WHEN THE TIDE IS OUT, THE TABLE IS SET
The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe still relies heavily on ceremonial and subsistence harvest of clams and oysters. Harvest of clams, oysters, and crabs from the reservation tidelands helps make up a large percentage of the tribal diet for members who live on the reservation. Tribal members often harvest horse clam, geoduck, oysters, manila, and native littlenecks along with cockles for social and ceremonial use.
Tribal members have the right to harvest shellfish from public beaches such as state and county parks and private tidelands. Washington State is one of the few states in the nation where tidelands are privately owned. Additional harvest agreements have been reached with private landowners as well as with the U.S. Navy at Bangor and Indian Island.
Commercial fisheries occur with a monitor present to observe the fishery and record the catch. Port Gamble staff, with assistance from Jamestown and PNPTC, conduct population surveys on both public and private beaches to determine a beach specific total allowable catch for each species.
Subsistence clam and oyster harvest is monitored through a permit system with an associated catch-reporting requirement. Harvesters are required by regulation to have a valid subsistence harvest reporting card, along with tribal identification, in their possession during each subsistence harvest. All subsistence catch must be recorded by species on the card prior to leaving the beach.
Throughout the year, our department seeds clams and oysters on beaches within our U&A in order to enhance natural stock. It takes 3-4 years for seeded shellfish to reach harvestable levels.
Private Tidelands/Grower Information
Most states have kept tidelands in public hands so everyone can enjoy them. Washington State sold off the tidelands several decades after the signing of the 1850s treaties, which promised tribes half of the shellfish harvest. The treaty right to harvest shellfish was never extinguished; the sale of tidelands did not change the tribes’ treaty right.
The Tribe encourages the reporting of suspected poaching activities through the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife’s “Turn in a Poacher” (TIP) program by calling 877-933-9847 or texting 847411 (TIP411).