Opinion: The future of Pacific Northwest fishing

For fishing communities, NOAA Fisheries’ annual publication about commercial landings makes great reading. As we’ve observed in the past, “Fisheries of the United States” is interesting here in much the same way crop reports are a topic of fascination for farmers.

Analysis of multi-year trends points out some concerning news about the strength of commercial fisheries on the Lower Columbia. The 2015 edition of the annual fisheries compendium from the National Marine Fisheries Service finds Lower Columbia River landings at something of a low ebb.

With crabbing delayed into 2016 due to a marine toxin bloom, Ilwaco/Chinook landings dipped to their lowest level in at least half a dozen years. It remains to be seen whether the same problem recurs this December — a possibility, considering the ongoing toxin-related delay in razor clam season.

With about 92 million pounds of landings, Astoria area ports were in 13th place nationwide in terms of volume in 2015. Reflecting the relatively low price of some local harvests — such as hake and sardines — the south shore ports were in 27th place nationwide in the value of landings — about $38 million. South-side ports were far behind Westport in terms of value of the 2015 catch — Westport was 12th in the U.S. with a 2015 total of $65 million. Ilwaco/Chinook fell off the top-50 list.

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About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 13 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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