Salmon savers

Salmon savers

Mark Newell
Making a Go of It

A commercial salmon troller out of Newport since 1975, Mark Newell remembers a time when all of the state’s fisheries were wide open — no permits required. He also remembers what it was like 15 or 20 years ago, when more than 1,000 commercial fishing boats plied the waters off the Oregon Coast for Pacific salmon. Nowadays, even though there are licenses for more than 1,000 boats, fewer than half are actively in use.

“The fleet has shrunk because we’ve had so many bad years,” says Newell, who’s also a wholesale buyer and processor. “A lot of guys have moved on.”

The declining salmon numbers have pushed many Oregon fishermen like Newell to diversify into multiple states and into some of Oregon’s larger fisheries, such as pink shrimp, Dungeness crab and albacore. In Newport, commercial fishermen reported landing about 1.3 million pounds of Chinook in 2004; the number plummeted to 3,300 pounds during the disastrous 2008 season and was back up to about 320,000 pounds last year.

Newell, who is also a member of the Oregon Salmon Commission, says that, like the increased number of salmon returning to the Columbia this year, the fish numbers have been strong along the coast as well, so the ocean fishing this year has improved. He’s been at this long enough to know, however, that a good year this year doesn’t mean it’ll be that way in 2014 too.

“They are the best they’ve been in five years,” he says, “but you never know what the run will be like next year.”



Comments   

 
Guest
+2 #1 Great new issue!Guest 2013-10-30 23:40:47
Great new issue focused on salmon!

I’m surprised, however, that little mention was made of the impact on those who enjoy recreational salmon fishing.

After all, larger runs means more fun for tens of thousands of Oregonians each year, and a lot more revenue for small towns on the Oregon coast, along the Columbia River, etc.

I certainly didn’t mind spending money this past Saturday. In return? I have a great day of memories, including the 15 minutes it took to reel in the largest salmon I've ever caught.

Will I spend even more time and money salmon fishing again next summer? You bet!
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Guest
0 #2 writerGuest 2013-10-31 17:17:31
Thanks much for the comment, and glad to hear about your catch! We did touch on the aspects you're talking about in the "Slowly Rising" section about the economic benefits to tribes and small towns out along the Columbia, and also in the "Ranching and Restoring Together" section. And we'll of course be keeping an eye on future returns and the impacts they have on Oregon's angling towns and businesses. Jon Bell
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Guest
0 #3 RE: Salmon saversGuest 2013-11-02 19:10:05
This piece also points out the need to maintain a viable commercial salmon fishery so that people who don't sport fish also have access to fresh local salmon of the highest quality such as Lofgren wants to serve, thus maintaining a constituency for salmon recovery above and beyond sport anglers, which I am one of. Gill netting can be made less damaging to T&E stocks while still allowing some commercial harvest.
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