Do indigenous people have the right to fish out of season by this Central New York hatchery? The DEC doesn't think so...

It's important to remember there are always two sides to every story. Both the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and Native American's have opposing views on the matter, but first let's learn the facts.

Walleye in hand

What Happened?

On April 2nd, two people who identified themselves as Native American were spear fishing on Scriba Creek. Not only were they fishing out of season, but they were also in the waters a few yards from the Oneida Fish Hatchery. DEC Environmental Conservation Officers arrived, issuing tickets and confiscating the fish from the men.

On April 5th, an even bigger group came to the same fishing spot. This time six to seven were in the water, while around the same number were up on the road. DEC ECO's showed up this time with support from State Troopers. After calling Albany, the fisherman were left alone and not issued a ticket.

Master angler fishing in all seasons
Amy J Kamps

Environmental Impact

Both the DEC and the Oneida Lake Association are concerned with this practice. The OLA Board says this is an important time of the season for new walleye to be spawning. Someone coming and endlessly killing the fish, especially this close to the hatchery, poses a "threat to the health and welfare of the species".

Portrait of huge walleye in angler hand

The Native American's Side

It is considered common knowledge that indigenous tribes are exempt to regular fishing seasons in New York State. Most don't recognize state fishing laws at all, but there is one problem. It is still the law.

Though indigenous people do have exceptions to many state laws, even when it comes to fishing, there are still limitations. Governor Kathy Hochul vetoed a bill recently that would have expanded fishing and hunting access on state land.

A young caucasian fisherman proudly holds up his first walleye of the day

What's Happening Now?

The DEC has now placed barricades to prohibit anyone from parking around the Oneida Fish Hatchery. This includes around 30 concrete barricades, placed at the front of the hatchery by Route 49, by the hatchery's maintenance facility and at the roadside parking lot near the county trail.

The Oneida Lake Association is assuring the situation is being handled by the DEC at a higher level. They will continue working to find an accommodation for both the fishery and the indigenous fishers of the region.

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