Salem, Ore – Last Friday night the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 4-3 to permanently allow the continued use of non-tribal commercial gillnets in the lower Columbia River, effectively abandoning the bi-state Columbia River fishery reforms that were adopted as an alternative to Ballot Measure 81 four years ago.
The Commission’s vote came less than a week after the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 7-2 to adopt a package of changes intended to reach a compromise with Oregon and continue phasing out non-selective gillnets on the mainstem Columbia River. Oregon’s vote sets the stage for ending the concurrent management of the Columbia River by the states of Oregon and Washington — for the first time in nearly a century.
The four Oregon Commissioners – led by former gillnet industry lobbyist Bruce Buckmaster – ignored warnings from ODFW staff about the ramifications of their vote, including the prospect of plunging the management of Columbia River fisheries into disarray. They also disregarded thousands of public comments and testimony – including formal comments from Oregon Wild, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, and the Wild Salmon Center – overwhelmingly urging the Commission to continue implementing the gillnet reforms.
Dave Schamp, Chairman of Oregon Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) issued the following statement:
“Friday’s decision is a black mark on the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission and Oregon Governor Kate Brown, who appointed Bruce Buckmaster to the Commission and effectively enabled his effort to undo the plan – contrary to the Governor’s own promises and those of the legislators who confirmed his nomination.
The Commission’s action puts increased gillnet industry profits ahead of the conservation of our fish and wildlife, including endangered salmon and steelhead. It is also a slap in the face to hundreds of thousands of recreational anglers who purchased the Columbia River Basin Endorsement over the past three years to fund the reforms – the last thing the agency needs heading into difficult budget negotiations in the legislature this year.
CCA Oregon is considering a variety of actions in response to the Commission’s decision, including working with legislators in Salem to hold ODFW accountable through statutory and budget reforms — stay tuned. In the meantime, anglers across the Northwest should send an email to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissioners at vog.aw.wfdnull@noissimmoc thanking them for standing strong for the reforms.”
If you have any comments, questions or concerns. Please direct them to CCA Oregon, Executive Director- Chris Cone at firstname.lastname@example.org