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Safe Fishing During the COVID Pandemic

The region is still in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic and recent relaxing of lockdown rules have been put on hold in areas throughout the region due to a recent uptick in cases. With a commercial fishery opening this week, it is important to take precautions to avoid spreading the virus at the fishing access sites, bringing it to the river if travelling from the reservations, or bringing it back to the reservations from the river. Also, by taking precautions, the public perception of the safety of the fish offered for sale will be improved, as well.

Below are some guidelines and recommendations to keep safe and avoid the spread of COVID-19 on the river:

Personal Safety

  • Stay home if you are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19
  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer
  • Cover sneezes and coughs with your arm or a cloth, not your hand
  • Wear a mask when around others who are not in your immediate household
  • Don’t touch your face


  • Try to bring all supplies you need with you and fill your gas tank at home to minimize stops at shops to minimize exposure to others
  • Keep a 6-foot minimum distance between boats and when parking or launching your vessel
  • Only one group at fish cleaning stations at a time. Wait until the previous group is finished to use a station, even if one side is not being used
  • When you return home, put your clothing directly in the wash and take a cleansing shower or bath, especially if you have interacted with others outside your immediate household. Don’t forget to disinfect your rig and tote, too

Selling Directly to the Public

  • Keep masked when dealing with customers
  • Use hand sanitizer regularly and between customers
  • Maintain a six-foot distance when talking to customers
  • Create a touchless protocol to get fish to your customer. For example, placing the fish on a table or tailgate and stepping away for the customer to get it.
  • If you have a smart phone, consider using a mobile payment system like Venmo, Cash App, PayPal, or Square to create a touchless transaction system.
  • Cash is a potential spread vector. If you do accept cash, use hand sanitizer after handling the money.
  • Offer hand sanitizer for customers
  • Encourage customers to maintain 6-foot distance from each other if a line develops.

Selling to Wholesale Dealers

  • Wholesale dealers and processors may change from their normal practices to address COVID risks. Keep in contact with your buyers for any updates on their plans and procedures. Expect to see modified procedures such as limits on the number of people in the buying area, an emphasis on sanitizing totes, and a touchless transaction process. If there is a line, maintain 6-foot distance when waiting your turn at wholesale buyer locations.
  • Keep masked when dealing with buyers.
  • Maintain a six-foot distance when talking to buyers.
  • Try to avoid lines and crowds at buying stations.
  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer regularly.

What Over-the-bank Customers Are Being Told to Encourage Safe Transactions

Over-the-bank sales are being announced on social media, print and radio, and other outlets. The general public is being told to expect fishers to have stricter protocols to ensure their own safety and the safety of the customers. They will be given the following guidance to use when buying from tribal fishers:

  • Wear a mask.
  • Use a credit card to pay if possible.
  • Learn more about the community you’re buying from. COVID doesn’t affect all groups and ages the same way and if you don’t feel it is a potential threat to you personally, it is a major threat to the tribal community, particularly tribal elders.
  • Thank you for supporting tribal fishers by enjoying Indian-caught salmon, but also please support them by helping keep COVID from spreading into our vulnerable population.

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