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Gillnetting Practices Continue to Threaten Columbia River Recreational Fisheries

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Coastal Conservation Association Oregon

Concern grows over ODFW commission meeting to hold agreement between bordering states set to roll out in 2017.

An agreement was reached between Oregon and Washington, the two bordering states along the Columbia River, to phase out commercial gill-netting, ending the controversial non-selective harvest practice.

The lower Columbia River was the last place in the state of Oregon where non-tribal commercial gill-netting was still allowed. Oregon and Washington Governors agreed to prioritize the Columbia River’s recreational fisheries in 2012.

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Photo courtesy of Coastal Conservation Association Oregon

Instead of an immediate ban, a three-year plan was developed that provides funding for commercial gillnetters to transition to more selective fishing methods. Part of the plan restricts gillnet fisheries to side channels like Youngs Bay. The plan also implemented a new $9.75 annual Columbia River endorsement fee charged to Oregon anglers, which helped fund these reforms and improvements to sport fisheries.

Voters shot down the plan in 2012, only to see the Fish and Wildlife commissions of both states proceed with it in 2013. The plan is set to go into full effect next year, including an end to non-selective gillnet fishing, but the ODFW Commission is being lobbied to rollback the plan.

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Photo courtesy of Coastal Conservation Association Oregon

The plan was implemented under the term of former Oregon Governor, John Kitzhaber, who afterwards resigned after being the state’s longest serving Governor. Concern over the gillnet industry lobby grew among sportfishing advocacy groups after stand-in Governor Kate Brown appointed gillnetting strategist Bruce Buckmaster to the state’s Fish and Wildlife commission.

Oregon’s Coastal Conservation Association encourages sport fishermen to send a personalized email to the ODFW Commission at ODFW.Commission@state.or.us and ODFW Director Curt Melcher at curt.melcher@state.or.us, urging them to honor the agreement on gill net reforms.

CCA is also encouraging anglers to show up in person in Salem on November 9th at the ODFW Commission 4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE (directions).

You can sign a petition advocating for the Columbia River’s sport fisheries here: stopthegillnetrollback.com.

Photo courtesy of Coastal Conservation Association Oregon
Photo courtesy of Coastal Conservation Association Oregon

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Gillnetting Practices Continue to Threaten Columbia River Recreational Fisheries