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Take Action: Reckless Commissioners Push to Return Gill Nets to the Columbia River

Date: Friday, March 1, 2019

On Tuesday, a joint-state committee of Oregon and Washington fish and wildlife commissioners voted 4-2 to recommend undoing the 2012 bi-state Columbia River Reforms. Their recommendation would restore non-tribal gillnetting to the lower mainstem Columbia River during the spring and summer seasons and increase mainstem gillnetting during the fall season – harming salmon, steelhead, and angling opportunity throughout the Columbia River basin. Unbelievable.

This recommendation was made despite dismal spring, summer, and fall chinook forecasts which will result in reduced fishing seasons and conservation concerns. The recommendation is a slap in the face to over 165,000 Oregonians who purchase the $9.75 Columbia River endorsement to implement the reforms and move gillnets off the mainstem. Shockingly, ODFW recently asked the legislature to make the endorsement permanent!

Two pro-gillnet Oregon commissioners, Bruce Buckmaster and Holly Akenson, are now working to ram these changes through the full ODFW Commission before their terms end in June. We can’t let this happen – here’s what you can do to stop it!

1 – Click HERE to send your legislators and Governor Kate Brown a pre-drafted email in opposition to this reckless effort. Please take just two minutes to personalize the email to increase its effectiveness. The legislature must hold ODFW accountable – particularly as it seeks to reauthorize the Columbia River endorsement and asks for more funding.

2 – Call Governor Kate Brown at (503) 378-4582. Ask her to block this latest effort by these reckless fish and wildlife commissioners to return gillnets to the mainstem Columbia River. Ask her to restore balance to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission through her upcoming appointments (4 of 7 seats are open this year).

3 – Forward this email/share this post with all your friends. It is critical that we generate thousands of emails and phone calls to stop this madness. We can win this effort if we all unite.

Here is a link directly to Governor Kate Brown: Share Your Opinion Form

Some of my thoughts:

I first became involved with the Columbia River Gill Net Issues upon joining the Sandy River Chapter of Northwest Steelheaders in 1968, and continued my direct involvement while working on a successful Statewide referendum that made steelhead a game fish for the first time in the state of Oregon in 1974. The gill netters and fish packers were dedicated and ruthless enemies of any and all fish conservation policy during that period, and I think that little has changed in the present.

Gill Netting is an obsolete non-selective way to harvest fish. Too many threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead wind up in these nets, and are damaged beyond repair. In this day and age Gill Netting should be totally abolished. Gill Net licenses and Gill Net businesses should be be bought up by the States of Washington and Oregon, and the practice of Gill Netting should be abolished forever. In countries (such as Belize) where this has happened failing fisheries have rebounded quickly.

There is a proviso in HB42 to do away with the current barbless hook regulation. Personally I am in favor of lessening the trauma of released fish that often occurs with barbed hooks. In fisheries where wild fish are released, I think that using single barbless hooks is just another thing that sport fishers can employ for the survivability of their fisheries, and their sport.

The 165,000 Oregonians who purchased the $9.75 Columbia River endorsement to
implement the reforms and move gillnets off the mainstream of the Columbia got bilked by the Gillneters, ODFW, and the State of Oregon. In three years that is about half a billion bucks! I didn't see that any sport shop, fly fishing shop or guide service got any cut of this money, or an endorsement to modify or save their businesses when seasons were impacted, or when fisheries failed. Instead we all got to pay for the fox in the hen house.

In 2012 a consortium of fish conservation groups attempted to put together a referendum to ban Gill Nets within the State of Oregon. Governor John kitzhaber talked these groups into negotiating. If we had stood our ground the voters of Oregon would probably have cured the problem, and I would be writing to you about a more cheerful subject. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Fish long & prosper,
Mark Bachmann
The Fly Fishing Shop, Inc.
Phone: 503-622-4607
Cell: 503-781-6468

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