A statement released this week regarding fishing on Lake Quinault:
Lake Quinault is to remain closed to all non-tribal fishing. The closure is effective until further notice, according to Quinault President Fawn Sharp.
“The Quinault Business Committee has made the decision in a unanimous action, effective immediately” said Sharp. “We cannot stand by and allow our sensitive aquatic ecosystems to continue to be diminished. This action has been taken to protect the lake and is an emergency measure to protect the health and safety of all our communities.”
“We are very concerned about water quality in the lake,” she said. “We are concerned that non-tribal septic systems from the surrounding homes and businesses may have resulted in a severe problem with untreated sewage and caused serious health concerns. We have detected hot spots of pollution in the lake and will be using this time to conduct thorough water quality studies and compliance with our regulations. Any fish taken by tribal members in the meantime will be carefully monitored,” she said. “We will not reopen the lake to non-Indian fishermen until we consider it safe and appropriate to do so.”
Another key reason is a low predicted forecast of sockeye salmon returns. “We closed our beaches for much the same reasons many years ago and have successfully brought them back to health with our management practices,” said Sharp.
“The incidents of illegal fishing by non-tribal fishermen have become the subject of numerous reports to our enforcement officers and staff. We have also received reports of unpermitted docks and other structures built illegally on the lake, and boat speeding has occasionally gotten out of hand.,” she said. At this time, we are faced with cuts to our budgets as a result of the federal sequestration and will not have the enforcement coverage at the lake to effectively patrol these illegal activities,” she said.
“The lake is on our reservation and belongs to the Tribe. It is our responsibility to manage this unique resource as part of our heritage, in a way that will benefit our people—today and in the future,” she said.
“So it is indeed a variety of reasons that lead us to this action. When we choose to lease our lands to proprietors, or to allow non-tribal members to share our resources, we do so with the expectation that they will abide by Quinault law, practice good stewardship and treat this beautiful lake with the respect it deserves.”