The recent front page article, “Net pens planned for aid gillnetters,” republished from the Columbia Basin Bulletin, contends that moving non-tribal commercial gillnets off the mainstem will “reduce the impact of commercial fishing on wild salmon and steelhead listed under the Endangered Species Act….”
This statement omits the fact that the wild fish that might have been caught and killed incidental to harvest in the commercial fishery, known as impacts, will not be going to spawning escapements for conservation or recovery purposes. Rather, the impacts of mainstem commercial fisheries on wild fish are being transferred to the recreational fishery.
The State wants recreational fisheries to expand and to do so, they need to kill more wild fish in the form of hook and release mortalities. It is that simple. There are no salmon recovery benefits related to the transfer of extra wild fish kills to the sport fishery. There are, however, economic consequences for our communities that have depended upon commercial fishing for generations.
It is our hope that the net pens will to some degree alleviate the loss of the mainstem fishery, but please be clear, there is no recovery or conservation benefit involved in transferring the commercial fishing allocation of impacts to the sport fishery.
Kent Martin, Skamokawa