Reality often disappoints politics. That is the case with Gov. John Kitzhaber’s plan to substitute seine nets for gillnet fishing at the mouth of the Columbia River. An ongoing experiment that is seeking to test whether seine nets would be safer for wild-spawning salmon is so far failing to live up to political hopes.
Gov. John Kitzhaber and others pushing for an end to gillnetting in the main stem of the Columbia River were hoping seines would be markedly better, by essentially corralling fish and allowing fishermen to sort through them and release non-hatchery salmon. If this worked, it might mean longer and more generous sports fishing seasons, since fewer federally protected fish would be inadvertently killed during commercial harvests.
Results to date show that tangle nets deployed by gillnetters so far appear to be the best option, while even old-fashioned gillnets are basically little worse than modern seines. Complete data comparing three net options are contained in Katie Wilson’s article in today’s edition.
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