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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Treaty Rights - Pacific Lamprey (Lampetra tridentata)

willamette Falls
reduced flow of willamette falls on the willamette river

Willamette Falls on the Willamette River is usually a roaring tumult of water. A few days ago flash boards were installed to restrict the flow, and the falls became a shadow of their usual selves. Why? Tribes from the Columbia River Basin have treaty rights that allow them to harvest Pacific Lamprey from the falls. As I have mentioned previously, pacific lamprey are disappearing rapidly from the Columbia River Basin.

Lamprey are important to the tribes, and to the ecosystem of the river. However, for most of the past century lamprey have been classified as nuisance and trash fish. Yet lamprey have been part of the native american diet in the region for as long as anyone can remember. When they were plentiful, the high calorie fish was an important food for sustenance.

Now that they are disappearing, the tribes have been among the first to call attention to the significance of lamprey.

pacific lamprey (Lampetra tridentata)
umatilla tribe member and fisheries biologist aaron jackson holds a pacific lamprey (lampetra tridentata) while umatilla tribe member tony montoya walks behind him with collecting nets.

pacific lamprey (Lampetra tridentata)
pacific lamprey (Lampetra tridentata) collected from willamette falls

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Portland, Oregon, United States
Husband, Father, Student Of Natural History, Photographer