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    Political games are devastating sustainable commercial fishing

    Guest Opinion: The state's current Fish and Wildlife Commission creates a wide-open playing field for sports fishing interests to have their way to the detriment of consumers and small family fishing operations alike.

    Despite the 1995 and 1999 voter rejection of initiatives favoring sport fishing, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission moves steadily to restrict and eliminate commercial fisheries in Washington state. Under a veneer of conservation rhetoric, the commission has reallocated salmon, crab, prawns and now Columbia River Chinook from food fish harvesters to the politically powerful sport industry. On Jan. 12, they voted to eliminate the 150-year-old Columbia River non-tribal commercial salmon fishery, which has been a significant source of livelihood for the economically depressed southwest Washington region.

    Not a single commercial fisherman nor any representative from the food industry sits on the nine member Fish and Wildlife Commission to speak for an industry which accounts for 15,000 jobs in the Seattle area alone, according to a Port of Seattle study. No one speaks for the fish consumers which my family fishing business supplies at King County farmer’s markets, nor for the majority of state citizens who buy their local salmon at the fish counter. While they are excluded, the trophy-hunting Safari Club, the sport gear sales industry, fish farm advocates and other game-oriented groups all find seats at the fish and wildlife table, alongside nominal conservationists. Arguably, the current composition of the commission violates state statute, which mandates that the governor “seek” a balanced approach to management of fish and wildlife in appointments.

    Former U.S. Representative Jolene Unsoeld was one of the only dissenters on the commission to challenge the idea that “hook and release” sport fishing was a conservation measure. As a result, she was savaged by a sport fishing columnist as an “idiot” who “represented only the tribes and commercial interests.” After what Lynda Mapes of the Seattle Times called “an ugly and personal campaign,” the sport lobby succeeded in purging her from the commission.

    In 2008, Fish and Wildlife Director Jeff Koenings resigned under pressure. Dr. Koenings served for ten years, had been a distinguished Alaskan fisheries manager and scientist, and had chaired the Chinook Technical Committee for the U.S./Canada Pacific Salmon Commission. He was widely regarded as an excellent professional manager who brought order to the state’s salmon recovery strategy in the wake of federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) intervention to protect Chinook salmon. His resignation was greeted by Tony Floor, sport industry spokesman and former WDFW employee, who stated for the Seattle Times, “We couldn’t move forward (with Koenings).”

    The commission replaced Koenings with Phil Anderson, a former sport charter boat fisherman and a long time Fish and Wildlife employee. His educational credentials at the time consisted of community college attendance. As the director of a major state agency, he was hired in by the commission at a recommended salary of $141,000 per year.

    In the wake of such political hardball and patronage, the state now has a commission that pursues narrow policies tailored for the recreational sector. A good example of this emphasis is the Delayed Release Chinook Program.

    Under this WDFW program designed to create a year round Puget Sound sport fishery, chinook are held in aquaculture facilities for extended, expensive rearing. When released, these voracious feeders are designed to stay resident in Puget Sound rather than follow their natural migratory instinct to the Pacific.The ecological impact of this program on resident species and wild salmon smolts, such as ESA-listed chinook, has not been researched.

    However, the state auditor’s office did estimate the fiscal impact of the Delayed Release Program to the state’s taxpayers. Each of these fish caught on a sport rod cost state taxpayers $768. Moreover, these boutique, resident fish feed in polluted estuaries such as the Duwamish and Commencement Bay and test at elevated levels for persistent toxins such as the fire retardant PBDE. At least one study has shown a direct correlation between length of Puget Sound residency and levels of PBDE in resident Chinook.

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    Posted Thu, Jan 31, 7:42 a.m. Inappropriate

    "Our salmon are gillnet-caught" -- Loki Fish website

    So you are a gill-netter. Well, change is coming. If you are unhappy with the CCA efforts to reduce indiscriminate gill-net fishing in the Columbia river, you need to rethink your business model and consider more selective fishing techniques.


