The Lummi Nation and the Port of Bellingham have reached an agreement that could lead to improvements for the tribal commercial fishing industry and needed repairs for the port’s waterfront properties.
The agreement was approved by the Port of Bellingham commissioners and the Lummi Indian Business Council on Tuesday. The agreement addresses several issues, but here are some of the most significant:
▪ The port agrees to provide a credit of $120,000 for Lummi Nation fishing vessels in Squalicum and Blaine harbor marinas for moorage each year for as long as the port owns those marinas. It will also forgive up to $220,000 in past due charges incurred by Lummi fishermen.
▪ The port will also grant free access and use of its boat launch facilities to the Lummi fishermen.
▪ In addition, the port will allow the Lummi Nation to create salmon and shellfish enhancement facilities on mutually agreed upon property.
▪ In return, the Lummi Nation will withdraw objections to existing port permit applications with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It will also not oppose future permits related to repair and maintenance that utilize historical structures.
The permit applications Lummi will no longer object to include a wide range of projects. Those projects include shoreline repairs from storm damage, structural repairs to the Bellingham Shipping Terminal pier and bulkhead repairs in Blaine, Brian Gouran, director of environmental and planning services at the port, told The Bellingham Herald.
In a presentation to port commissioners prior to approving the agreement, Gouron said it is a major step forward in its relationship with the Lummi Nation. The negotiations were done in the context of acknowledging the historical structural impacts on the Lummi’s fishing rights while trying to modernize existing structures.
All three port commissioners were in favor of the agreement, with each noting that it was no easy fix to get to this point. Commissioner Michael Shepard said in the meeting that working with the Lummi commercial fleet was a positive development.
“It’s a big presence and a sign of good things to come,” Shepard said in the meeting, referring to the Lummi fishing fleet.
Lummi Indian Business Council Chief of Staff Tony Hillaire did not return requests for comment.