Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Editorial: Keep the Columbia

Parties opposed to continued commercial fisheries along the West Coast and specifically in the Columbia River have launched letter-writing campaigns as the Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting in Oregon approaches. Robert Sudar, a fish buyer and marketer from Longview, Washington, is concerned that fishermen may not be voicing their perspectives on how the Policy is affecting them and their families.

He suggests that fishermen and their friends, families and acquaintances should send a short note to the Commissions (in both states) expressing the importance of a viable mainstem gillnet fishery. It wouldn't have to be long or complicated, he says. For instance:

I want to contact you to request that your Commission modify the Columbia River Reform Policy because it has failed to prove that moving the commercial fishery out of the mainstem and into the Select Areas is the right choice for fishermen, consumers or lower river communities. Enhancement and returns to the Select Areas has fallen short of predictions. There has been no increase in sport angler trips or license sales. There has been no conservation benefit. None of the alternative gears have been shown to be economically successful or to have acceptable release mortality rates. And the gillnet fishery has shown itself to be selective in all seasons through the proven technique of time/area/gear changes to access target salmon, avoid non-target salmon and steelhead, and remain within its management guidelines. Please recognize the failings of this Policy and modify it so it can be a benefit to all residents of the Northwest.
One such fisherman has been proactive and sent a letter to both commissions last week:

As a commercial fisherman who fishes for the public in Alaska, Washington and Oregon to provide nutritious seafood for its residents, I find this current plan unfair and unjust. This fish resource is for the 99% of the residents of these states, and the entire United States who don't sport fish. This is a resource grab by the 1% of the greedy CCA and so-called sportsmen.

The definition of a good sportsman is to be considerate of others, play fairly by the rules and to think of others before oneself. That's what I learned as a youth playing sports. Furthermore the Bible teaches us, in Proverbs, it's better to have a good name than great riches. The Kitzhaber name and plan for the Columbia River do not fit this proverb. Please do not adopt this ill-conceived plan – you can do much better than this, and the public deserves better. The Kitzhaber name is soiled and mired in scandals and unethical schemes to benefit a few.

But not so fast! I have been informed from reliable sources that WDFW have been informed that if the Kitzhaber plan is adopted the Columbia River tribes will be there on the main stem, in full force, to fish the lower River, and you can all thank Liz Hamilton and CCA. That ought to be a lot of fun for you all – let me know how that works out.

I have a lot of tribal friends on the upper River. Nothing will change except there will be a bigger presence of commercial tribal fisherman than you can imagine.

Do your job and do right by the public and do not adopt this Kitzhaber plan.

John C. MacDonald
Commercial fisher who fishes for the public

We urge any fisherman interested in the continued viability of his industry to make his feelings known to both commissions:

Even if everyone just copied it and sent it in, Sudar says, “We would be making a statement that this is a big deal to many people. If they send 100 letters and we get 40 or 50, that would be a huge help for us, and for the Commissioners, as they try and do what's right with this public resource.”

Chris Philips 
Managing Editor 
Fishermen’s News

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