    Posted Thu, Jan 31, 8:34 a.m. Inappropriate

    No problem with the tribal exemption? What's the matter, professor, foes the Party prohibit you from pointing a finger at such a cherished campaign contributor?


    Posted Thu, Jan 31, 8:59 a.m. Inappropriate

    Good morning Bluelight and Bert.
    If it wasnt for the tribes we wouldnt have much of a salmon resource left. Their treaty right are about the only check on wanton destruction of our watersheds and salmon habitat.

    Bert: The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) came to Washington State from the Gulf Coast a few years ago. They were founded by the heir to the Exxon fortune, Walter Fondren III and wealthy sportsmen in Houston, Texas. Their major project has not been conservation but attempts to destroy coastal commercial fishing communities. These communities are obstacles to the operation of the oil industry and other industrial water users because they have legal standing to sue. That is why they are targeted. A good book on the CCA's origins and tactics in the Gulf Coast is Wetland Riders by Robert Fritchey. The CCA's legislative priorities for 2012 were 1-opening national public lands to motorized vehicles and 2-opposing restrictions on the use of lead shot. They are not a conservation organization. You will never find them oppossing BP, Exxon or, more locally, the coal train export plan. If you as a sport fisherman are working with them and you care about the long-term health of the resource, you are making a deal with devil.

    As to selectivity of fishing gear, I suggest you look at the data. UW Professor Emeritus Stephen Mathews reviewed extensively all the bycatch studies done by the Pacific Salmon Commission and others. He concluded that the Puget Sound gillnet fishery has extremely low levels of bycatch is very clean. His work is available at www.soundcatch.org, the Puget Sound Salmon Commission website.

    Whether commercial or sport gear, any fishing gear can be used in a non-selective way. Hook and release sport fising mortality rates for salmon can be well over 50% according to the California studies cited by the Pacific Salmon Committee's Chinook Technical Committee, which is online if you care to look.

    On the Columbia, the bycatch impacts of the non-treaty gillnet fishery was less than that of the sport fishery.


    Pete Knutson


    Posted Thu, Jan 31, 9:11 a.m. Inappropriate

    "If it wasnt for the tribes we wouldnt have much of a salmon resource left. Their treaty right are about the only check on wanton destruction of our watersheds and salmon habitat."

    Yah. So the political cartel would have us believe. Even as our rivers are netted dead.


    Posted Thu, Jan 31, 9:50 a.m. Inappropriate

    Seems to me that the fish in our rivers represent a commons, that should be approached for the benefit of us all. That's how they're supposed to be handled according to our laws. But as I've followed this issue, that commons has been grabbed by a narrow special-interest constituency, fueled in part by out of state big-money interests like those backing CCA. They've pushed out people representing different interests in the state, or different perspectives. And they've ignored scientific researchers like Matthews, who have spent the bulk of their professional lives exploring the impact of different approaches on the salmon.

    The solution to me, as Knutson suggests, is to have the commission represent all the interests in our state, and not just a narrow few, and to base their actions on the verified science and not just on what those narrow interests would prefer.


    Posted Thu, Jan 31, 11:12 a.m. Inappropriate

    Certainly many of us were not optimistic when CCA led the hounding of Director Koenings from his post, but I must say that Phil Anderson has done a good job, particularly when one considers the pressures and expectations of some groups.
    It is quite offensive how one still hears bleating about "nets in the rivers" and gratuitous swipes at the Treaty fisheries.
    Having spent several decades working on salmon recovery, and seen what is happening on the water, it is unsettling to hear that persistent ignorance and bigotry. We could not have made anything like the progress we have without the full participation and leadership of the tribes.
    Any fishery can have rule-breakers. I would suggest that looking to one's own first might be in order.


    Posted Thu, Jan 31, 10:18 p.m. Inappropriate

    Bravo, Mr. Knutson.

