Hope Springs Eternal
We received quite a bit of feedback, all of it positive, to our coverage of the January West Coast crab tie-up. Crabbers and other fishermen are having a tough time on the West Coast, and the solidarity shown by the crabbers is a breath of fresh air.
While it’s too soon to be turning cartwheels, the good news from the West Coast crabbers and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is finally something for the “win” column.
In this issue, Terry Dillman discusses the disaster declared for nine West Coast salmon and crab fisheries, and we note that Washington State Governor Jay Inslee was happy to ask for Federal money for the fishermen he’s trying to put out of business.
A colleague noted that when nature devastates a fishery, it’s considered a disaster. When the state does the same thing to the gillnetters it’s called a “policy.”
In California, almonds are the state’s largest tree nut crop in total dollar value and acreage, and California’s second largest commodity after dairy. Blue Diamond Growers, founded in 1910 and producing 80 percent of the world’s almonds, is proud to have led the development of California’s almond industry from a minor domestic specialty crop to the world leader in almond production and marketing.
Almond trees use a lot of water (one gallon per almond, or 10 percent of the state’s water supply), and California Governor Edmund G. “Moonbeam” Brown is happy to get them as much as they need, at the expense of the salmon harvesters, who have been doing what they do since Pliny the Elder, a Roman scholar, first wrote about old-world salmon in 77 AD.
Coho salmon were commercially harvested in Pescadero and San Gregorio Creeks in San Mateo County in the 1860s, and 183,000 pounds of salmon were canned in 1888 near Duncan’s Mills on the Russian River in Sonoma County. The loss of salmon is another “man-caused disaster,” one that taxpayers will help underwrite at both ends, giving both water and subsidies to the almond farmers, who harvested a record 2.05 billion pounds of almonds in 2016, compared to 1.86 billion pounds in 2015, and the previous record of 2.03 billion pounds in 2011.
The State of Oregon, bucking the trend, gave that state’s gillnetters a reprieve of sorts, with a 4-3 vote against banning commercial gillnetters in the main channel of the lower Columbia River.
The Oregon commission listened to more than six hours of statements and staff reports on the issue, including testimony by second and third-generation fishermen who warned of the devastation the ban would bring to the local communities – data the Washington Commission ignored when they implemented their commercial ban a week earlier.
Under the Oregon commission’s plan, 80 percent of spring and summer wild chinook will be granted to recreational fishermen, but the remaining 20 percent can be harvested by commercial harvesters. The plan will split the fall chinook harvest, with 66 percent for the sport groups and 34 percent for commercial fishermen.
Hats off to the Oregon commissioners, who apparently care more for the state’s consumers of wild seafood than they do for political favoritism. California and Washington’s policy perpetrators could learn a lot from the ODFW.