This week three groups who supported an Oregon ballot initiative to ban commercial gillnetting in the Columbia River have pulled their support from the ballot measure. They are instead throwing their weight behind Gov. John Kitzhaber's proposed solution to restrict fishermen using this gear type to off-channel areas. Ostensibly, this area closure would allow commercial fishermen to catch hatchery fish and reduce their catch of low-return wild salmon.??
The tragic flaw of the ballot measure (No. 81) is that it does nothing to reduce fishing overall. First, it would simply allow recreational fishermen to exploit the same stocks through different methods and second, it would not restrict Washington-based gillnetters on their side of the river.
??I don't understand the proclivity to eliminate jobs and entire communities on a whim or the misguided belief that one type of fisherman is better or worse than another type.??
While I disagree that simply moving fishermen out of their historic fishing grounds is the best choice, I applaud the Association of Northwest Steelheaders, the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association and the Northwest Guides and Anglers Association for moving away from an extreme stance by supporting Kitzhaber.
??I urge the Coastal Conservation Association, Oregon Wild and the Humane Society to make moves toward reason and compromise, as well. Join industry and tribal groups, who also oppose the ballot measure, in a discussion, not a shutdown.
??Come November, I hope the people of Oregon will vote with their hearts in support of their fellow citizens, jobs, community and history.