Fishermen angry over new gillnet rules

“Growing up as a young man, the commercial fishermen were the pillars of the community. As a young man, that was my dream. You know how something like that can take hold in you,” Kuller, 50, said last week.

But these days, gillnetting no longer fills his heart with pride and excitement.

Kuller still gillnets on the Columbia River and purse-seines in Alaska, and he’s branched out into fish-buying, working with fellow Skamokawa gillnetter Kent Martin and others to deliver salmon to high-end specialty markets around the region.

But as the political controversy over gillnetting and the competition with sports fishermen have built to a climax, Kuller and other gillnetters on the Lower Columbia are losing faith that a new Columbia River fisheries plan will leave a place for them and their way of life.

In fact, Kuller has made the drastic decision to leave Wahkiakum County. Within the next few years, he will move himself, his wife, Vicki Sue, and daughter, Whitney, to a recently purchased property near Lake Havasu, Ariz., thousands of miles from the landscape and profession that have defined his life for the last 25 years.

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