    Posted Thu, Jan 31, 11:48 p.m. Inappropriate

    Sorry, Mr. Knutson, you are mistaken. The referenced study does not refer to sport caught salmon. See for yourself.


    However, Stephen Mathews does compare the rate of bycatch mortalities for chum salmon caught with gillnets versus purse seiners. In fact the study was commissioned by the Puget Sound Salmon Commission whose goals is to further the interests of the gillnet fishermen and "increase the sale and use of Puget Sound gillnet salmon in local, domestic, and foreign markets."

    You wish to preserve gillnets not salmon.


    Posted Fri, Feb 1, 8:38 a.m. Inappropriate

    Bert: the reference you want for sport hook and release mortality rates is at http://www.psc.org/publications_tech_techcommitteereport.htm, the homepage for the Pacific Salmon Commission scientific work. Scroll down to the pdf titled TCChinook (97)-1 "Incidental Fishing Mortality". On Page 21, you will see the mortality rates for hook and release mooching studies. Between 58% and 73% of all the hook and released sport fish caught with mooching technique are killed, according to a three year study. Unfortunately, WDFW currently promotes mooching as a sport technique on its home page.

    My main concern is to preserve salmon and the public access to the public resource. My customers at Seattle Farmers' Markets, at food co-ops and supermarkets have every bit as much right to enjoy wild salmon as those of you who can afford the boat, gear and fossil fuel and have the free time to go out on the water as a sport fisherman. It is a public resource and they support it as citizens. Why should they be shut out from Columbia River King salmon for the exclusive benefit of a relatively small group?

    As far as gillnets go, they have many advantages because they are selective in the water due to the ability to vary mesh size. (the NW Indian Fisheries Commission has a good video on their website which illustrates this). Professor Mathews' literature review of the research at the site you reference demonstrates the low bycatch of that gillnet gear type, when properly managed.
    If selectivity can occur in the water, as opposed to on the vessel as with sport techniques, there is far less injury.


    Posted Fri, Feb 1, 9:56 a.m. Inappropriate

    A valuable resource such as salmon isn't for CCA alone. We all know that it belongs to the general public not just those who want to go out leisurely to get a catch. Why should this resource be limited to one user group like the CCA? Your Mother, your daughter, and even your Aunt or Uncle deserve to have the freedom of choice. Gill-Net caught salmon is very selective gear. We don't pick on you for how you torture the salmon all the way up or down stream with a hook in it's mouth and sometimes in it's stomach, now do we? Your way can be very inhumane and most the time you don't eat your catch, you play with it. You can't sell your catch nor can you give it away, but does it happen? I know it does and it's illegal. Why should someone who is not willing or unable to go out sportfishing have to suffer not reaping the benefits of having a fresh caught salmon on their dinner plate? It's greed, and selfishness. America wasn't built on those things, but your certainly making it that way. Remember this if you don't want to remember at all; It's a public resource, not just for YOU! Commercial fishermen provide the public with access specially Gill-Netters. Amen to that!


    Posted Fri, Feb 1, 10:41 a.m. Inappropriate

    Back in the Biblical days there were commercial fishermen and they fished with nets, remember Peter, Andrew, James, and John were commercial fishermen. Salmon resource isn’t for just people who want to play with their food; as a child I was brought up not to play with mine. Why should 99% suffer for the 1% to have their fun; at the end time men shall be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of god.
    (II Timothy 3:1-5,7)


    Posted Fri, Feb 1, 11:09 a.m. Inappropriate

    pknuts: Do you remember the old game called "Whack-A-Mole"? That's what this seems like. First, you point somewhere vague and I have to chase down some a poorly referenced document and then you point somewhere else and I am expected to find some other pointless thing. Well enough already.

    Everything that I've read from you is fluff. You may call them studies, I call them marketing brochures.

