Wednesday, April 30, 2014

No Fish For You

By Chris Philips, Managing Editor, Fishermen's News

Last week we were copied on an email exchange between a chef at one of the West Coast’s most successful, respected and renowned seafood restaurants and his supplier of fresh salmon.

The chef asked his supplier what he could expect for the coming week. A week before Easter, with Mother’s Day not far away, restaurants in Seattle are gearing up for “deck season,” when the weather makes al fresco dining attractive and profitable.

“I’m afraid that last week’s 8-hour opening was all we got,” the buyer responded. “Even though we stayed within our total catch prediction, there was a higher percentage of the limited upriver fish in the catch than the managers expected. So coupled with the fact that part of our share was transferred to the sport fishery this year, we don’t have enough fish for another opening at this time. If the run continues to come in as predicted we should get a few more openings after May 10th, like we did last year, but I realize that doesn’t help much when you’d like fresh fish in April.”

Mother’s Day is May 11th this year. Pacific Northwest restaurants hoping for fresh Columbia River Salmon for one of the busiest days of the year will be disappointed.

The fish purveyor explained the problem to the restaurateur:

“We are trying to hold on to this fishery but the Fish & Wildlife Commission, apparently with the approval of the Governor, continues to try and eliminate the commercial access to this public resource. I apologize for continuing to beat the same drum, but this would be a great time to send a letter from your owners and staff to the Fish & Wildlife Commission, the Governor, and to your local and federal legislators, asking them why one 8-hour opening (for 1,700 Chinook) is a fair sharing of this exceptional resource.”

We have the same question, and many more, to ask Governor Inslee. Why has he declined to address the inequities of the Commission’s actions on the Columbia? More from the fish broker:

“Incidentally, the sport fishery’s share is 10,150 upriver Chinook and another 500-800 lower river fish.”

It seems Pacific Northwest restaurants hoping for fresh salmon might have to rely on farmed salmon this year. We wonder whether Governors Kitzhaber and Inslee will be celebrating Mother’s Day this year, and if either has made reservations at one of the local restaurants operated, staffed and patronized by their constituents, who depend on fresh salmon for their livelihoods.

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