I rode my bike down to this little singletrack that leads to Issaquah creek mouth today on South Lake Sammamish and it’s nuts down there right now. The Muckleshoot tribe is doing their yearly salmon harvest. The whole south of Lake Sammamish is covered in gill nets they’re using to harvest the salmon – courtesy of the 1974 Boldt decision which gives them rights to half the salmon catch every year.
I chatted to one of the tribe members and they’re allowed to gill net from today until Friday (3 days). I have a bit of a mental block about gill netting because it’s highly illegal to do it in the ocean where I come from – but for different reasons. When a gill net breaks free from its anchor it becomes a death trap until it biodegrades. Fish swim into it, they die and become bait that attract more fish which swim into the net and the cycle continues for years. River and lake gill nets are different assuming they’re all recovered by their owners.
I did some research into how safe it is to eat the salmon from Lake Sammamish and it’s perfectly safe. According to the WA dept of Health you can eat more than 16 meals per month and still be OK – based on toxicology levels for PCB, DDT and Mercury. Here’s an extract:
Sockeye salmon had the lowest levels for all contaminants tested in this
study. All calculated meal limits were above EPA’s unrestricted level of 16 meals per month for
a 60 kg person (Appendix C, Table C9). Consumption rates were not calculated for chlordane
because of the low detection frequency (no samples were above the detection limit).
In case you’re curious, Safeway seems to be buying most of the salmon from the Muckleshoot tribe and you should see a few specials on Salmon at Safeway in the next couple of weeks. I’m probably not going to support them – there’s just something wrong about seeing the whole of Issaquah Creek mouth and the south lake covered in wall to wall gill nets.
I think I need to re-think my fish eating policy in general. I think the same thing is happening in the Ocean – I just don’t see it first hand.