    Truly, the Puget Sound Salmon Commission is a lobbying organization which produces position papers written by proponents of the commercial fishing industry with particular emphasis on the gill-net fisheries. They are not scientific documents from independent sources. They present no peer reviewed data that has been validated in any way.

    Gillnet fishing is a form of state subsidised welfare that drains the resources of this region to support a small group of individuals who expect handouts from the government. Gillnet fisherman would be better served by joining all citizens to work for the recovery of wild fish in the Pacific NW.


    Posted Fri, Feb 1, 9:01 p.m. Inappropriate

    You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Gillnet fishing is a very viable and valuable fishing industry. There is no handout, as far as I see it right now the only handout is being given to the recreational. Your dollars are discretionary. Gillnet catch is new money to the economy; sit on that why don't you. Discretionary money happens all day long, but it's the new money that creates benefits to our weakening economy. Do you know that our commercial dollars goes into the general fund, which helps with schools, roads, and police; just to name a few. You want to be mad about any kind of welfare, its corporate welfare that drowns this country. Get a clue.


    Posted Fri, Feb 1, 10:38 p.m. Inappropriate

    "Gillnet fishing is a form of state subsidised welfare that drains the resources of this region to support a small group of individuals who expect handouts from the government."-Bert

    Bert, your above characterization couldn't be more inaccurate! Commercial fishing folks are some of the hardest-working and most unassuming folks you'll ever have the pleasure to meet. Call us what you will (and we are, at least some of us, probably many of those things), but a bunch of state-subsidized handout-expecters we most certainly aren't! The people of region understand this and that's why they time and again vote against net bans, whether on the Columbia or for Puget Sound. The commercial fishermen of Washington are the means by which 90 plus percent of the state's population access our state's fishery resources, and the public wants us to maintain that access.

    I spent almost 30K buying my puget sound gillnet permit ten years ago and have since paid probably 5K to WDFW in renewals and fees. Maintenance, outfitting and retrofitting my boat alone puts 10's of thousands of dollars per year into the ballard economy. The two main gillnet fisheries in which I participate in Puget Sound target Fraser River Sockeye and South Sound Chum. These are wild salmon runs that by-and-large do not require state subsidies. If I'm your idea of a state welfare recipient, I'd like to hear what you call a sport guy fishing on 800-taxpayer-dollars-a-fish delayed release chinook!

    Also, I think you're getting the Puget Sound Salmon Commission confused with the Pacific Salmon Commission.




    Posted Fri, Feb 8, 2:41 p.m. Inappropriate

    Good points, Bert.

    Posted Fri, Feb 1, 11:42 a.m. Inappropriate

    Pete, This is a very good presentation of the facts. Thanks for speaking up for over 99% of the population of this state. This group does not sport fish, we get our locally harvested seafood via commercial fishermen, we need and appreciate you. Did you know since 1971 to 2006 there was a 62% decrease per capita in wash state sport salmon catch cards issued ? Keep up the presure we need you more than ever.


    Posted Fri, Feb 1, 12:41 p.m. Inappropriate

    I think the people who are vehemently opposed to gillnet fishing, are really just uneducated about it. If they looked at the actual data, approached the allocation issue in fairness to all, walked a mile in the shoes of a gillnetter, and set their own greed aside long enough to form opinions from fact, fairness and science; there might not be such a spilt on views.
    Most gillnetters I know have friends and family that sport fish - they aren't so pompous as to expect 100% allocation. They live modestly, are raising families, work long hard hours AND they are supplying the public with our very own natural resources. Their permits, boats and gear represents many thousands of hard earned dollars . To come up with a plan that effectively puts them out of business unless they completely re-tool to a type of fishing that is still at this point illegal, is just wrong on so many points I find it unconscionable.
    We really need a fish commission that has fair representation from all points of view and that work together collaboratively.

    Posted Fri, Feb 8, 2:42 p.m. Inappropriate

    Good points, Lori.

