Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

Fish Less, Pay More

 

Chris Philips

This photo was taken on Friday, August 5th at Seattle's Fishermen's Terminal. We have been either a tenant or neighbor to Fishermen's Terminal since the early 1990s, and we can't remember ever seeing it this empty.

The good news is that the boats that use the Terminal were out making a living, catching wild seafood in Puget Sound to share with the region's landlocked consumers. The bad news is that Governor Jay Inslee and his Fish and Wildlife Commission would prefer that commercial fishermen ply their trade somewhere other than Washington State.

In late August, Governor Inslee appeared in a debate against challenger Bill Bryant. Mr. Bryant several times mentioned concern for the state's salmon populations, and said he wants to pull together tribal, commercial and sport fisherman to come up with a plan to restore fish for the benefit of the state's residents. Governor Inslee pointedly avoided the issue, focusing instead on raising the state minimum wage and mandating offering paid family leave.

He most likely avoided the subject because Governor Inslee has spent the last four years promoting an environmentalist agenda, and working toward the dismantling of the in-state commercial fishery, from pots to gillnets. According to the Seattle Times, even before Governor Inslee took office, environmental groups were promoting him as "the greenest governor" in the country.

His environmental activist supporters consider commercial fishing to be medieval and messy, believing wild fish should be preserved for people who have the money and time to fish as a leisure activity.

To this end, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has established an initiative entitled "Washington's Wild Future: A Partnership for Fish and Wildlife" (wdfw.wa.gov/wildfuture). Part of the initiative calls for increasing commercial fishing license fees.

In case anyone is still curious as to the Governor's opinion of the resident Washington commercial fishing fleet, the proposed fee increases on the website should make his position extremely clear.

Of 49 categories, the proposed increase is at the expense of the resident commercial fisherman in all but 6, while the non-resident fisherman's fee stays the same or is reduced. In the six instances where the non-resident fee also goes up, it only goes up by a fraction, while the corresponding resident fisherman has to shoulder a big increase.

On average, resident commercial fishermen, that is to say taxpayers and voters in Washington State, would see their fees increase by an average of 17 percent, while non-resident commercial fishermen would see their fees reduced by an average of 3 percent.

Why is the state penalizing resident harvesters while courting non-resident boats? How do the environmental and sport lobbyists benefit from this tactic? Can you and your business survive another four years of this?

Make your feelings known to the state by visiting the website. Make your feelings known to Governor Inslee by voting on November 8th. Ask your friends and family to support Washington State commercial fishermen this year, and let your local representatives know what the State of Washington and the Governor think of the resident, revenue-producing commercial fishermen. The alternative is a Fishermen's Terminal full of boats for sale.

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

 
 

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