THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE NORTHWEST SPORTFISHING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION
The Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association and its members thank Oregon Governor Kate Brown for affirming her support for the vital Columbia River Reforms that maximizes the economic output of the river and employs thousands of Oregonians.
Today, Governor Brown sent a stern letter to ODFW Commission Chairman Michael Finley firmly asking the Commission to change direction from the previous decision that gutted the reforms in favor of the gillnet lobby. The Governor made it clear that by abandoning the reforms the Commission was out of alignment with the administration’s views on fishery policy, it violates commitments made to thousands of anglers, and it presents an unacceptable path forward for Columbia River management due to non-concurrent regulations between Oregon and Washington.
This letter provides the hard-working men and women of Oregon’s sportfishing industry assurance that elected officials still have regard for commitments and promises made to them by this administration. Governor Brown’s letter calls on the Commission to honor those commitments made by Senate Bill 830, to adopt rules concurrent with Washington that would provide “clarity, unity and enforceability”.
When Governor Brown appointed gillnet lobbyist, Bruce Buckmaster, to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission in 2015, sportfishing industry businesses and recreational anglers were assured that the reforms were not in any danger and hundreds of businesses, both large and small, staked their livelihoods on the full implementation of the agreement. However, since Buckmaster and the Commission took action against the reforms, it shocked an industry worth more than $1.1 Billion annually to the state and incensed sport anglers who, by large a margin, make up the majority of ODFW’s operating budget through licenses and fees.
The Columbia River reforms were agreed upon by numerous user groups and both Oregon and Washington’s legislatures five years ago in an effort to maximize the economic output of the Columbia on the regional economy and to minimize the negative impacts on endangered stocks of salmon and steelhead migrating to their spawning grounds.
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. 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 Jaurary. A special thank you goes out to all the sports fishing business owners and their employees who wrote emails, letters and made countless telephone calls to express their concern with the direction the Commission took last month.