    Posted Fri, Feb 1, 2:19 p.m. Inappropriate

    This issue isn't only about salmon. The Fish and Wildlife Commission is shutting off public access Puget Sound Spot Prawns as well. As of December 15 this year the FWC decreed that 70% of the state's share of spot prawns would go to recreational fishers. For the previous 15 years the agency had sought to maintain a 40-60% split, with recreationals getting 60%. Sixty percent wasn't enough, they complained that because of the growing popularity of the sports fishery they deserved 75% of the catch. The Commission gave them 70%. As a consumer that means two things. Local caught fresh spot prawns will be available for 8 weeks instead of 13 and the price is going to be quite a bit higher if you can find them. A huge win for elite boat-owners and an equally huge loss for commercial fishermen and their consumers.


    Posted Fri, Feb 1, 2:21 p.m. Inappropriate

    Great article Pete. I am a commercial fisherman from NC who fought a "gamefish" bill that was going to make it illegal for consumers to buy Speckled Trout, Red Drum, and Striped Bass that were harvested from our state's waters. This bill was designed to cause TONS of seafood to be wasted as commercial fishermen were forced to discard every one of these “gamefish” we caught while targeting other legal fish. This waste was intended to lead to a ban on any fishery that interacted with one of those three delicious and abundant fish. We stopped that bill (HB-353) from becoming law because enough NC citizens let their state legislators know they opposed it and wanted to keep their freedom to access our public resources. We have power in numbers. Those of you in Washington who want to keep your freedom to access your public resources need to let your legislators know.

    If the CCA is so concerned about the fish, maybe they should support a law limiting catch and discard fishing to the legal bag limit. As the term "gamefish" implies, CCA members view fish as little more than toys. They would take your freedom to eat these fish because they think it will make their toys bigger and easier to play with. The CCA only represents a small minority of recreational fishermen. Most recreational fishermen are honorable outdoorsmen who do not support destroying commercial fishermen’s lives or denying you access to local seafood because they think it will help them have more fun.

    Check out www.freefish7.com to learn more about fishery issues.


    Posted Fri, Feb 1, 4:58 p.m. Inappropriate

    Chris McCaffity (freefish7) says: "... TONS of seafood to be wasted as commercial fishermen were forced to discard every one of these “gamefish” we caught while targeting other legal fish."

    No one forced you to net those fish. Please take personal responsibility for your own actions. You wasted TONS of seafood.


    Posted Fri, Feb 1, 8:13 p.m. Inappropriate

    Your a fool, because of your lack of truth in the matter. You really need to stop, because it's better to be thought of as a fool, than to open your uneducated comments and remove all doubts. Nothing wasted, because citizens of NC knew best.


    Posted Sat, Feb 2, 7:34 a.m. Inappropriate

    Bert, I said. "This bill (referring to the gamefish bill, HB-353) was designed to cause TONS of seafood to be wasted as commercial fishermen were forced to discard every one of these “gamefish” we caught while targeting other legal fish." The bill did NOT become law and this malicious CCA plot was foiled. Consumers are still FREE to buy the Speckled Trout, Red Drum and Striped Bass that commercial fishermen responsibly harvest from NC waters. Gillnets are used to harvest most of these fish. Gillnets are far more selective than a hook and line when it comes to size limits. Undersized fish pass through unharmed. It is when a species is made illegal to keep at all (gamefish) that most regulatory discards occur in gillnet fisheries.

    You said. "No one forced you to net those fish. Please take personal responsibility for your own actions. You wasted TONS of seafood." Gillnet fishermen in NC are NOT forced to waste TONS of seafood because enough commercial fishermen, seafood consumers, concerned citizens and honorable recreational fishermen spoke up. Why don't CCA "sportsmen" take responsibility for their discard mortality by supporting a law limiting catch and discard fishing to the legal bag limit?


