ILWACO — Fishermen and other interested parties were packed tight as Dungeness crab in a deck tote March 24, to learn about community fishing associations and how such a CFA might boost the fishing sector in Ilwaco and Chinook.

CFAs are non-profit organizations tailored to local needs. They usually obtain fishing permits and quotas, then lease them out at subsidized rates to new fishermen getting into the business. Typically, these beginning fishermen “graduate” after five years or so, as they gain expertise and can afford to buy fishing rights of their own.

In recent months, the idea of forming a CFA has gained traction on the Washington side of the Columbia estuary. In theory, such an association would ease the way for a new generation to start fishing at a time when monopolization, aging skippers and vessels, and the high costs of getting started threaten the tradition of independent fishermen. These trends can result in loss of locally owned fishing permits, along with the economy supported by commercial fishing.

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