Philip Starr Administration Building
39015-A 172nd Ave SE
Auburn, WA 98092
Mon 8:00am - 5:00pm
Tue 8:00am - 5:00pm
Wed 8:00am - 5:00pm
Thu 8:00am - 5:00pm
Fri 8:00am - 5:00pm
Harvest Management (HM) program personnel (scientists and technicians) work to provide the greatest possible annual harvest opportunity for Muckleshoot Indian Tribe (MIT) fishers. Staff scientists take part in annual salmon and shellfish management planning processes and provide technical support to the Muckleshoot Fish Commission (MFC) as Commission members negotiate fishing seasons for the coming year.
As of December 2022, It is still too early to provide any solid predictions for the Tribe’s 2023 finfish fisheries. Technical teams from both the tribes and state are in the beginning stages of developing forecasts for next year’s salmon returns. Co-manager hatchery releases of chinook, coho, and chum have been high for several years, which may contribute to another successful fishing season. Pre-season planning negotiations will begin in early January and conclude by mid-April. The Tribe’s 2023 finfish season will start off in mid-May with the Ceremonial & Subsistence (C&S) White River spring chinook net fishery. The shellfish (shrimp, crab and oysters) harvest for 2023 is projected to remain stable without any major survival issues. As a reminder for fishers: the annual fishers’ meeting is scheduled for the first Monday in June.
Research and monitoring efforts will continue in 2023 across a range of important projects. In January, the MIT Fisheries technical team will again work cooperatively with the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) to implement the mark selective sport test fishery in Marine Fishery Area 10, the portion of Puget sound immediately outside Elliott Bay. In mid-January three juvenile out-migration traps will again be installed in Newaukum and Crisp Creeks (tributaries to the Green River), and in Greenwater River (a tributary to the upper White River). At the beginning of April, the Warm Water Test Fishery (WWTF) will begin again in Lake Washington and will end in early June. The third year of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funded mark-recapture study of invasive predator fish in Lake Sammamish will begin in late March and end in late June. The third year of the BLAST program, which transports sockeye from the Ballard Locks directly to the Cedark River Hatchery, will begin in early June at the Ballard Locks, along with the nineteenth season of the sockeye bio-sampling program which collects tissue samples and size data. Adult spawning surveys and out-planting will start in early September.
In cooperation with local agencies and private entities, staff implemented vessel coordination agreements to minimize conflicts on the water between tribal fisher and commercial vessels and cargo. There were 354 net moves, 5 displacements and 10 net damage claims. Additionally, coordination staff assisted fishers with net damage claims.
This year’s White River/Puyallup River ceremonial and subsistence (C&S) spring chinook net fishery started on May 20th.The Tribe fished five (5) consecutive extended weekends up to June 20th.
Unfortunately, the fishery was cut short as a conservation measure in response to in-season injuries and mortalities of spring chinook at the new Fish Passage Facility (FPF). During those five weeks’ Tribal fishers harvested 142 chinook in the net fishery which was less than expected. The Tribe also conducted a hook and line during which tribal fishers caught 6 adults and 4 jacks.
The annual chinook test fishery in inner Elliott Bay was scheduled for July 20th, 27th, and August 3rd, however, the first night was canceled due to a funeral. The total catch from the remaining two nights of test fishing was 174 fish which met the criteria for a full fleet commercial fishery.
Table 1. Results from the Tribe’s chinook commercial, ceremonial & subsistence (C&S) and incidental chinook caught during coho and chum fisheries. Total Chinook caught from all combined fisheries was 12,345.
Coho fisheries occurred in Elliott Bay, Duwamish Green River, Puyallup/White rivers, Lake Washington Ship Canal/Lake Union and North Lake Washington. All these areas had respectable catches compared to the most recent years.
Table 2. Summary of the final coho catches in each area. Total coho caught from all combined fisheries was 51,348.
The chum fishery was the last commercial salmon fishery of the season with fishers finishing off the season with a record harvest in both Elliott Bay and Duwamish River along with a combined record harvest. For more information on the chum season please read the special report.
Table 3. Summary of the final chum catches in each area Total chum caught from all combined fisheries was 81,661.
This pie chart shows the total number of pounds harvested in all combined fisheries. Total salmon (chinook, coho, chum, sockeye and steelhead) harvested by Tribal members in 2022 from all combined fisheries (including hook & line) was 145,682.
In 2022, Tribal members participated in successful Dungeness crab and Spot prawn fisheries in Elliott Bay. MIT crabbers harvested over 2,200lbs of Dungeness crab in the Elliott Bay fishery.
The Tribe’s Shellfish Aquaculture Project on Vashon Island continues to be a big success: about 6,700 healthy oysters were harvested for consumption by Tribal members. Most of the harvest was taken by the Shellfish Team, who were able to provide these oysters to the Seniors’ Kitchen for luncheon service and for distribution to Tribal Elders. Oysters were also provided (by request) to numerous other Tribal events and Memorials throughout the year. Additionally, Tribal members visited the Vashon tidelands and harvested their own oysters by Oyster Permit, which are provided and managed by the Fisheries Division.
