Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

By Chris Philips
Managing Editor 

Unwelcome

 


Last month the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife held a series of regional meetings in Selah, Spokane Valley, Mill Creek, Lacey, Vancouver and Wenatchee. The state held the meetings to allow stakeholders to provide input on the “values and priorities that should drive the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) over the next several years,” and “discuss fishing and hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities, as well as habitat protection and restoration, licensing, enforcement, and other fish and wildlife management issues.”

Were you invited to one of these? Me neither.

The meetings were part of “a new multi-year initiative to strengthen the department’s relationships with communities, increase support for conservation and outdoor recreation, and help ensure WDFW programs and services meet the public’s needs.”

Commercial interests weren’t invited, but I attended anyway. The meeting began with a slide show of environmental threats to the state’s fish, including runoff from roads and pesticides from gardens and farms. Following the slide show, State Fish and Wildlife Director Jim Unsworth stood and addressed the room of anglers, assuring them that he loves the sport as much as they do, and wants to hear from them on how the state should manage the resource.

Although there was no time set aside for Director Unsworth to answer questions, I was able to get one in before he left for the evening. I asked the Director why the commercial fleet hadn’t been invited.

“They were,” he said. “Everyone is invited.”

I pointed out that commercial fishermen were notably excluded from the list of people from whom the state wanted to hear, and asked him if the industry can expect a series of sessions so that the State might learn of their concerns. He reiterated that commercial fishermen were welcome at the sport and environmental event, even though they hadn’t been technically invited. He was then led away by a handler.

Later this year, WDFW will summarize the comments and suggestions from those who were invited, as well as input from outdoor organizations, advisory groups, tribes, anglers, hunters, outdoor recreation groups, state and local elected officials and others interested in fish and wildlife in Washington.

Apparently the $3.9 billion generated by Washington’s commercial fishing industry, accounting for more than 2 percent of the state’s net earnings, isn’t enough to get the commercial fishermen a seat at the table.

If you would like to participate in the conversation, you can contact the Director’s office at (360) 902-2200 or director@dfw.wa.gov.

chris philips can be reached at: 206-284-8285 or email: editor@fishermensnews.com

 
 

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