Declining Marine Health Threatens Traditional Subsistence Fishing For Tribes

South Seattle Emerald

Melissa Watkinson recalls a time in the past when she could go crabbing at the end of the dock in the Puget Sound and catch a great deal of crab. She can’t do that anymore. These days, she has to go on a boat into deeper waters to catch any.

“My nieces won’t know what it’s like to be able to throw a pot at the end of a dock and catch some crab,” Watkinson said.

“Climate change and other changes in the ocean are having an impact on our ability to access some of these traditional foods for our family,” she continued.

Watkinson is a queer Indigenous woman, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and descendant of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. She grew up in the Puget Sound, where she has family enrolled with the Upper Skagit Tribe. She used to live in Seattle but decided to move out to Bremerton with her partner because there were more places to harvest healthy shellfish on the Kitsap Peninsula.

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