In December of last year, as a gift to the recreational fishing industry, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife commission voted to ban commercial gillnets on the mainstem of the Columbia River. The following month, the Washington State Fish and Wildlife Commission followed suit.
Last month a judge in Oregon ordered the state to stop the implementation of that state’s gillnet ban after two commercial fishermen filed a petition asking the court to invalidate the plan. In Washington a group of gillnet fishermen has filed a petition with Washington’s Superior Court to review that state’s ban and “seek the court’s determination that the regulation is invalid.” The petition states that the Washington commission exceeded its authority by adopting the rules because it conflicts with the commission’s mandate to “maintain a stable fishing industry in the state.”
Every January the US Department of Commerce publishes a report on fisheries economics of the United States. The most recent report, which uses two-year-old data to allow for data collection, analysis and peer review, offers some statistics on the commercial and recreational fisheries along the Pacific Coast. The data is in stark contrast to the reports promoted by the state of Washington that have been discredited as incomplete by none other than the Director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife himself.
If the state would like accurate data, here are some of the numbers tabulated by the Federal Government:
Washington had the highest landings revenue in the region with $331 million in 2011, followed by California ($201 million) and Oregon ($148 million).
In 2011, the Pacific Region’s seafood industry generated $8 billion in sales impacts in Washington, while the state’s recreational fisheries (which have declined by 28 percent since 2002) contributed $514 million.
The report also notes that the seafood sales and processing in Washington brought annual receipts of $18 million, while seafood product preparation and packaging employed almost 8,000 full- and part-time workers with an annual payroll of $344 million.
Statewide, commercial fisheries employed more than 67,000 people and brought more than $8 billion in sales revenue and almost $3.3 billion in added value, while the recreational fishery employed fewer than 5,000 people and saw sales and added value combined of less than $800 million, or roughly seven percent of the value of the commercial fishery.
At press time, Miranda Wecker, Gary Douvia and Chuck Perry continue to serve on the Washington State Fish and Wildlife Commission, although their terms expired more than three months ago. Because of the three impending vacancies on the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, the commercial fishing industry has an opportunity to finally have a voice on the commission. Bruce Botka, in the office of Community Outreach and Public Affairs for the Department of Fish & Wildlife has offered guidance on applying or nominating others to serve on the Fish and Wildlife Commission:
People who wish to apply personally may do so online through this link on Governor Inslee’s website: http://www.governor.wa.gov/boards/default.aspx.
Groups who wish to nominate one or more candidates should email Molly Keenan, who is coordinating the appointment process. Her address is firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s most helpful if such emails contain brief biographical information about each person nominated. Assuming those people are interested in serving, they should follow up by completing the online application.
Mr. Botka assures us that Governor Inslee will appreciate hearing from the industry.