FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PORTLAND, Ore. February 9, 2017 —Governor Kate Brown called the January 20 Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission’s decision abandoning the Columbia River Fisheries Reform Plan “confusing”, “untenable”, and not “acceptable.” Governor Brown gave the commission until April 3 to change its decision and to “honor the commitments” made in the Reform Plan.
This new direction from the governor is welcome by the sport fishing community, who encourages her to continue the pressure on the commission until it fully implements the Columbia River Reforms jointly put in place by Oregon and Washington under the leadership of her predecessor.
Bob Rees, executive director for the Association of Northwest Steelheaders was cautiously optimistic, but deliberate in stating that the commission members who voted against the Reform Plan’s sport fishing priority will not sway easily, and the governor will have to keep a watchful eye on the proceedings. “We’re happy to see that Governor Brown is listening to the sport fishing and conservation public, but her leadership cannot end with this letter. In order for this to work, we still need a majority vote by this commission to implement the Reform Plan and adhere to the intent of SB 830,” Rees said.
Sport anglers also remain focused on the removal of Bruce Buckmaster from the commission after Governor Brown promised action if he attempted to derail the agreed upon policy. No action has been taken despite a petition asking Governor Brown for his removal that has to date, garnered over 3,000 signatures
Legislators also weighed in on the governor’s letter: Following a pointed floor speech by Representative Bill Kennemer on February 3, he commented on the news from the governor’s office. “I’m committed to seeing this process work for the sport anglers of Oregon. The social and economic contributions of the sport fleet are too great for Oregonians to ignore the benefits of adopting concurrent regulations with Washington, we should settle for no less than that.”
Enacted in 2013, Senate Bill 830 ratified the Columbia River Reform Plan, which was developed under Governor John Kitzhaber in order to prioritize sport fishing and remove non-tribal gillnet fishing from the main stem Columbia River. Sport fishing and conservation groups are opposed to commercial gillnet fishing because the gill nets cannot distinguish between federally protected wild salmon and steelhead and hatchery-raised fish.
Governor Brown’s Letter: