Feb. 27, 2017 was the Oregon salmon meeting, which is mostly an open forum for discussions on the commercial and sport salmon season. This year I found out how important it is. I’ve never gotten to go due to my work schedule, but have always wanted to attend, and this year finally was able to be there.

I’ve always wanted to go, not just because fishing has been in my family for generations and my dad and brother have been to meetings for their fisheries and told me of their importance. But also because I care about the salmon troll industry and hope it’s something I can do for the rest of my life. I wanted to go just to observe and learn. But the longer I sat there, the more I realized that there were important topics being passed over. There were questions being asked, and no solutions being provided. I noticed that most people were just upset and wanted to vent. Understanding their frustrations, I listened but I also noticed it really didn’t help anything, including the topic they were concerned over.

Finally a specific situation, too personal to my ability to fish came up, and I noticed that it was almost being ignored. I’m not a fan of crowds and especially public speaking, so thankfully there weren’t a lot of people there. And I had a good friend with me who was there to push me into speaking, because I stood up and said my piece. I nervously talked for only a minute, even though it felt like a lifetime, and took my seat.

The meeting continued, and I wondered if what I said even mattered. After a few minutes, some more of the aggravated folks got back to arguing, and I went out into the hall. A couple minutes later, a man from the Oregon Salmon Industry Group approached me and actually thanked me for speaking on topic and saying what I did because he agreed and told me he was gonna fight for basically everything I had said.

After that, I had the realization that me talking for only a minute was not only important, but could very well affect how my fishing season plays out. I was one of many fishermen who I’m sure think going won’t affect anything, but now I know that’s not the case.

I’d like to urge all the local fishermen to go to these meetings. Maybe you’ll go with no intention like I did, but make an impact because most of you have so much knowledge and can help in ways you didn’t expect. If you care about salmon fishing or any fishery, go to your meetings. You might be surprised by the end result.

Calvin Ashley | F/V Helen i | Newport, Ore.

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