Wednesday, January 16, 2013
What to Watch in 2013 #5: Gillnet Ban on the Lower Columbia
5. Gillnet Ban on the Lower Columbia: This year, a coalition of recreational fishing groups gathered enough signatures to put forth a ballot initiative that would ban all non-tribal gill netting on the Columbia. However, when a commission convened by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber recommended moving gill net fisheries into terminal areas, and increasing mark selective fisheries in the Lower Columbia the groups opted to drop their support for the ban. WDFW appears to be following suit, increasing the likelihood of significant changes in harvest management on the Columbia, reducing the bycatch of listed and non-target stocks.
Somewhat surprisingly, despite the fact that the new rules would improve the prospects for recovey of listed stocks and would not impact tribal fishing the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission (CRITFIC) has been among the only voices of opposition to the gill net ban on the Lower Columbia. Their opposition appears to stem from a fundamental dislike of mark selective fisheries, which have proven a vital tool for fish management on the Columbia.
Lets hope that Washington and Oregon remain committed to banning non-tribal gill nets in the Lower Columbia, a move that will be of tremendous benefit to wild salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake.