United States v. Washington

United States v. Washington is the on-going federal court proceeding that enforces and implements reserved tribal treaty fishing rights with regard to salmon and steelhead returning to western Washington. Five treaties between the United States and various Washington tribes (1854 through 1856) describe the reserved tribal fishing rights in common with citizens of the territory. These are the treaties of Medicine Creek, Quinault, Neah Bay, Point Elliott, and Point-No-Point.

Findings of United States v. Washington (384 F. Supp. 312), commonly referred to as the Boldt Decision, clarified these treaties with regard to allocation of salmon harvests between tribal and non-tribal fishers, holding that tribes are entitled to a 50-percent share of the harvestable run of fish in their “usual and accustomed areas”. Hoh v. Baldridge (522 F. Supp. 683), a subsequent case, established the principle that fishery management plans must take into account returns to individual streams if the fisheries might affect an individual tribe, thus establishing another key management principle of river-by-river or run-by-run management. These decisions added to the findings in United States v. Oregon, which held that the state is limited in its power to regulate treaty Indian fisheries.

Salmon and steelhead fisheries in the Puget Sound and on the Washington coast (North of Grays Harbor, inclusive) are jointly managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Puget Sound treaty tribes (the co-managers) under the continuing jurisdiction of United States v. Washington. Each year, the fisheries within these areas are planned during the North of Falcon process.


2018 NEPA Process -- Puget Sound harvest management