Tribal PDA Exemption Bill Swapped For Fish, Shellfish Task Force

An interesting end this afternoon at the final Senate Natural Resources and Parks meeting before the cutoff to get legislation out of policy committees in Olympia.

A bill that would have exempted certain information about tribal fishermen from Public Disclosure Act requests was, well, gillnetted and then gutted by the committee chair in favor of his amendment to set up a task force to look at related issues instead.


Sen. John McCoy, a Democrat who represents the Tulalip Reservation and Everett area, sponsored SB 5761, which had a public hearing on Tuesday in which representatives of many tribes supported it.

An amendment McCoy offered today would have hidden information about a tribal fisherman’s name, signature, total harvest value per species and overall value, price per pound, and tribal tax information from disclosure requests.

McCoy said it would align state law with federal law.

Tribal fish tickets were the subject of a PDA filed with WDFW late last fall by a fisheries watchdog blog, which drew a lot of attention from both sides.

But Sen. Kirk Pearson, a Republican who represents the sprawling district east and northeast of McCoy’s, had other things in mind, and it gave him another chance to effect his displeasure at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

His amendment sets up a legislative task force to review fish and shellfish enforcement, recordkeeping and public records.

It calls for two members from both parties from both chambers of the legislature, a representative from the Governor’s Office and WDFW, as well as members from the sportfishing, commercial fishing and shellfishing communities, and six representatives from the tribes.

During discussion of their competing amendments, both senators spoke to unnamed groups that “didn’t have the intestinal fortitude” to speak against the bill publicly, but Pearson took umbrage at McCoy’s suggestion he’d been swayed by their backroom arguments.

“With this, I think we can do much more for state-tribal relations,” Pearson said, “and that was my intent all along.”

It received a do-pass recommendation from a majority of the five-member committee and goes to Rules.

In other NRP business, the committee gave Senate Joint Memorial 8009, which calls on Congress to provide the National Marine Fisheries Service with “sufficient resources” to move quickly on its reviews of Puget Sound salmon and steelhead hatchery and genetic management plans, a do-pass recommendation and sent it to Rules.

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