Tribal Fisherman Sentenced for Selling Sturgeon and Salmon.

A Klickitat County Superior Court judge has sentenced a Columbia River tribal fisherman to four months in jail and fined him $1,050 for illegally selling sturgeon and chinook salmon, concluding a case sparked by a tip to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Donnell Frank, 46, of Portland, Ore., pleaded guilty to three felony counts of unlawful fish trafficking and was sentenced March 19 by Judge Randall Krog.

WDFW Capt. Paul Golden, who heads the department’s statewide investigative unit, said the case began in the spring of 2015, when officers received a tip that one of Frank’s associates was illegally trafficking fish and wildlife.

WDFW Capt. Jeff Wickersham, who heads the department’s southwest Washington enforcement office, said the investigation revealed that Frank illegally sold two wild chinook salmon and five sturgeon, including one that was less than legal size.

Wickersham said Frank caught all of the fish during tribal subsistence fisheries, when commercial sales were prohibited. He said Frank made multiple sales of up to $500 per transaction during 2015 and 2016, primarily out of the back of his vehicle in Goldendale.

Columbia River fisheries are highly regulated to ensure conservation and resource sharing objectives are met, Wickersham said. Populations of harvestable-size sturgeon between Bonneville and McNary dams – the stretch of river where Frank caught the fish – have generally declined in recent years, and both hatchery and federally protected salmon and steelhead are present in that area.

“Salmon and sturgeon have significant economic and cultural importance to people and communities throughout the state,” Wickersham said. “Black-market activities like these tend to increase poaching and undermine efforts to recover endangered stocks.”

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

2 Responses to Tribal Fisherman Sentenced for Selling Sturgeon and Salmon.

  1. Liko Martin says:

    Illegal fishing and/or sales will get the ire of any responsible, real fisherman elevated for sure.
    I am not condoning what this guy did, but for me personally I have a hard time coming down hard on this guy for the simple reason that when you consider what “we” did to the Native Americans, a few illegal sturgeon don’t really mean much when put in context.

    • Pete Heley says:

      Sturgeon, more than any other freshwater fish, take a long time to replace and with the population increase in Stellar sea lions the Columbia River’s sturgeon population is very close to an all-time low. Sturgeon retention is not allowed anywhere in Oregon except for very restricted seasons on the Columbia and Willamette rivers.
      Pete Heley