Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

Vote Fish


What kind of governor wants to ruin your business? Well, West Coast governors, apparently. In California, Governor Jerry Brown (D) and California’s large corporate agribusinesses have proposed building two underground 35-mile and 40-foot wide tunnels to divert the Sacramento River to the southwest San Joaquin Valley.

Diverting the Sacramento River, which constitutes 80 percent of the freshwater flow into the San Francisco Bay Delta, would have a devastating effect on salmon populations, which nearly collapsed in 2008 after record high levels of water exports. Jerry Brown will term out in 2018, but he still has $20 million in his campaign fund he can use to promote his cause.

In Oregon, Governor Kate Brown (D), no relation, took office following the resignation of Governor John Kitzhaber, who, after closing the mainstem of the Columbia River to commercial gillnetters, resigned in disgrace amid a corruption scandal. Governor Brown has shown no interest in rectifying the issue, but she is up for reelection this year, and is opposed by Salem oncologist Bud Pierce (R), who might be willing to work with commercial gillnetters.

We endorse Bud Pierce for Oregon Governor.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has been working overtime to shut down his state’s commercial fishing industry. The closure of the Washington side of the Columbia was implemented by his predecessor, but without the proper procedure required by state law. Inslee let the closure stand, while working to close other fisheries, including the Willapa Bay commercial salmon fishery, as well as defunding hatcheries that serve the commercial fisheries.

Governor Inslee, whose term expires this year, is being challenged by Bill Bryant (R). Bryant has indicated a willingness to work with commercial and tribal fishermen to preserve the resource and keep hatcheries active.

We endorse Bill Bryant for Washington State Governor.

Alaska Governor Bill Walker (I), is faced with a severe budget shortfall. In February, in an effort to streamline administrative and research functions and cut costs, Governor Walker authorized the transfer of certain administrative functions from the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission (CFEC) to the Department of Fish and Game. His order was challenged in court by the United Fishermen of Alaska, and a superior court ruled in favor of the state. Governor Walker nevertheless issued a moratorium on the order, in order to “pursue input from Alaska’s commercial fishing industry after the conclusion of the fishing season this fall.” We applaud Governor Walker’s willingness to work with the commercial fishermen to reach an equitable conclusion.

Hawaii Governor David Ige (D) takes industry eradication to a whole new level. On August 24th, Governor Ige sent a letter to President Barack Obama conveying his support for the expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (see story on page 31 of this issue). Two days later, Obama approved the expansion and effectively closed the commercial fishery off the state of Hawaii. Recreational fisheries are still allowed- apparently Governor Ige feels, as Governor Inslee does, that recreational fishing is good for the resource.

We beg to differ.

The new borders are essentially the 200-mile EEZ around Hawaii, which means Hawaii’s longline fleet of roughly 140 boats must now compete with international fleets for the bigeye and yellowfin tuna, mahimahi, and blue marlin. Eating and catching fish is an integral part of Hawaiian culture, and the population consumes nearly three times more seafood annually than the rest of the country.

The size of the forbidden zone, 582,578 square miles, can be difficult to appreciate, so we did a little math. The area closed to commercial fishing can be compared to the area of the entire Eastern and Gulf Coast seaboard:

Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Plus the area of the state of Indiana.

Put simply, Hawaii Governor David Ige and President Barack Obama have closed an area the size of the Gulf of Mexico to the commercial fishermen of Hawaii.

This war on commercial fishing is being fought quietly and insidiously, and it can only be stopped at the ballot box.

At press time, President Obama had designated the first ever East Coast marine monument, 130 miles off the coast of Cape cod, in New England. Tiny by Hawaii’s standards at 4,913 square miles, it is only the beginning.

As Ben Franklin said, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

Vote fish next month, and urge your friends, family and neighbors to do the same.


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