The Lummi People fished at many locations in the San Juan
Islands, locations that were allocated to families based on
rank and inheritance. Before Europeans settled in the area
the Lummis used a unique fishing method called reef-netting.
A net was suspended between canoes in the path of the salmon
on their way to spawning grounds. Artificial reefs were created
to guide the fish into the net. These reefs were made from
cedar bark and nettle fibers
with beach grass woven in. When the fish swam in, the scoop
shaped net was raised and the fish were trapped.
way of fishing all but ceased after the canneries arrived
and fish traps were installed to harvest large volumes of
salmon, so many salmon in fact, that the canneries often could
not process all of the catch. The Carlisle Packing Company
on Legoe Bay occupied several hundred acres and more than
200 people worked there.
spin-off industry developed to process Lummi Island's cannery
waste - fish fertilizer.
marked the end of the fish traps when they were outlawed.
At this time the reef-net fishing was re-established and still
can be seen off the shores of Lummi Island. Albeit a modernized
version, but essentially the same method is employed today.
Now-a-days the fish are caught and stored live in the holding
net under the barge until the buyers come out to the barge
to purchase the catch.
For many years salmon
were also caught with gillnets. But since the institution
of government fishing limits, only a few gillnet operations
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