Gillnetting on the Columbia


Raincatcher

Well-known member
Moderator
Coastal Conservation Association Oregon
Today, a joint-state committee of Oregon and Washington fish and wildlife commissioners voted 4-2 to recommend a return to non-tribal gillnetting in the lower mainstem Columbia River during the spring and summer seasons and an increase in mainstem gillnetting during the fall season.
The recommendation to undo the 2012 bi-state Columbia River gillnet reforms comes as Columbia River salmon and steelhead returns have plummeted in recent years – leading to recreational fishing closures throughout the Columbia River basin. The vote also comes at the same time WDFW and ODFW are asking their respective legislatures to reauthorize the Columbia River Basin Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement paid for by recreational anglers. WDFW is also seeking a recreational license fee increase.
The recommendation will now go to each state’s fish and wildlife commission, which would have to modify their policies/rules to reverse the Columbia River reforms, return gillnets to the mainstem, and reduce recreational fishing opportunity.
The Washington Commission will be meeting in Spokane on March 1-2 where we expect Washington Commissioner Don McIsaac (Hockinson) to push for their adoption – hundreds of miles away from most of the fisheries affected by the decision. The recommendation would also make barbless hooks “voluntary” in Columbia River recreational fisheries – a clear effort to distract anglers from the vote to undo the bi-state fishery reforms and harm our fisheries.
With the 2019 spring chinook run projected to be below 50% of the ten-year average, and summer chinook forecasted to barely meet escapment, a non-tribal gill net fishery on the lower mainstem Columbia River would be extraordinarily reckless. The fall chinook forecast is equally poor, and with record low returns of wild steelhead over the past two years, mainstem gillnetting could further erode many struggling ESA-listed stocks.
CCA will be sending out more details and action alerts shortly, so stay turned for more updates. The votes were as follows:
Yes – McIsaac (WA), Kehoe (WA), Buckmaster (OR), Akenson (OR)
No – Graybill (WA), Webber (OR)
 

Irishrover

Well-known member
Moderator
I think they will have to at least run that by the Oregon legislature. The bill that was to remove gillnet fishing from the main stem of the river was SB 830. The DFWs will be able to make some adjustments as are allowed in the bill but they certainly can not just ignore that statute. Kitzhaber proposed SB 830 as a way to get around the ballot measure that was out there offering a full closer. I can see that measure coming back in a hart beat. The problem now with the ODF&W commission is Bruce Buckmaster a former Gillnet lobbyist is on the commission and has pushed other commissioners to support commercial fishing rather that adhere to SB830. I have appeared before ODF&W and the State Legislature a few time to testify on the issue. I have found their ears to be closed regarding this issue.
 

Aervax

Active member
Hmm. Seems to me like the appointment of Bruce Buckmaster was a slap in the face to the salmon and steelhead natural resources in Oregon. Almost like it was an intentional middle finger pointed at the citizens of the state. I do not know of a single fisherman who said cool, his appointment is a sign the governor is serious about the stewardship of our state natural resources. The message sent by our governor and Bruce Buckmaster is Crystal clear to me. Sooo...what do we need to do to bring back the ballot measure for full closure of gillnetting?
 

Stumpy

Member
Amen, Aervax!

I suspect legislation or litigation is the only route at this point
.
I recall Buckmaster's appointment was controversial. He said he'd support the Columbia River reforms. The gov even said she would pull him if he went off course. He did; she didn't. It continues to amaze me the power that man wields and mis-uses!

I hope someone with deep pockets will sue, or that an outfit with political savvy will organize another ballot measure.
 

Aervax

Active member
I think because it was done once already that a successful ballot initiative will be easier and even more effective the second time around. Just press repeat, and add the experience gained from the first round. And DO NOT, ABSOLUTELY DO NOT allow it to be derailed by state politicians the second time around. They will lie, claim to want to do it the right way, then sell out the salmon and steelhead resource again after the gillnetting interests contribute to their campaign funds.

"How do you know when a politican is lying? Look at their mouth. If their lips are moving, they are lying." I know, it's an old and over used joke in fishing circles. It could never be more accurately used than in this conversation, though.

Does anyone know the parties who were behind the initiative the first time around? Getting a discussion going between them and the conservation and sport fishing interests might be a good first step. That meeting could send a delegation to meet with Kate Brown and key state politicians to put them on notice that once the ballot initiative is started there will be no backing down. Give them a chance to respond, adopt and comply with SB 830. Maybe get them to dump Buckmaster as well.

If that is a no go, recruiting anglers on fishing websites and in the various fishing clubs and organizations to get petitions signed to put a new anti gill netting law on the ballot should not prove too difficult. Not like I have done it before, or really have any idea what I am talking about though.

Anyone out there done something like this, someone who can give it their two cents?
 

troutdude

Well-known member
Moderator
I totally understand how you all feel about this. Me too.

So...thanks for handling this with civility and decorum. Hopefully we can find a way.
 
Is their anything that we could do? Even though I'm doubtful about the effectiveness of calling representatives and such, is there anything like that, that we can do.
 

Irishrover

Well-known member
Moderator
One simple and positive thing that can be done, is to contact your state senator and rep and ask that they support SB547. It would clean this mess up in one clean swoop. The bill would ban gillnet fishing on the Columbia river. It would put an end to the problems created by SB 830. It would also take the decision out of the hands of the ODF&W commission. It is well past time to stop this arcane non selective method of fishing. It has been outlawed on the Willamette for over a 100 years. They banned it in Tillamook Bay, the Nehalem, the Nestucca and the rest of the state. If the legislature fails to do it then it is time for a new measure 81.
 

Stumpy

Member
It just gets worse, folks!
Washington's Commission is throwing in the towel--shirt-canning the Columbia River Reforms.
Let us hope that the Oregon legislature will kill gillnetting before the insurrection begins!
 

Stumpy

Member
There is a rally planned for sports anglers at the state capital next Wednesday, March 13th at noon on the west side of the rotunda. Watch for all the CCA red caps. They will be giving some away! The occasion will be to provide input regarding the ODFW budget. That is where oddfew wants to keep the Columbia River Endorsement program while they are about to drop everything that program was designed to do.
 

Irishrover

Well-known member
Moderator
The CCA is one group that has fought hard for salmon recovery and the sports fishing person. ODF&W not so much when it comes to Gillnets in the Columbia River. Salmon for All a gillnet lobby, has the governor in their pocket along with State Senator Betsy Johnson of Scappoose and some of the ODF&W commissioners.
 

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