SEASIDE — Otis Hunsinger, a fourth-generation commercial fisherman of Astoria and provider for a family of five, stood in front of a joint Oregon and Washington Fish and Wildlife work group meeting Thursday holding his newborn child and described what was at stake if gillnetting is banned on the Columbia River.
"You know if you keep pushing this, maybe you can take the bottle right out of my kid's mouth," he said, while attacking a proposal that would limit nontribal commercial gillnet fishing on the main stem of the lower Columbia.
The proposal was also met Thursday with the release of a resolution by the Association of Oregon Counties (all the county commissioners in Oregon), which asked the Fish and Wildlife commissions to slow the process of assessing commercial fishing on the Columbia and to take more public input.
It came as staff members from Oregon and Washington Fish and Wildlife departments, as well as fishing industry advisers, met in Seaside to help finalize the proposal that is a cooperative effort between neighboring state agencies. The proposal is a response to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber's August letter to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission asking for a re-evaluation of fishery management on the lower Columbia. His request came when Measure 81, which would have banned the use of gillnets on the main stem entirely, was on the November election ballot. Groups in favor of Measure 81 stopped campaigning after the governor's intervention. The measure subsequently failed by a 66 percent margin in Oregon and by 86 percent in Clatsop County.
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