The tribes with treaty fishing rights on the Columbia River have voted to oppose a Nov. 6 ballot measure that would ban the commercial fishing practice of gillnetting.
Measure 81 is backed by a coalition of environmentalists and sport fisherman, who say gillnetting is barbaric and cuts into the number of salmon recreational anglers can hook.
But the ban won't get the support of the Yakama, Umatilla, Warm Springs or Nez Perce tribes, who voted Aug. 28 to oppose the ban.
"Ballot Measure 81 does not save fish or fishing communities,” N. Kathryn Brigham, chairwoman of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, said in a statement released this morning. “All it does is reshuffle who gets to catch the fish in the Lower Columbia. It doesn’t change how many fish can be caught and it doesn’t help rebuild salmon runs."
The tribes' resolution describes the gillnet ban as a power grab by sport fishermen—and a diversion tactic from salmon restoration projects.
"Measure 81... is based on an allegation that gillnets and gillnet fisheries are causing salmon declines, a divisive claim that does not stand up to the scientific scrutiny of tribal and other scientists from state and federal government," the resolution reads. "[I]its purpose is to shift salmon allocations from Oregon’s non-tribal commercial fisheries to sports fisheries... [I]t distracts the public from the real cause of salmon decline, habitat decline and degradation, that are being addressed by the Warm Springs Tribe and its governmental and local partners."