SALEM, Ore. – Oregon is moving ahead with a proposed phase-out of commercial gillnetting along the Columbia River. A state fish and wildlife panel Tuesday gave the initial go-ahead to the proposal made by Governor John Kitzhaber. The action comes as the governor tries to head off a more restrictive ballot measure.
Measure 81 would ban the use of gillnets by non-tribal commercial fishermen along the Oregon side of the Columbia River. Sport fishermen and environmental groups say the nets kill endangered wild salmon and other marine wildlife.
But the commercial fishing industry says a ban on gillnets would be a crippling blow.
Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber opposes the ballot measure. Instead, he wants to phase-out of gillnetting along the Columbia over the next four years, but continue to allow it in certain side-channels near the mouth of the river. And the governor wants the plan in place by the end of the year. Oregon
Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Roy Elicker says that’s an aggressive timetable.
“It will be a heavy lift. I will not kid anyone this,” Elicker says. “I don’t think I’m saying anything new here. But I think we can achieve the governor’s direction and in a timely way.”
Supporters of the ban say they applaud the governor’s efforts but haven’t yet decided on the future of their ballot measure campaign.
(This was first reported by the Northwest News Network.)
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