So the hand-picked Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission had a meeting yesterday in Corvallis, although one of our esteemed "commissioners", Holley Akenson, appeared to be outwitted by the "pull" sign on the entrance door. She had almost zero understanding of impacts, was easily confused about fish migration patterns, or what "full retention" means in relation to dead fish.
Well, this is why you want political appointees to make these crucial decisions.
Nonetheless, they managed to concede the idea that they might sort of abide by the bi-state agreement that they hatched with Washington state a few years ago.
Commercial nets will still be allowed in off-channel areas, and more hatchery salmon will be produced for those areas.
Commission Chair Michael Finley said he hopes Washington will be willing to negotiate for an acceptable compromise.
Oregon's law creating the plan, he said, requires the state to address maximum economic benefits for both commercial and sportfishing. Washington's commission isn't under an economic constraint, Finley said.
Yes, that's kind of a problem for Oregon, but doesn't negate the fact that when you enter into an agreement, you abide by its terms. It's like "Hey, I'll lease this car, but I've decided I don't want to make the payments". That's not how it works.
Commercial fishermen argue they provide indispensable salmon to taxpayers who don't sportfish.
Baloney. That's a pile. And it's a stupid argument.
In 2012, then-Governor John Kitzhaber crafted a solution that avoided a battle over a ballot measure that would've banned them altogether. The compromise approach, agreed to by Washington state, called for gradually moving gill-nets from the main channel onto side channels and bays.
Late last year, Oregon's volunteer commission indicated it was not likely to fully adopt Kitzhaber's plan. In January, Oregon went one way - maintaining access to the main channel of the river in certain seasons for tangle and gill-nets. Washington largely adopted the Kitzhaber plan, though they stretched out some access to the river for gill-netters for another two years.
Bill Hunsinger, the Port of Astoria's commissioner, told wildlife commissioners Kitzhaber's plan has not worked. "And we know it, all of us know it."
He said following Washington's policies would mean the death of "150 to maybe 200 small businesses" who rely on commercial gill-netters to survive. "Is that what we want to do in today's environment?" he asked.
Sorry, Bill - that's a lie. Yes, Port dude, I'm calling you out on that. Put up or shut up: Show me the 200 businesses that rely on 85 part-time gill-netters in order to survive. You can't, and you know you can't. The fact of the matter is that gill-netting is a nonselective killer, the fact of the matter is that there are different sets of gear that allow for removal - unharmed - of supposedly protected wild salmon, and the fact of the matter is that the gill-netters don't want to change their methods. Why should they? They get a pass on killing native salmon under the guise that they are somehow benefiting communities and consumers by getting a pass on the laws that everybody else has to obey. Screw that.
It's also time for lawsuits to be filed to reclaim the Columbia River endorsement fees that were charged to recreational fishers to help pay for the transition of the gill net fleet to selective fishing gear. It is clear that the gill-netters have no intention of attempting this transition. They claim "legacy" as a reason to continue to indiscriminately destroy endangered species so that 85 gill-net license holders can take in an average of $10k per year. They claim "it's about jobs", and couldn't possibly afford to change the way they do things on their own. So recreational fishers have provided millions of dollars, paid in fees added onto their licenses, to help the 85 people keep their part-time jobs. And those 85 people refuse to make any attempt at adapting their methods. Time to sue to recover those millions of dollars.
This is exactly why I refuse to purchase Oregon fishing licenses. I don't mind buying a Washington license for those occasions when I'd like to try my line, but forget wasteful Oregon. I just won't buy an Oregon fishing license. When I buy salmon at a market, I buy line-caught Alaskan Copper River salmon. If I want fresh Columbia River salmon, I make the short trip to Cascade Locks and purchase from the Indians who catch the fish by dip-net from platforms. It contributes to the economy both for the Tribe and the rest of the community.
You know, if I catch a wild salmon and don't release it unharmed, the government will come after me tooth-and-nail. Not so for gill-netters. You bet that angers me.