Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

Closing the Fisheries


In late January, following the appointment of a sport fisherman from Idaho as the new director of the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) by the activist Washington Fish and Wildlife commission, three Pacific County, Washington commissioners sent a letter to the DFW, urging the commission to consider the value of the commercial fishery in Pacific County as they were considering regulations for Willapa Bay fisheries.

The county commissioners pointed out that while a recreational fishery is important and valuable to Pacific County, anglers “don’t buy their trucks and boats here.”

The commissioners further noted that while they don’t begrudge the sports fishermen their catch, “it’s important to keep in mind the economic value of the commercial fleet.”

In South Bend, for example, a local cannery paid close to a million dollars to local commercial fishermen and agents in support of their seasonal 60 full-time employees and half-million dollar payroll.

“This is significant considering our little 22,000 population is at the bottom on just about every state­wide county economic and social/health statistic.” The commissioners wrote, “We are hurting down here and any attempt to basically eviscerate the commercial fishing enterprise is just brutal.”

In response, after more than two years, Washington Governor Jay Inslee filled two vacant seats on the Fish and Wildlife commission- with another sport fisherman and another environmentalist. Last month the carefully-crafted commission reduced the allowable harvest of Chinook in Willapa bay from 37 percent, to just 14 percent. This change has all but eliminated the Chinook fishery, which has been a staple for the local communities in Pacific County.

As the commissioners predicted, the commercial fishing in their county has been eviscerated by a commission stacked with environmental and sport interests who serve at the pleasure of Governor Jay Inslee and seem intent destroying the state’s commercial fisheries.


At press time we were saddened by the passing of vessel designer, author and artist James A. Cole.

Jim was a marine designer who started in the industry with renowned naval architect Philip F. Spaulding, and over an almost 60-year career he worked with many of the best naval architects and marine designers in the Pacific Northwest. My father, Richard Philips, who edited Fishermen’s News from 1973 to 1986, was a good friend of Mr. Cole’s and even years after my father’s passing, my brother, Peter and I referred to Jim as “Mr. Cole” because that was the name we learned when we were 10 and 11 years old.

Jim was also a good writer and a very talented artist, and his illustrated monthly columns in Fishermen’s News over several years gave him the impetus to write the book he had been preparing for 40 years. That book, Drawing on our History, was published in 2013, to great and well-deserved acclaim. His talent, good humor and calm demeanor will be missed, and we at Philips wish him fair winds and following seas.


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