    Posted Sat, Feb 2, 5:38 p.m. Inappropriate

    there is no reply box to your below post, so i post here. Yes I would, and yes this is how to accomplish things.
    all commercial harvesters, processors, distributors, the consumers and the culinary industry, need to band together. what platform do you propose?

    Posted Mon, Feb 4, 8 a.m. Inappropriate

    You are exactly right Luke. We need everyone who has anything to do with harvesting, processing, selling, cooking, and eating wild-caught seafood to get involved.

    I started an online radio show to give us a voice we can use to inform the public and a website to offer positive solutions people can support. I am hoping to get Pete on the show soon and you are welcome as well. There is a place to post comments on the radio show blog. I want people like you to post a concise statement explaining the problem and offer a positive solution along with contact information for the relevant public servants. I want people that do the interviews to support the other fishermen's solutions and post a link to the interview on their FB page and anywhere else people will see it. We can use the power of the internet to unite people across America in peaceful defense of our God-given freedom to fish and eat wild seafood. Knowledge is POWER and we have POWER in numbers. Check out the Radio Show Blog page on my website. www.freefish7.com You can contact me directly through the comment box on the Membership and Contact page.


    Posted Fri, Feb 1, 8 p.m. Inappropriate

    the only game fish we are talking about here are steelhead... you need to educate yourself, those fish were legally harvested, and sold by the commercial fleet for over a century, only recently have you greedy sportys lobbied for 100% allocation of the steelhead about a generation ago. You are the reason these fish are ever wasted, there is no commercial fisherman around that doesn't feel ill every time we are forced to discard a dead fish because you greedy little piggies for some reason feel the need to have exclusive rights to a species.
    On top of this we have state observers that we cannot deny, aboard our vesells, that record and document these unfortunate moralities, and our harvests are highly managed in a way that shuts them down regardless of legal harvest, when these moralities reach a maximum acceptable level set by the states managers we get shut down.
    Now Having that said, when "food fish" and "sport fish" were segregated, the agreement was you sporties get sport fish, and we get the food fish for commercial ventures. for the the last decade or so you greedy little self absorbed pigs (disguised in a very thin sheet with the word conservation written on it) continue to encroach upon the food fish allocation. well this my friend is a breech of contract. ignorant greedy people like yourself have ignited a fire this time.
    what has happened with this unwarranted bold greedy fish grab will backlash on you, to put this in terms you can understand, you have "taken aim and cast your level wind rod and reel too far, right now you have your thumb completely free of the spool, and it looks like its going to be a successful cast.... whats coming backlash.
    Oh.. by the way while you relish in your seeming victory, check out the compact fact sheet of Jan 30 2013.. oh what? it is open for commercial gill-netting today for white sturgeon?
    I have read the above delusions here is some reality for all you short minded that can't look back before yesterday or forward of tomorrow.
    fact, 1884 42 million pounds harvested
    fact, 1911 49.5 million pounds harvested
    fact, 1912 27.5 million pounds harvested
    fact, 1914 38.5 million pounds harvested
    fact, 1915 42.7 million pounds harvested
    fact, 19 16-1919 40+million pounds harvested,
    fact, 19 37 24.7 million pounds harvested
    how many of those fish harvested were sport harvested?
    fact, fisheries were managed separately by wash and org before 1918
    fact, fisheries were managed jointly via Columbia compact recognized by congress in 1918 to this day

