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Why Reefnetting - Lummi Island Wild

Why Reefnetting

To promote the respectful and responsible harvesting of wild salmon and to protect the environment for future generations of fish and people.



Wild Pacific salmon reefnet fishing is an historical Pacific Northwest fishing method- the oldest known salmon net fishery in the world. Once practiced throughout the Salish Sea by its many indigenous peoples, reefnet fishing now exists only off Lummi Island, three of the other San Juans Islands, and as of 2016 off of Cherry Point through a cooperative effort between Lummi Nation tribal members and Lummi Island Wild.

Using only the flood tide, salmon follow along an artificial reef and over a small net suspended between two stationary platforms. When spotters, standing on 20- foot towers, see a school of salmon swim over the net, it is raised and the live fish are rolled over the side of the platform at the waterline, so that no harm is done to them, and into a netted live well open to the flowing seawater. There they are allowed to rest, releasing any lactic acid that may have built up in their flesh. It is then that any unwanted bycatch is released unharmed back into the sea. This is the major reason this fishery is so sustainable. The retained salmon are individually bled into an adjacent bleed well, and then into a tote filled with slush ice. The release of lactic acid and the lack of blood in the fish, results in the very highest quality salmon available in the world. The clean flavor is obvious when you taste it.

A passive fishing method, where electric motors powered by batteries work the net using no fossil fuels, reefnetting is considered one of the ten most sustainable fisheries in the world. Solar panels charge the batteries. Each reefnet gear is anchored to the sea floor in the same spot year after year, allowing for the smallest carbon footprint of any salmon fishery.

Lummi Island Wild - Info Graphic - Reefnetting 03 Lummi Island Wild - Info Graphic - Reefnetting 02 Lummi Island Wild - Info Graphic - Reefnetting 01

Reefnets stand out as the original and still the best in selective fishing.