January 11th, 2013
Columbia River non-Indian gillnet fishermen and seafood processors have set up the Columbia River Legal Fund to raise the money to take on the hastily decided gillnet ban and radical reallocation scheme adopted by the Oregon Fish & Wildlife Commission at its December 7 meeting. Declaring that the state left us no choice, the gillnetters filed a Petition for Judicial Review with the Oregon Court of Appeals on Friday, January 4, 2013. (See Salmon For All Press Release below.)
Though started by the Columbia River fishing industry, any interested party is welcome to donate to the Fund. Consumers and Oregon voters are, by definition, interested parties. The Columbia River commercial fishery is the surrogate for consumers in the Columbia River salmon fishery. It is Governor Kitzhaber’s considered opinion that the fish-consuming public has no right to partake of the salmon from the Columbia River main stem, which include the finest grades and varieties of salmon available anywhere in the world. Consumers no longer will have access to Columbia River spring and summer Chinook under the Kitzhaber reallocation plan. Fish from the “enhanced off-channel” fishing areas (read Select Area Fishery Enhancement project terminal fisheries) will have to suffice.
Fish that spawn far upriver build up high quantities of Omega 3 fatty acids in their flesh to sustain them on their long journey to the spawning grounds, which affects the moisture, quality, and taste of the fish. The Select Areas, on the other hand, are all near the mouth of the Columbia. Select Area spring Chinook, for instance, is quite good. But no one would ever mistake it for the melt-in-your-mouth experience of Columbia River spring Chinook from the main stem. Similarly, upriver summer Chinook was the fish that established the Columbia River reputation for quality in the heyday of the salmon canning industry. Under the newly adopted plan, consumers will have little or no access to them unless caught in the tribal fishery. And there won’t be much to go around.
Oregon voters rejected Ballot Measure 81 in the 2012 general election by a 2 to 1 margin (1,072,614 to 567,696). Yet because of the Governor’s actions, the six appointed members of the Oregon Fish & Wildlife Commission overturned the will of the voters only a month later. When we went to the polls, the ballot said: “Results of ‘No’ Vote: ‘No’ vote continues current commercial fishing practices, retains laws allowing gillnets, leaves other current regulations in place; continues annual adjustment of recreational salmon harvest.” Does the vote of the people count, or doesn’t it?
Contributions to the Columbia River Legal Fund may be mailed to CRLF, c/o P O Box 1237, Astoria, OR 97103. The CRLF pledge card is appended below as a PDF file of 234 KB. Also appended below is the Salmon For All Press Release announcing the filing of the Petition for Judicial Review.