Tribal Consultations

The relationship between the United States government and federally recognized tribes is one of government to government. As part of our partnerships with tribal governments, we work with tribes in a number of regions as well as nationally. This includes:

  • Informing tribes of upcoming issues.

  • Inviting tribal members to regional fishery management council meetings to meet with us.

  • Providing a forum for them to provide comments.

  • Sharing information about how to request a consultation or be involved in the council and decision making process.

  • Participating in informal and formal consultation meetings

  • Documenting the issues discussed in consultation

  • Addressing the concerns raised by the tribes to the degree possible given other laws that apply to a particular resource management decision.  

Consultations primarily encompass management agreements and fisheries, but can also include habitat conservation issues. For example, in Alaska, the primary issues that have been of interest to Alaska tribes are salmon bycatch, halibut subsistence, commercial fishing with trawl gear in the waters off western Alaska, and fisheries management in the Arctic.

When it comes to marine mammals, the process for tribal consultation usually takes the form of co-management agreements, which are governed by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Individual co-management agreements established between NOAA Fisheries and tribes incorporate the spirit and intent of co-management through close cooperation and communication between us and tribes, hunters, and subsistence users.

Alaska Native Consultations

In Alaska, we consult with tribes and Native corporations about federal actions that might affect tribal governments and their members. Executive Order 13175 sets the framework for regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with Alaska Native representatives in the development of policies, legislation, regulations, and programs.

Learn more about tribal consultations in Alaska 

West Coast Tribal Consultations

West Coast Region Indian tribes retain strong spiritual and cultural ties to marine and other aquatic resources including salmon and steelhead, based on thousands of years of use for tribal religious/cultural ceremonies, subsistence, and commerce. Many Pacific Northwest Indian tribes have treaties reserving their right to fish in “usual and accustomed” fishing places and include many species in addition to salmon and steelhead. These tribes are co-managers of the fishery resource in partnership with the states and federal government. They participate in management decisions including those related to hatchery production and harvest.

Learn more about tribal consultations on the West Coast