.”
The state department filed its own motion Oct. 26 opposing the group’s attempt to intervene, contending that it is the only agency in charge of managing the state portion of the resource.
The motion said the department is tasked with making sure resources are conserved and maintaining the economic well-being and stability of the commercial and recreational fishing industry.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife said last Thursday in a statement that the request by the group does not meet legal standards established by the court.