National Fisherman


Despite the 1995 and 1999 voter rejection of initiatives favoring sport fishing, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission moves steadily to restrict and eliminate commercial fisheries in Washington state. Under a veneer of conservation rhetoric, the commission has reallocated salmon, crab, prawns and now Columbia River Chinook from food fish harvesters to the politically powerful sport industry. On Jan. 12, they voted to eliminate the 150-year-old Columbia River non-tribal commercial salmon fishery, which has been a significant source of livelihood for the economically depressed southwest Washington region.

Not a single commercial fisherman nor any representative from the food industry sits on the nine member Fish and Wildlife Commission to speak for an industry which accounts for 15,000 jobs in the Seattle area alone, according to a Port of Seattle study. No one speaks for the fish consumers which my family fishing business supplies at King County farmer's markets, nor for the majority of state citizens who buy their local salmon at the fish counter. While they are excluded, the trophy-hunting Safari Club, the sport gear sales industry, fish farm advocates and other game-oriented groups all find seats at the fish and wildlife table, alongside nominal conservationists. Arguably, the current composition of the commission violates state statute, which mandates that the governor "seek" a balanced approach to management of fish and wildlife in appointments.

Former U.S. Representative Jolene Unsoeld was one of the only dissenters on the commission to challenge the idea that "hook and release" sport fishing was a conservation measure. As a result, she was savaged by a sport fishing columnist as an "idiot" who "represented only the tribes and commercial interests." After what Lynda Mapes of the Seattle Times called "an ugly and personal campaign," the sport lobby succeeded in purging her from the commission.

Read the full story at Crosscut>>

Inside the Industry

The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:

The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.

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Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.

Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.

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