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Battle over fishing ban heads for round 2
Commentary by John Griffith, Doos County Commissioner

Coos Bay, Oregon 5/27/03

They tried to force this hogwash on us in Oregon. I am working with Rep. Wayne Krieger, R-Gold Beach, to restore some sanity and public participation to the situation.

Some background: I was on the Oregon Ocean Policy Advisory Council from 1998 until former Gov. Kitzhaber kicked me off in June 2002. I kind of asked to be kicked off, by sending an intentionally provocative email to a staffer at OPAC. I had to do something, because we were getting railroaded. It backfired on Kitzhaber, however, because the Eugene and Portland papers did objective, balanced stories about it, which showed rational people what the problem was. I nevertheless became a forever nonstarter for any elective office beyond the one I have now, which is fine with me. I had no desire to run for another office. I have enough work to do just to try to keep the state and federal governments from shutting down my county and the people who live here.

Back to the Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC).  Every fisherman and coastal government official who spoke at meetings on the coast in the spring of 2002 was against the marine reserve idea that the OPAC put forth after I was fired. OPAC would have done it with me; it would just have been another vote in opposition.

The OPAC is stacked, and has been since it was created in 1991 by the Oregon legislature. It will always produce the outcome desired by the shut-em-down lobby, regardless of what actual ocean users on OPAC and the public say. People who know much are shut out. That is the design of the thing.

Krieger put together a good bill that will fix things if it passes. It's named HB 3534.

As for the items in this article "Battle over fishing ban heads for round 2":

Although bigger fish create more eggs than smaller fish do, the marine reserve crowd fails to note that fish move. They move into and out of areas as they want. Sometimes they're there, others they're somewhere else. Every fisherman knows this. The data are abundant, besides common sense.

There are no marine reserves in a directly comparable environment to Oregon's marine reality. The only close ones are in Puget Sound. There, studies show no difference within or without the reserve except for at Edmunds Dive Park.

Researchers there noticed one rockfish species was more abundant, and they were pretty big. On the other hand, species diversity was notably lower. That is the only empirical observation. Besides, Puget Sound is not that closely related to Oregon's offshore waters.

The lingcod stock assessment is entirely bogus. There is no shortage of them. Boccacio is another matter, but they don't live in Oregon.

Due to federal government regulations, most of our trawlers are just about out of business. This year, the government shut down almost everywhere they fish, and changed their gear to make them much less efficient and their fishing much more dangerous.

The closures are largely in response to green threats of lawsuits if they don't get their way. The federal scientists gather the data, run them through their model, add the precautionary principle every step of the way instead of just at the end the way they're supposed to, and the result is grim (naturally, after a process like that).
Then there's the change in definitions brought on by the 1996 reauthorization of Magnusen Stevens Act. Called the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996, it changed the definition of a fishery fished at optimal yield to "overfished."  So now the greens can crow that such-and-such percent of fish stocks are "overfished," and not actually lie, because Congress changed the definitions. When we went from optimal yield to overfished, not one fish more or less was taken from the ocean by Clinton setting his pen to the abominable bill. It just changed the words, not the number of fish. This is not to say there are no species of concern, just not as much concern as the greens have injected into it.

So in Oregon we already have most of the water as a fishing reserve. Salmon trollers may still fish out there, and so can crabbers, but trawlers cannot. The big boats are trawlers. The salmon fishermen in northern California and PCFFA are the ones suing Klamath Water Users, not our guys. As the greens continue to push for reserves, they'll continue to push more fisheries off the ocean, including the ones they're more cozy with today.

The idea of "spill over" is speculative and unproven. Reports are couched with phrases like "seems to indicate," "could indicate," and "possibly."

Most of the observations are contained in reports and case studies done by advocates of marine reserves. They are not peer-reviewed science, none that I saw in four years of OPAC and previous to that as a newspaper reporter. Some very respected scientists have refuted much of the hogwash. The marine reserve advocates always leave any refuting science out of their reports.

The greens have bought into this scam big time.

They have sucked most of the easy money out of the timber controversy they created, and need new fields to make more money in. And just like timber, we will import more fish to meet American market demand, from countries that don't give a rip about the environment or, for that matter, human health. Our people will be out of work, and theirs will be feeding us. The product will be less fresh, there's no recourse to shady dealings and the ocean will be mined by the foreigners.

Of course, the greens just say, "train them to do new jobs." They forget that Oregon has the highest unemployment in America. So even if they trained these guys, there's no work for them. Besides, just like farmers and ranchers, fishermen are in the work they want now. They feed America, do dangerous work and don't whine about it. But greens know what's best for them, because they've never done the work they're trying to force working people out of.




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