Two nonprofit organizations announced their support for a proposed ballot measure to stop commercial gillnet fishing on the lower Columbia River.
The Humane Society of the United States and Oregon Wild endorsed the measure sponsored by the Stop Gillnetting Now coalition, which is headed for the November ballot.
“Gillnets are indiscriminate, catching and killing endangered wild salmon, as well as other marine life, such as seals, beavers and seabirds,” said Scott Beckstead, Oregon state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “Animal welfare groups in Europe and Australia are fighting the deadly impacts of gillnets and we wholeheartedly support this local measure to enhance salmon recovery and to protect other creatures from harm.”
If approved by voters, the measure would prohibit the use of commercial gillnet fishing on the lower Columbia River. The measure provides for alternatives, such as purse seine nets, for those that currently fish with gillnets. Unlike gillnets, seine nets allow for the selective catch of targeted hatchery salmon while allowing for the unharmed release of wild salmon, steelhead and other marine life.
“Oregon Wild was a key player in the early fight to protect endangered salmon in the Columbia River and we know it’s going to take a multi-pronged approach to recover this iconic species,” said Sean Stevens, Oregon Wild Executive Director. “With all of the efforts underway to bring native salmon back, it makes sense for Oregon to join a growing worldwide movement to transition to a more sustainable method.”
The addition of the Humane Society of the United States and Oregon Wild show the diversity of organizations and growing concern over gillnet impacts on fish and wildlife. Other groups supporting the measure include the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), the Association of Northwest Steelheaders, the Northwest Sportsfishing Industry Association, the Northwest Guides and Anglers Association and the American Sportsfishing Association.
Chief petitioners are David Schamp of CCA, Republican state senator Fred Girod and Democratic state senator Rod Monroe.
Supporters need just over 87,000 valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot.
More information on the measure can be found at www.stopgillnetting.com.