    for 50 + years the harvest went through natural ups and downs between 25 and 50 mill sustainable harvest, that's 12 + generations of fish.
    fact, the fish runs are now in their death throws have produced 1-5 million pound harvests per year for the last few decades. mostly hatchery fish
    you can't point the finger at just one bullet of many in a corpse and and cry "murderer".
    Who killed the fish??? Either management has allowed over harvest in a very consistent manner for the last eighty years or its something else... Ill save you the reading to find who's holding the smoking gun. You, me, everybody that built and enjoy this modern world we live in. It is non conducive to salmon survival. Loss of habitat, herbicides, pesticides, prescription meds casually dumped down the drain, or your mouth and then down the drain with a flush, toxic runoff from residential areas, fertilizers, Walmart Kmart and auto-zone that wetland mitigated with big dollars so they can sit atop that little creek that used to be spawning grounds for just a couple dozen fish, open your eyes, look at hwy 14 and others along the Columbia that lop off large shallow bends of the river turning them into ponds and lakes, the smolt need these areas to survive. fish do not thrive in a gutter, they enter the pacific arena malnourished and beat up. hint: big fish eat little fish. And the dams, its extra mortality each way, and for many dams for a long time- total mortality.
    I'm sick of being you sportys spouting off that the commercial guys are the villains.
    do you think gilnetters wanted those dams?
    do you think gilnetters need or wanted all that stuff listed above?
    No, but the general population does, and that is who killed the once majestic fish run on this river.
    Measure 81 would have been a death sentence, the "kidfolpper plan" is life in prison if implemented.
    One more thing and listen close skip jack,,, I would rather get a death sentence by the people than life in prison by a dictator. Don't you ever forget that. the way this "plan" was constructed and implemented was corrupt and possibly fraudulent, it a discrace to the people. 8% of Oregonians own sport licences, and less in Washington.
    Both are on a decline.
    You sporties have never done anything to protect the fish, you certainly did not run your boats up the river and raft up in protest to the dams that lead to these hatchery fish we now squabble over.
    take a reality check of your history and your involvement with the industry before you lay claims or spout off "half cocked".

    Posted Fri, Feb 1, 9:49 p.m. Inappropriate

    Luke -

    You got the wrong end of the stick. Please read my comments again. (Posted Fri, Feb 1, 4:58 p.m.) I know it is difficult to keep track because there are several threads of conversation going on. I was responding to comments by Chris (freefish7) regarding his experience in North Carolina.


    Posted Fri, Feb 1, 11 p.m. Inappropriate

    ah yes you are so true on one thing, and one thing only, I had not realized the topic had slipped of on a tangent, so sorry for my confusion. this does not justify, or validate any of your posts.
    They are obtuse and have no gravity. I would like to know what you do for a living, and why you feel the way you do.
    Pete, I commend you for your devotion.

    Posted Sat, Feb 2, 7:46 a.m. Inappropriate

    I'm not trying to go off on some tangent with my comments about our success against the CCA’s “gamefish” scam in NC. I am trying to encourage people to let their public servants know they want to keep their freedom to access their public resources. Knowledge is POWER and we have POWER in numbers. Enough people peacefully supporting or opposing an issue is the only thing that trumps money and special interest influence in politics.

    Commercial fishermen across America need to start working together if any of us are going to keep our freedom to fish much longer. We need to inform the public and give them easy ways to show support for their freedom to eat wild-caught American seafood. I will stand with you in support of your freedom to fish and my freedom to access Washington seafood through you. Will you stand with me?


    Posted Fri, Feb 1, 8:49 p.m. Inappropriate


    The Puget Sound Salmon Commission is not a lobbying organization. It is a commodities commission, like the commissions for wheat, apples and wine. Like those commissions it is chartered to work for the public interest in promoting our state's agricultural products. Actually, it is a state agency, organized and administered under the Department of Agriculture. You can read the marketing order for the Commission at Chapter 16-585 WAC, just google it. Commissioners are either appointed by the Director of Agriculture or elected by the Puget Sound gillnet permit holders.

    The salmon commission receives no subsidy from the taxpayers. It is entirely funded by a self-imposed 2% tax which the Puget Sound gillnet permitholders voted to assess. That tax is in addition to severance taxes and license fees. No other fishing group in the state, sport or commercial, has voted to impose taxes on themselves in order to promote puget sound salmon.

    The projects and the research funded by the Commission are public interest projects.

