Pacific Northwest Reefnet fishing is a historical salmon fishing method.

 

REefnetting with lummi island wild

Lummi Island Wild Cooperative’s mission is to promote the respectful and responsible harvesting of wild salmon and to protect the environment for future generations of fish and people.

 

historical salmon fishing method

Wild Pacific Salmon reefnet fishing is a historical Pacific Northwest salmon fishing method. It has been practiced for centuries by Native American tribes using cedar canoes and cedar nets to catch wild sockeye and other wild Pacific salmon. Though the boats have gotten a little bigger and winches are used to pull in the nylon net, this wild Pacific salmon fishing method has remained fundamentally unchanged.

Fishermen still stand on towers, waiting to see a school of salmon swim along the reef and over the small net, suspended between two boats. When a school is observed, the net is quickly pulled up and the wild caught salmon are gently spilled into a netted live well to relax after the brief struggle.

The fish are then sorted and any unwanted species that may have been caught are harmlessly diverted back into the water. The remaining salmon are bled by cutting a gill and are then placed into another live well. An insulated tote of slush ice is waiting for the bled fish, where they will stay until the end of the day, when they are processed.

Reefnetting produces the highest quality wild pacific salmon available and they are handled with the utmost reverence and respect. Currently there are 11 reefnet license holders in the world, all operating in the San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest.


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Reefnetting can only be done on a flood tide, because the gear is set up to face the flood current when salmon are moving northward toward the Fraser River. By utilizing this flood tide the fishery can use stationary gear and wait for the tide to bring the harvest. Spotters must actually see the salmon swim over the nets. No fossil fuels are used to chase the wild salmon, and there is very little disruption of marine mammals, birds or the environment in terms of water, air, noise or motion.