Skokomish tribal officials recently recognized a geoduck high-grading problem in Mason County, but Dave Herrera, Skokomish fisheries manager, said the tribe itself is not to blame for the discarded clams.State officials said Skokomish members discarded 35 tons of geoducks on a beach near Seabeck. They said the dumping was an attempt by members to harvest the best available geoducks without exceeding a quota on tribal harvesting - a practice known as high-grading.But Herrera said although members were involved, the dumping was not condoned by the Skokomish Tribe.We didn't do it - it wasn't sanctioned by the tribe, Herrera said. It involved a handful of tribal members. It shouldn't reflect on the majority of tribal members who follow the law, or the tribe.The Skokomish tribal government will process the high-grading incident within the tribe. We're a government like any other government. There is a handful of people who act outside the law. We recognize that was a problem; now, it's up to us to fix that problem. And that's what we'll do, Herrera said. The tribal penalty could cost the clam harvesters anywhere from a fine to the suspension of their fishing license.The tribe disagrees with the state's 35-ton assessment and is currently involved in discussions to find a quantity both can agree on. Once that is agreed, Herrera said, the tribe will make a pay-back to the resource by reducing future harvests.Doug Williams, geoduck program manager for the Department of Natural Resources, said the tribe will just have to reduce its harvest next year. As long as we account for it, it shouldn't have any effect, he said.As far as the waste left in the water, Williams said predators will eat the meat of the clams within 48 hours. The shell that's left will decompose into the sand, leaving a negligible environmental impact.The Skokomish responded to a similar high-grading incident last year, Herrera said. Because the case is still under investigation, he wouldn't comment on the details, but said Skokomish fisheries increased underwater monitoring of that fishery so fisheries management could check day to day what was going on.Geoducks, which can grow to between three and five pounds, are valued for their necks: the highest grades have long, white necks, while lower grades have browner, shorter necks. Although lower grades will fetch something, clamming quotas and harvest limitations compel divers to keep only the best.Buyers determine the market for geoducks, which presents a problem for divers, Herrera said. The geoduck market is pretty small. It's a large industry controlled by a couple of buyers. (Tribal fishers) are all selling to the same buyers, he said.The total tribal harvest on Hood Canal last year was 546,000 pounds, Herrera said. An inter-tribal agreement allows five tribes to harvest the area until the quota is met. Herrera said high-grading is a problem if it's not accounted for because it inflates the catch, creating a situation where harvesters are taking more than the annual quota.We try to set the number of any creatures we harvest so it doesn't threaten the sustainability of the resource, he said. Brad Nelson of the Geoduck Harvesters Association said from his boat in Tacoma that there are two forms of high-grading; one is legal, one is not.Legal high-grading involves harvesting in shallower areas where higher-quality geoducks dig in. Because the better geoducks prefer shallower areas, the majority of the catch is naturally higher grade.Once those areas have been depleted, some divers go farther away, where lower-quality geoducks live. In a competitive marketplace, where many are trying to profit, there is an incentive to keep the good ones and dump the bad ones overboard to keep the weight low and make the most money.Ultimately, the geoduck population is suffering, Nelson said. We're wiping out this resource, he said. Geoducks are fairly sedentary creatures. Males and females broadcast spawn and hundreds of thousands of larvae will hatch into the ocean. The tiny geoduck larvae float around as prey until they grow heavy enough to settle onto the ocean floor. Even once they settle and begin to dig into the sand, they are still in danger: crabs will dig up the surface of the ocean floor and gobble them up if they find them. Eventually - and, Nelson said, it takes a long time - they dig in deep enough to begin their lifelong process of filtering water.Geoducks can live to 150 years; however, shortly after they dig into their sandy home, they outgrow their muscular foot and lose their ability to dig. They reach sexual maturity between three and five years, and somewhere between 10 and 15 years, they reach maturity. They will stay in their spot for the duration of their lives, sucking plankton-peppered water in through one valve and expelling clean water out the other.The depletion of geoduck populations goes unnoticed, Nelson said, because clam bed damage is underwater. Nevertheless, the damage is being done. We're not maintaining a consistant biomass, he said." "/> Skokomish tribal officials recently recognized a geoduck