    For example, we recently completed a toxicology study of Puget Sound and Hood Canal keta salmon, working with UW professors, gillnet fishers and Select Fish Company. Using rigorous protocols, we tested many samples for PCB', PBDE's and mercury. The keta turned out to be extremely low in those persistent pollutants, unlike the State's delayed release chinook. That is important information which will have useful implications for salmon recovery.

    Likewise our bycatch analyses by Professor Mathews is also useful information as we develop new fishing strategies to mitigate unintended effects.

    Also, the Commission has developed a value-added program whereby salmon fishers can produce a better quality product, bled or dressed on-board, with immediate chilling. In this way, we intend to generate more revenue from fewer fish, which benefits everyone. Instead of simply selling fish into an export market, our fishers are increasingly. connecting with the local food economy to bring product into farmers' markets, chains such as Whole Foods and local restaurants. These are high quality, gillnet-caught, processed on board fish, with a very low carbon footprint since they are caught locally.

    Essentially, the cultural shift in our commercial industry away from commodity production and towards niche marketing is similar to what small farmers have done in marketing the farm product directly. The State Legislature supports our work and has instructed WDFW to assist our niche, local marketing. I can find the RCW if you're truly interested.

    If you're a citizen of Washington, you have the right to attend any of our Commission meetings. They are publicly announced through the Department of Agriculture. Rather than assume the worst about us, why don't you come and see how we operate. I think you'll find that the Commission and the fishermen who support it are ecologically responsible and merit your support.

    Full disclosure: I've been a Commissioner for the last decade and was just re-elected by a vote of Puget Sound fishermen.


    Pete Knutson


    Posted Fri, Feb 1, 10:05 p.m. Inappropriate

    pknuts -

    I disagree. The Puget Sound Salmon Commission is paid by gillnet fishermen to promote their product to government organizations. That is the very definition of a lobbyist. The name, Puget Sound Salmon Commission, is an oxymoron because the PSSC represents gillnet fishermen not the taxpayers and certainly not salmon.

    Since you are a Commissioner, you are also a lobbyist.

    You and I will never agree on this issue. While I appreciate that we have divergent opinions, it has been refreshing to exchange ideas without calling each other names. Although I consider lobbyist to be a dirty word :-)


    Posted Sat, Feb 2, 8:09 a.m. Inappropriate

    I don't understand why you would say they sell to government organizations. There is a huge movement where just regular ol' people want to "eat fresh-eat local". How are we, the consumers, supposed to get to eat fresh salmon without commercial fishermen? It's offensive to me that my options might be whittled down to farmed, Atlantic, genetically modified salmon because the commercial fishermen aren't being given a fair shake in Washington and Oregon.

    Posted Fri, Feb 8, 2:34 p.m. Inappropriate

    Many is the sports fisherman who has pushed off the catch on me and other acquaintances because taste for the sport far exceeds taste for the catch. Sometimes, alas only after an overstuffed freezer has caught their attention. This despite the fact that wild fish and shell fish have been through the ages and hopefully will continue to be essential to staving off human degeneration.


    Posted Fri, Feb 1, 11:14 p.m. Inappropriate

    Bert--again, I reiterate, why don't you come to a Commission meeting, or better yet, stop by a farmers' market (U District on Saturday, Ballard and West Seattle on Sunday) where my family sells our processed on board salmon products and see what we do. You can get a bright pink salmon for ten bucks.I'll sample you some great smoked salmon.

    Pete Knutson


    Posted Wed, Apr 10, 10:52 a.m. Inappropriate

    Pete has done some nice work here, and makes a good case that commercial harvesters are grossly under-represented on the Commission. Unfortunately, he is most certainly a lobbyist, and when it comes to gear group politics his work deteriorates into unsupportable propaganda.

    What is really needed in this state, as alluded to by other posters, is some way to unite commercial seafood harvesters so that the industry can gain the representation it deserves. To accomplish this new leadership will be required, and will not be found in the current leadership of either seiners or gillnetters.

    Jim Kyle

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