SALEM — Oregon is close to launching a fund to compensate commercial fisherman for financial losses and new gear they will need to purchase, as a result of the state's new fish management policy that took effect one year ago on the Lower Columbia River. Oregon and Washington are phasing out non-tribal commercial gillnet fishing on the main stem of the Columbia River by 2017, and increasing the portion of fish allocated to recreational anglers.
Oregon lawmakers set aside $500,000 from the state general fund to compensate commercial fishermen, as part of a 2013 bill to prepare for fishery management changes that Gov. John Kitzhaber called for in 2012. Before fishermen can apply for help through the program, the state must adopt rules to administer it and the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to vote on those proposed rules at its Friday meeting.
Private individuals and groups can also contribute to the fund to help fishermen transition away from gillnets, although ODFW has not yet received any donations, according to an agency report.
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