high-grading problem in Mason County, but Dave Herrera, Skokomish fisheries manager, said the tribe itself is not to blame for the discarded clams.State officials said Skokomish members discarded 35 tons of geoducks on a beach near Seabeck. They said the dumping was an attempt by members to harvest the best available geoducks without exceeding a quota on tribal harvesting - a practice known as high-grading.But Herrera said although members were involved, the dumping was not condoned by the Skokomish Tribe.We didn't do it - it wasn't sanctioned by the tribe, Herrera said. It involved a handful of tribal members. It shouldn't reflect on the majority of tribal members who follow the law, or the tribe.The Skokomish tribal government will process the high-grading incident within the tribe. We're a government like any other government. There is a handful of people who act outside the law. We recognize that was a problem; now, it's up to us to fix that problem. And that's what we'll do, Herrera said. The tribal penalty could cost the clam harvesters anywhere from a fine to the suspension of their fishing license.The tribe disagrees with the state's 35-ton assessment and is currently involved in discussions to find a quantity both can agree on. Once that is agreed, Herrera said, the tribe will make a pay-back to the resource by reducing future harvests.Doug Williams, geoduck program manager for the Department of Natural Resources, said the tribe will just have to reduce its harvest next year. As long as we account for it, it shouldn't have any effect, he said.As far as the waste left in the water, Williams said predators will eat the meat of the clams within 48 hours. The shell that's left will decompose into the sand, leaving a negligible environmental impact.The Skokomish responded to a similar high-grading incident last year, Herrera said. Because the case is still under investigation, he wouldn't comment on the details, but said Skokomish fisheries increased underwater monitoring of that fishery so fisheries management could check day to day what was going on.Geoducks, which can grow to between three and five pounds, are valued for their necks: the highest grades have long, white necks, while lower grades have browner, shorter necks. Although lower grades will fetch something, clamming quotas and harvest limitations compel divers to keep only the best.Buyers determine the market for geoducks, which presents a problem for divers, Herrera said. The geoduck market is pretty small. It's a large industry controlled by a couple of buyers. (Tribal fishers) are all selling to the same buyers, he said.The total tribal harvest on Hood Canal last year was 546,000 pounds, Herrera said. An inter-tribal agreement allows five tribes to harvest the area until the quota is met. Herrera said high-grading is a problem if it's not accounted for because it inflates the catch, creating a situation where harvesters are taking more than the annual quota.We try to set the number of any creatures we harvest so it doesn't threaten the sustainability of the resource, he said. Brad Nelson of the Geoduck Harvesters Association said from his boat in Tacoma that there are two forms of high-grading; one is legal, one is not.Legal high-grading involves harvesting in shallower areas where higher-quality geoducks dig in. Because the better geoducks prefer shallower areas, the majority of the catch is naturally higher grade.Once those areas have been depleted, some divers go farther away, where lower-quality geoducks live. In a competitive marketplace, where many are trying to profit, there is an incentive to keep the good ones and dump the bad ones overboard to keep the weight low and make the most money.Ultimately, the geoduck population is suffering, Nelson said. We're wiping out this resource, he said. Geoducks are fairly sedentary creatures. Males and females broadcast spawn and hundreds of thousands of larvae will hatch into the ocean. The tiny geoduck larvae float around as prey until they grow heavy enough to settle onto the ocean floor. Even once they settle and begin to dig into the sand, they are still in danger: crabs will dig up the surface of the ocean floor and gobble them up if they find them. Eventually - and, Nelson said, it takes a long time - they dig in deep enough to begin their lifelong process of filtering water.Geoducks can live to 150 years; however, shortly after they dig into their sandy home, they outgrow their muscular foot and lose their ability to dig. They reach sexual maturity between three and five years, and somewhere between 10 and 15 years, they reach maturity. They will stay in their spot for the duration of their lives, sucking plankton-peppered water in through one valve and expelling clean water out the other.The depletion of geoduck populations goes unnoticed, Nelson said, because clam bed damage is underwater. Nevertheless, the damage is being done. We're not maintaining a consistant biomass, he said."">Skokomish tribal officials recently recognized a geoduck high-grading problem in Mason County, but Dave Herrera, Skokomish fisheries manager, said the tribe itself is not to blame for the discarded clams.State officials said Skokomish members discarded 35 tons of geoducks on a beach near Seabeck. They said the dumping was an attempt by members to harvest the best available geoducks without exceeding a quota on tribal harvesting - a practice known as high-grading.But Herrera said although members were involved, the dumping was not condoned by the Skokomish Tribe.We didn't do it - it wasn't sanctioned by the tribe, Herrera said. It involved a handful of tribal members. It shouldn't reflect on the majority of tribal members who follow the law, or the tribe.The Skokomish tribal government will process the high-grading incident within the tribe. We're a government like any other government. There is a handful of people who act outside the law. We recognize that was a problem; now, it's up to us to fix that problem. And that's what we'll do, Herrera said. The tribal penalty could cost the clam harvesters anywhere from a fine to the suspension of their fishing license.The tribe disagrees with the state's 35-ton assessment and is currently involved in discussions to find a quantity both can agree on. Once that is agreed, Herrera said, the tribe will make a pay-back to the resource by reducing future harvests.Doug Williams, geoduck program manager for the Department of Natural Resources, said the tribe will just have to reduce its harvest next year. As long as we account for it, it shouldn't have any effect, he said.As far as the waste left in the water, Williams said predators will eat the meat of the clams within 48 hours. The shell that's left will decompose into the sand, leaving a negligible environmental impact.The Skokomish responded to a similar high-grading incident last year, Herrera said. Because the case is still under investigation, he wouldn't comment on the details, but said Skokomish fisheries increased underwater monitoring of that fishery so fisheries management could check day to day what was going on.Geoducks, which can grow to between three and five pounds, are valued for their necks: the highest grades have long, white necks, while lower grades have browner, shorter necks. Although lower grades will fetch something, clamming quotas and harvest limitations compel divers to keep only the best.Buyers determine the market for geoducks, which presents a problem for divers, Herrera said. The geoduck market is pretty small. It's a large industry controlled by a couple of buyers. (Tribal fishers) are all selling to the same buyers, he said.The total tribal harvest on Hood Canal last year was 546,000 pounds, Herrera said. An inter-tribal agreement allows five tribes to harvest the area until the quota is met. Herrera said high-grading is a problem if it's not accounted for because it inflates the catch, creating a situation where harvesters are taking more than the annual quota.We try to set the number of any creatures we harvest so it doesn't threaten the sustainability of the resource, he said. Brad Nelson of the Geoduck Harvesters Association said from his boat in Tacoma that there are two forms of high-grading; one is legal, one is not.Legal high-grading involves harvesting in shallower areas where higher-quality geoducks dig in. Because the better geoducks prefer shallower areas, the majority of the catch is naturally higher grade.Once those areas have been depleted, some divers go farther away, where lower-quality geoducks live. In a competitive marketplace, where many are trying to profit, there is an incentive to keep the good ones and dump the bad ones overboard to keep the weight low and make the most money.Ultimately, the geoduck population is suffering, Nelson said. We're wiping out this resource, he said. Geoducks are fairly sedentary creatures. Males and females broadcast spawn and hundreds of thousands of larvae will hatch into the ocean. The tiny geoduck larvae float around as prey until they grow heavy enough to settle onto the ocean floor. Even once they settle and begin to dig into the sand, they are still in danger: crabs will dig up the surface of the ocean floor and gobble them up if they find them. Eventually - and, Nelson said, it takes a long time - they dig in deep enough to begin their lifelong process of filtering water.Geoducks can live to 150 years; however, shortly after they dig into their sandy home, they outgrow their muscular foot and lose their ability to dig. They reach sexual maturity between three and five years, and somewhere between 10 and 15 years, they reach maturity. They will stay in their spot for the duration of their lives, sucking plankton-peppered water in through one valve and expelling clean water out the other.The depletion of geoduck populations goes unnoticed, Nelson said, because clam bed damage is underwater. Nevertheless, the damage is being done. We're not maintaining a consistant biomass, he said." "/> Mason County tribe vows to punish geoduck dumpers - Central Kitsap Reporter
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Mason County tribe vows to punish geoduck dumpers

