My Letter to Governor Brown

Dear Governor Brown,

I am writing to you as a constituent, an Oregonian and an avid angler.

Tomorrow, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Commission will meet in Salem to discuss the future of your predecessor’s Columbia River Reforms and Senate Bill 830.

The gillnet commercial fishing industry seeks to roll back changes made by Governor Kitzhaber to help endangered, native, wild fish coming up the river to spawn. We, as sport anglers, have invested over $1 million per year (according to ODFW) in the Columbia River Basin Endorsement meant to fund research into reducing the impact of commercial fishing on wild species.

We want to protect and preserve one of Oregon’s greatest natural resources by:

  • Allowing full implementation of gillnet ban as laid out by SB830 in 2012
  • Continuing to research alternatives to gillnet fishing, which harms wild fish populations
  • Keeping the 80 percent sport-fishing quota promised in the bill

The ODFW fisheries program is destined mainly to benefit sport fishers, not commercial fishers. By restricting sport fishers’ access and harvest, then allocating the unharvested fish to commercial fishers, the state is robbing Peter to pay Paul, when Peter contributes far more to Oregon’s economy than Paul. Sport fishers were promised a 70–80 percent allocation of Columbia River fish. To renege on that deal will show that sport fishers cannot trust the Commission.

We understand the importance of commercial fisheries to Oregon’s economy, but stand firm that it should not come at the expense of Oregon’s 700,000 sport anglers, 170,000 of whom fish the Columbia river and tributaries which extend as far south as the McKenzie River in the Willamette Valley, all the way to the Snake River on the Idaho border. ODFW estimates that outdoors activities including fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing contribute upwards of $2 billion dollars annually.

Furthermore, the Commission wants to promise to reimburse commercial fishers if implementing the Columbia River Reforms hurts their bottom line. In what other field does the government do this? And, will the state reimburse my annual $122.75 for license, tags and endorsement if I don’t catch any fish?

Please understand the importance of this to us. We give our money, our volunteer time and our love to protect the fish that are a valuable natural resource to us as anglers, to the state economically, and to the environment. We want to be able to pass our legacy and passion on to our children and tell them with pride that we stand up to preserve one of Oregon’s greatest resources not simply for ourselves, but for future generations.

Although you do not make the laws yourself, your voice holds much sway. I want to encourage you to use it to help hundreds of thousands of your constituents, not a handful of gillnetters and a commercial-friendly commission. Please voice your support for us, for the state, and for the fish.

Thank you,

Aaron

Association of Northwest Steelheaders Member

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