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Nearly 100 people attended this year’s Columbia River Indian Fishers Expo in Hood River. The event, hosted by CRITFC, takes place every other year. It provides Indian fishers with information, resources, and training that will help them improve river safety, fish quality, and equipment maintenance. This year’s Expo was made possible by generous donations from the Nez Perce Land Buy-back Program, Yakama Nation Housing Authority, Columbia River Fishers Memorial Task Force, Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Pacific Seafood, Two Rivers Fish Company, and Foods in Season.

River safety was a central theme to the Fishers Expo. Two youth at the Corps of Engineers booth learned about the danger of cold water and how muscles cramp and seize up when exposed to it. They tried to pick up as many of the washers and bolts in the tray of ice water they could before the cold rendered their hands unable to grab them. The demonstration taught the importance of wearing a life jacket to stay afloat because even the strongest swimmer will eventually lose muscle control in the cold water of the Columbia River.

The Expo schedule was filled with workshops, panels, and presentations. A panel of farmers markets from Hood River and Bellingham, Washington discussed ways tribal fishers can access farmers markets and how to best prepare or process their catch for market sales. CRITFC harvest biologist Stuart Ellis gave a well-attended presentation on the fall fishery and what fishers can expect from it. A safety panel discussed ways to improve boating and river safety.

A variety of vendors, organizations, and specialists set up booths for the Expo trade show. This included vendors selling fishing gear, marketing products, and fish processing equipment. The Yakama Nation Housing Authority, Nez Perce Land Buy-back Program, and Columbia River Fishers Memorial provided attendees with information and materials. Instructors gave presentations on fiberglass repair, engine maintenance, and boat design. Attendees also got to tour the CRITFC Enforcement mobile response center trailer that was parked on site.

The Warm Springs Tribe sanitician taught a food handling class that gave attendees a food handling certification from the Warm Springs Tribe. Open to members of all four tribes, the Warm Springs Tribe sanitician taught a food handling class. After successfully passing a test at the end of the class, fishers received a Warm Springs Tribe-issued food handler’s certification card that is recognized by the State of Oregon for sales within the state.

CRITFC, the Yakama Nation Housing Authority, and the Native American Youth & Family Association coordinated to gather information about the housing situation and needs from attendees. The results of that questionnaire will be compiled to help determine ways to proceed to address the tribal river housing crisis.

The Expo concluded with fishers getting the opportunity to meet and share their concerns with tribal elected officials. Representatives from each tribe’s Fish & Wildlife Committee met with their constituents for question and answer sessions.

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