You're Not Wanted Here
A bipartisan group of Washington State lawmakers – 13 in the House of Representatives and ten in the Senate – have sponsored matching bills (SB 5844 and HB1660) to effectively eliminate commercial fishing in Washington State.
The legislators find that “…the state of Washington has the weather, infrastructure, amenities, location, and fisheries resources to become a world class sports fishing and tourism destination that attracts out-of-state tourism money to rural communities.”
This pandering to out of state discretionary income is intended to fill the coffers of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, which receives revenue from sport licenses, while commercial fishing revenues are realized in the form of taxes and economic multipliers. While the commercial fishery brings much more revenue to the state, some legislators aren’t clever enough to make the distinction. Instead, these legislators feel Washington’s fisheries resources “…are known worldwide for their high quality, culinary attributes, flavor, and dietary healthfulness. These attributes not only attract in-state and out-of-state sports fishers to Washington’s waters, but can be enjoyed by Washingtonians through the sizable commercial markets served by tribal fishers.”
Yes, apparently tribal fishers can cover the sizable commercial markets. Are you getting the picture?
These elected representatives further feel that the State of Washington should adopt the necessary policies to ensure that sports fishing tourism spending occurs here, rather than elsewhere, to reap “…the associated economic development opportunities, such as in the hospitality industry and with outfitters, guides, restaurants, car rental companies, retail stores, boat builders, and others.” For example, Mariott, Holiday Inn, Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Guide, Bass Pro Shops and Gamakatsu.
And of course your public servants believe that the state can’t compete with other popular sports fishing destinations “…unless the fish and wildlife commission prioritizes recreational harvest opportunities and establishes predictable and stable recreational fishing seasons that enable both state residents and visitors from around the country and around the globe…” to fish in Washington waters.
In other words, visitors from Dubai, Beijing and Moscow can be trusted to treat our resource gently, only catching the fish they’re supposed to, and gently returning small or non-targeted fish back to the river.
Your humble servants confirm this by noting “…recreational fisheries are capable of avoiding the harvest of endangered fish species through selective harvest practices, thereby often increasing access to harvestable populations. Current state policies often result in fisheries management decisions that constrain recreational fishing opportunities and seasons in favor of nontribal commercial fisheries incapable of selective harvest practices, thereby harming too many endangered fish and limiting access to harvestable populations.”
Finally, your faithful representatives believe that “…sports fishing is a billion dollar industry in Washington and the single largest source of funding to the department of fish and wildlife,” generating seventy-one million dollars from recreational fishing license sales, while “By comparison, the commercial fishing industry only generated one and one-half million dollars in funding over the same time period to the department of fish and wildlife…”
This last is clearly either stupidity or dishonesty. Washington’s non-tribal commercial fisheries provide more than 60 thousand jobs in Washington State and sales of more than $7.5 billion, compared to the recreational fishing industry, with sales of less than $5 million and providing fewer than 4,000 jobs. The sheer volume of money generated by you, the Washington State commercial fisherman, dwarfs the piddling $71 million dollars these ill-informed politicians hope to see from sport license sales.
And lest Alaskans reading this column feel they’re out of reach of the zealots, take a look at the assaults on setnetting in Cook Inlet. Your sport-fishing lobbyists are waiting to see how Washington’s gang of 23 does with their efforts.
If your lawmaker is on this list, let him know how you feel about his efforts to put you out of work. Go to http://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder to see who represents you, and make your voice heard. And next fall, use the ballot box to show him what you think of his job.
House Sponsors of HB1660
Hans Dunshee (D), Paul Harris (R), Ed Orcutt (R), Eric Pettigrew (D), Liz Pike (R), Gerry Pollet (D), Chris Reykdal (D), Jay Rodne (R), Elizabeth Scott (R), Joe Schmick (R), Derek Stanford (D), Steve Tharinger (D), Brandon Vick (R).
Senate Sponsors of SB5844
Jan Angel (R), John Braun (R), Steve Conway (D), Mike Hewitt (R), Marko Liias (D), Linda Evans Parlette (R), Kevin Ranker (D), Ann Rivers (R), Christine Rolfes (D), Judy Warnick (R).