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Michael Souza

Commecial Gillnetting Threatened

By November 28, 2012

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    Measure 81 threatens gillnets
    A joint Oregon and & Washington Fish and Wildlife work group has proposed to ban gillnetting on the the main stem of the lower Columbia River for all non-tribal entities. In addition, the proposal met resistance by the Association of Oregon Counties which asked the Fish and Wildlife commissions to take more public input and slow the assessment of commercial fishing.
    Staff members from Oregon and Washington's Fish and Wildlife departments and industry advisers met in Seaside, Oregon, to help finalize a cooperative proposal between the two states., prompted by Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber's August letter to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission for a re-evaluation of fishery management on the lower Columbia River.
    His request came when Measure 81, banning the use of gillnets on the main stem entirely, was on the November election ballot. Those in favor of Measure 81 stopped campaigning after the governor's intervention. The measure subsequently failed by a resounding 66 percent margin in Oregon and by 86 percent in Clatsop County.
chinook salmon
    The governor's proposal would phase out the use of gillnets by 2017 on the main stem and is a compromise to those entirely opposed to the nets' use. To make up for potential commercial fishing losses, the proposal suggests expanding production of salmon species in existing off-channel sites.
    From 2013 to 2016, seasonal coho and chinook salmon runs would be regulated, allocating 70 percent to recreational fishermen and 30 percent to commercial gillnet fishermen, eventually becoming 80 percent recreational and 20 percent commercial beyond 2017. The proposal would also require the use of seine nets by commercial fishermen in main stem waters.
    As to be expected, it was met with strong reactions in favor and against the proposal during the public comment period, by commercial fishermen who use gillnets on the Columbia and recreational anglers. Commercial gillnet fishermens' concerns about the proposal are expensive upgrades to new equipment such as seine nets, less access to fish runs and limited space to use gillnets in the select off-channel areas.
    Members of the Coastal Conservation Association, a nonprofit organization, support Measure 81.
    A final decision on the proposal is scheduled in Portland Dec. 7 by Oregon's Fish and Wildlife Commission and in Olympia, Wash., between Dec. 14 and 15.

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