The Fight to Ban Gillnetters on the Columbia River Rages On!

Which side of the gillnetting debate are you on?

Commercial fishermen continue their battle against a ban on gillnetting on the Columbia river.  This stems from a decision last year by Oregon’s Governor John Kitzhaber who put forward that recreational fishermen should get priority over the Salmon runs on the Columbia River instead of the commercial fishermen.  You can imagine how that went over, especially when the fish and wildlife commissions of both Oregon and Washington went along with it.

Commercial gillnetters have filed court action in both states to challenge implementation of the plan.

The plaintiffs say 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.” Plaintiffs say they will suffer irreparable economic harm if forced to move to the side channels.

Why I support  banning commercial fishing on the Columbia

The fact is that commercial fishing does provide jobs and income for those working the boats.  But, the revenue generated by recreational fishing, guiding salmon fishing trips, tackle sales, food sales and all the other things that go along with having lots of salmon to fish for far outweigh that created by commercial fishing.

gillnetting is non-selective
Gillnetting is completely non-selective catching wild and hatchery fish alike as well as significant amounts of by-catch.

Furthermore, gillnetting is a very destructive practice as it is completely non-selective.  Native and hatchery fish alike are caught and have a very high mortality rate.

To put the nail in the gillnetting coffin, many are lost each year adding to the number of ghost nets that drift the oceans sucking up fish, crustaceans and cetaceans they cross paths with.  They take decades to degrade and are an environmental nightmare!

With our Salmon stocks in danger already, I am completely for banning all commercial and native fishing not just on the Columbia River but in Puget Sound, until the salmon runs recover.  Once runs are strong again with significant numbers of native fish returning, then we can talk about having a commercial fishery on the Columbia River and in Puget Sound again!

Colville Confederated Tribes’ Selective Salmon Harvest

While I am normally one to bash the hell out of tribal fishing practices, I have to say that it is nice to see at least one tribe making an effort to change their fishing methods to protect the native Chinook Salmon on the Columbia river.  For the last three years, thanks to funding from the Bonneville Power Administration, the Colville Tribes have been experimenting with a new selective commercial Salmon harvesting method.  Check it out!

If more tribes actually made and effort to save the Salmon, I would probably quit yelling about it so much.  I would love to get anyone’s input on this program and if it is going to work, or if it is just for show.