Fish fight on the lower Columbia

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Articles - June 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011

 

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SB 736 would ban commercial gillnet fishing in the main stem of the lower Columbia below Bonneville.

A coalition of sport fishermen and related businesses is luring legislators to ban commercial gillnet fishing in the main stem of the lower Columbia River below Bonneville Dam.

Proponents of Senate Bill 736 say it would limit harm to endangered wild fish and non-targeted species, while opening new opportunities for recreational angling. “Sport fishing provides a softer touch and a better economic return,” says Liz Hamilton of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association.

The law would not ban commercial fishing in the lower Columbia. Rather it would force non-tribal gillnetters to target hatchery fish in “terminal” areas such as Youngs Bay and Blind Slough. Still, Hobe Kytr of Salmon For All says the new law would effectively put an end to one of the state’s longest-running industries. “There isn’t room in the select areas for anywhere close to a full-fleet fishery,” he says. “The high-value fish are in the main stem.”

Commercial fishing on the lower Columbia was a major moneymaker in the early days of statehood, before over fishing, dam-building and urbanization greatly reduced catches. Most of Oregon’s 150 or so remaining non-tribal gillnetters head to Alaska to earn their real money.

In 2010, commercial fishermen caught 1.4 million pounds of Chinook salmon, 808,000 pounds of Coho salmon and 149,000 pounds of sturgeon in the lower Columbia, a combined haul worth about $6 million to fishermen.

Hamilton says the best way to protect wild fish and boost the economy would be to force a shift to recreational harvest over commercial. “We average eight days [on the water] per fish caught,” she says.” “That’s a lot of money spent for each fish taken home.”

Kytr counters that limiting commercial fishing opportunities would also limit funding for salmon recovery, since the two are connected legally. Consumers would also lose access to main-stem Columbia spring Chinooks, renowned for their rich taste and omega-3 fatty acids.

Oregon’s major environmental groups have stayed out of the battle. So have the four Native American tribes with treaty fishing rights to waters above Bonneville Dam. A similar bill targeting gillnetters several sessions ago failed to become law.

BEN JACKLET
 

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Editor's Letter: Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


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