In the 2022 shrimp fishery in Elliott Bay, ten commercial shrimpers harvested a total of 2,716 lbs and two subsistence fishers harvested 410 lbs, for a total harvest of 3,126 lbs – the highest total since MIT joined the shrimp fishery in 2000.
Rotary screw traps for juvenile salmon were operated on Newaukum Creek and the Greenwater River from January into July to helpestimate abundance, productivity, and egg-to-fry survival of juvenile Chinook, coho, chum, and steelhead migrating to the ocean. This was the 4th year MIT Fisheries scientists have operated a juvenile fish trap on the Greenwater River and the 9th year on Newaukum Creek.
Starting on April 12th, Tribal fishers and MIT fisheries scientists engaged in the seventh year of the Warm Water Test Fishery in Lake Washington. Fishing continued until May 27th.Over 3,700 fish of 17 species were collected, including 1,100 invasive bass, and 565 pikeminnow, both of which are known to prey on juvenile salmonids. Stomach samples were taken from 1,700 of these potential salmon predators. WDFW is now following MIT’s lead and doing their own predator removal gillnetting in Lake Washington.
The Tribe conducted the second year of a mark-recapture study via boat electrofishing to estimate native and invasive predatory fish abundance in Lake Sammamish. These two years of data were assessed with respect to several environmental indicators that show water temperature, sampling depth, and the number of docks are the most influential factors driving determining predator presence and abundance. These predators are known to consume juvenile salmonids, but until their population abundance and dynamics are understood, their impact on salmon abundance is unknown. This work will greatly aid us in making strategic management decisions for potential control of these populations, and ultimately, to maximize salmonid production. In addition, a second year of otolith collections from several predator species in Lake Washington was completed. Preliminary analysis for smallmouth bass suggests this invasive predator can live over 15 years and reaches a size where it is capable of consuming juvenile salmonids in as little as 2.5 years.
MIT fisheries in cooperation with WDFW combined forces on a test fishery that focuses on the Chinook mark-selective sport fisheries in marine areas 9, 10, and 11 in central Puget Sound. This test fishery data is used to quantify encounter rates (primarily Chinook), catch composition, mark status (adipose fin-clip), size (legal or sub-legal for Chinook), where on its body the fish was hooked, pinniped interactions, andfish health, all with the goal to better understand the impacts of mark-selective fisheries in Puget Sound on ESA-listed Chinook salmon. The winter test fishery started in January and concluded in March, and the summer test fishery started in July and ran through August. The summer test fishery was extended into the coho sport fishery season, (September through November) to continue collecting data on encounters.
Lake Washington sockeye continue to have low returns. Unfortunately, there are major sockeye survival problems on both ends of their life cycle. The first big problem is when the juveniles (fry) enter the lake where they encounter many invasive species that inflict high predation rates. The second survival issue is with returning adults that have been experiencing very high prespawning mortality in the lake, pre-spawning mortality on the spawning grounds, and in the Cedar River Sockeye Hatchery raceways. To combat the adult survival issue beginning in 2021, MIT Fisheries focused specifically on the problem of pre-spawning mortality by initiating the Ballard Locks Adult Sockeye Transfer (BLAST) program, with help from WDFW. The program seeks to minimize pre-spawning mortality by taking sockeye directly from the Locks fish ladder to the Landsburg sockeye hatchery in the upper Cedar River watershed. This year’s transfer was completed July 11, 2022 with 902 adult sockeye from the Ballard Locks’ fish ladder successfully transferred to new circular ponds at the hatchery. This is three times more sockeye than were transferred in 2021. The sockeye were held between 13 and 23 weeks before maturation and spawning and approximately 1.3 million eggs were harvested from these fish alone. Pre-spawning mortality was extremely low (~2.7%) for BLAST program sockeye compared to sockeye that migrated on their own to the Cedar River Hatchery and which were held in the old raceways (~40%). Approximately 27% of the total hatchery production this year came from BLAST fish.
Table 4. Shows the final numbers (transferred from the locks ladder, total numbers spawned, pre-spawn mortalities numbers & %’s and other incidental mortalities (i.e. fish jumping out of the circulars)
Annual spawning ground surveys were conducted in conjunction with WDFW on the Cedar River and Issaquah and Bear/Cottage creeks in the Lake Washington basin, on the Green River, and in the Greenwater River in the upper White River watershed. Chinook and sockeye surveys were conducted weekly from late August into mid-November. Steelhead surveys took place on the Green River from March to June.
Table 5. Shows the final adult (chinook, sockeye and steelhead) escapement numbers from the Cedar River, Lake Washington tributaries, Green River and Greenwater River a tributary in the upper White River.
Fisheries staff planted118 Chinook back into the Green River main-stem, 1,395 chum salmon adults into Newaukum Creek (a tributary to the Green River), and 636 coho into Coal Creek in the Lake Washington system near Bellevue.
Table 6. Shows the final numbers of adult chinook, coho and chum that were out-planted in both Green river main-stem, Newaukum creek and Coal Creek a tributary in the Lake Washington basin.