">Skokomish tribal officials recently recognized a geoduck high-grading problem in Mason County, but Dave Herrera, Skokomish fisheries manager, said the tribe itself is not to blame for the discarded clams.State officials said Skokomish members discarded 35 tons of geoducks on a beach near Seabeck. They said the dumping was an attempt by members to harvest the best available geoducks without exceeding a quota on tribal harvesting - a practice known as high-grading.But Herrera said although members were involved, the dumping was not condoned by the Skokomish Tribe.We didn't do it - it wasn't sanctioned by the tribe, Herrera said. It involved a handful of tribal members. It shouldn't reflect on the majority of tribal members who follow the law, or the tribe.The Skokomish tribal government will process the high-grading incident within the tribe. We're a government like any other government. There is a handful of people who act outside the law. We recognize that was a problem; now, it's up to us to fix that problem. And that's what we'll do, Herrera said. The tribal penalty could cost the clam harvesters anywhere from a fine to the suspension of their fishing license.The tribe disagrees with the state's 35-ton assessment and is currently involved in discussions to find a quantity both can agree on. Once that is agreed, Herrera said, the tribe will make a pay-back to the resource by reducing future harvests.Doug Williams, geoduck program manager for the Department of Natural Resources, said the tribe will just have to reduce its harvest next year. As long as we account for it, it shouldn't have any effect, he said.As far as the waste left in the water, Williams said predators will eat the meat of the clams within 48 hours. The shell that's left will decompose into the sand, leaving a negligible environmental impact.The Skokomish responded to a similar high-grading incident last year, Herrera said. Because the case is still under investigation, he wouldn't comment on the details, but said Skokomish fisheries increased underwater monitoring of that fishery so fisheries management could check day to day what was going on.Geoducks, which can grow to between three and five pounds, are valued for their necks: the highest grades have long, white necks, while lower grades have browner, shorter necks. Although lower grades will fetch something, clamming quotas and harvest limitations compel divers to keep only the best.Buyers determine the market for geoducks, which presents a problem for divers, Herrera said. The geoduck market is pretty small. It's a large industry controlled by a couple of buyers. (Tribal fishers) are all selling to the same buyers, he said.The total tribal harvest on Hood Canal last year was 546,000 pounds, Herrera said. An inter-tribal agreement allows five tribes to harvest the area until the quota is met. Herrera said high-grading is a problem if it's not accounted for because it inflates the catch, creating a situation where harvesters are taking more than the annual quota.We try to set the number of any creatures we harvest so it doesn't threaten the sustainability of the resource, he said. Brad Nelson of the Geoduck Harvesters Association said from his boat in Tacoma that there are two forms of high-grading; one is legal, one is not.Legal high-grading involves harvesting in shallower areas where higher-quality geoducks dig in. Because the better geoducks prefer shallower areas, the majority of the catch is naturally higher grade.Once those areas have been depleted, some divers go farther away, where lower-quality geoducks live. In a competitive marketplace, where many are trying to profit, there is an incentive to keep the good ones and dump the bad ones overboard to keep the weight low and make the most money.Ultimately, the geoduck population is suffering, Nelson said. We're wiping out this resource, he said. Geoducks are fairly sedentary creatures. Males and females broadcast spawn and hundreds of thousands of larvae will hatch into the ocean. The tiny geoduck larvae float around as prey until they grow heavy enough to settle onto the ocean floor. Even once they settle and begin to dig into the sand, they are still in danger: crabs will dig up the surface of the ocean floor and gobble them up if they find them. Eventually - and, Nelson said, it takes a long time - they dig in deep enough to begin their lifelong process of filtering water.Geoducks can live to 150 years; however, shortly after they dig into their sandy home, they outgrow their muscular foot and lose their ability to dig. They reach sexual maturity between three and five years, and somewhere between 10 and 15 years, they reach maturity. They will stay in their spot for the duration of their lives, sucking plankton-peppered water in through one valve and expelling clean water out the other.The depletion of geoduck populations goes unnoticed, Nelson said, because clam bed damage is underwater. Nevertheless, the damage is being done. We're not maintaining a consistant biomass, he said."

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