Gov. Brown Requests Oregon Fish Commission To Change Columbia Policy

An extraordinary letter today from Oregon Governor Kate Brown: She is requesting that the Fish and Wildlife Commission “change its decision regarding the non-tribal Lower Columbia fishery reforms.”

“The current rules, as adopted on January 20th, 2017, are not acceptable,” Brown writes in the note to Commission Chair Michael Finley.

(OREGON GOVERNOR’S OFFICE)

Northwest Sportsman has confirmed the authenticity of the letter.

After a four-year phase-in, Oregon and Washington had been scheduled to fully implement fishery reforms this year on the Columbia, but Oregon began to shy away from planned fall Chinook impact allocations and gillnetting on the big river.

After Washington’s Fish and Wildlife Commission voted in mid-January on a middle ground proposal, Oregon’s went the opposite way, throwing nearly a century of concurrent management up in the air.

The move infuriated sport anglers who have been paying an $9.75 fee to help move the commercial fleet into off-channel areas, and drew the ire of Oregon lawmakers.

That appears to have gotten the attention of the governor.

“Oregon and Washington have invested a great deal of time and effort in resolving conflicts and providing certainty for fisheries in the Lower Columbia River. It is the policy of my administration to honor those commitments. Honoring those commitments means adhering to the intent of Senate Bill 830, adopting regulations and rules concurrent with the state of Washington, and providing clarity, unity, and enforceability of the rules that govern the Columbia River fishery,” Brown’s letter reads.

THE ASTORIA-MEGLER BRIDGE ARCS OVER THE WEST MOORING BASIN IN ASTORIA DURING 2014’S BUOY 10 FISHERY. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

It says that ODFW staff presented a recommendation that would have done that job, as did the policy that Washington’s commission adopted.

“I ask that you adopt permanent rules to align the rules of the Fish and Wildlife Commission with the policy of my administration. I expect this action to occur by April 3rd, 2017,” Brown writes.

The Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association thanked Gov. Brown for her request of the commisssion.

“Today’s letter is a big step in the right direction towards honoring the spirit of the reforms and the commitments made to the sportfishing industry,” the organization stated in a press release. “NSIA now calls on the Oregon Commissioners to honor the Governor’s letter and vote to concur with the compromise plan the Washington Commision passed in January.”

NSIA also thanked Sportfishing businesses and their employees who contacted the governor’s office with their concerns.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post had an incorrect amount for Oregon’s Columbia River Basin endorsement; it’s $9.75, not $8.75.

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