Written by Jen Finn
NEWPORT, Ore. — The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved new fees for salmon, steelhead and sturgeon fishing in the Columbia River Basin.
The fees are part of Gov. John Kitzhaber's plan to end non-tribal commercial gill netting in the main Columbia River. It allows recreational anglers to catch more salmon in the main Columbia River channel by moving commercial gill-netters into off-channel areas.
But it also requires recreational anglers to pay a new set of fees $9.75 a year or a dollar a day. The fees are expected to generate $1 million a year. Most of that money will be used to boost the production of hatchery fish for commercial gill-netters to catch in off-channel areas.
Hobe Kytr of the gill-netting group Salmon for All said that funding won't make the gill-netters whole once they are barred from fishing on the Columbia River channel.
"If it helps further the concept so we can have something to catch, then I guess that's fine and dandy," he said.
But he said the river's off-channel areas don't have enough capacity to support the gill-net fishery.
"We have opposed this plan from the get-go," Kytr said.
Commissioners said they were surprised to learn that the fees would have to apply to sport fishing in tributaries of the Columbia River as well as the main river. That means people fishing for salmon in the Deschutes River or the John Day or even the Oregon stretch of the Snake River will have to pay the fees as well.
That was unwelcome news to Commissioner Laura Anderson of Newport. She was the sole board member to vote against the new fees. Anderson said she thought the fees would be limited to sport fishers in the Columbia River main stem.
"I really don't feel good about what I feel is a switcheroo," she said. "I think the intent was for a main stem to main stem commercial-recreational deal."
Read the full story at the Columbian>>
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