Talks follow fishery failure proclamation
Susan Chambers, TheWorldLink.Com
August 11, 2006
World Photo by Susan Chambers U.S. Sen. Gordon
Smith, left, and salmon troller Jeff Reeves
lead other fishermen and government officials
down D-Dock in Charleston on Thursday. Smith,
U.S. Department of Commerce Deputy Secretary
David Sampson and National Marine Fisheries
Service Director Bill Hogarth met with
fishermen to formally declare the salmon
season a fisheries failure and to tour the
docks to see first-hand the effects of this
last year's and this year's sharply curtailed
CHARLESTON - The weather couldn't have been
Political weather, that is.
D-Dock in Charleston carried more political clout
per foot of dock space on Thursday than it likely
U.S. Commerce Department Deputy Secretary David
Sampson, U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore.; and
National Marine Fisheries Service Director Bill
Hogarth met with local fishermen to announce that
indeed, the commercial salmon fishery has been
declared an economic failure under the
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and
Management Act. Later, they talked with fishermen
and farmers about the Klamath River and salmon.
Sampson said that recent data-gathering efforts
have shown that this year's season is one of the
worst on record. It was closed in the extreme
southern part of Oregon and northern part of
California and open on only very limited days in
the rest of the West Coast to protect natural
Klamath fall Chinook runs.
Salmon deliveries are down by 88 percent of the
average of the last five years, Sampson said, and
the value is down by about the same amount.
fishermen went about their daily work of getting
ready for tuna fishing or just fixing their
vessels, but a few gathered to see what the fuss
was about. In the background, others filleted
albacore and a sea lion circled in the waters
under the dock.
Quite a few fishermen were hopeful this
declaration would provide more relief than
California and Oregon's efforts. A few salmon
trollers who live in one state but make most of
their money from salmon in the other have fallen
through the cracks for state aid eligibility.
But that's likely to change now.
It's up to lawmakers and governors to keep up the
pressure, Sampson said, to get federal money
included in appropriations bills.
to assure you our engagement does not end today,”
To date, the U.S. Senate has agreed to $10 million
in aid, however, funding is not final. Senators
Smith and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., plan to continue
working to reconcile the Senate bill with a House
of Representatives version that includes $2
million in funding to support the salmon fishermen
and impacted businesses.
And they're going to push for more, they said.
That's where the second half of Thursday's event
came into play.
The Charleston Marina RV Park recreation room,
that in past meetings has been filled on one side
of the room with federal officials and on the
other side with angry commercial fishing
constituents, was set up differently on Thursday
It was much like a reunion of old friends.
Smith set up the forum as a starting point to
address the long-term Klamath Basin issues.
Many of the representatives already knew one
another. Fisherman Jim Moore was a farmer in the
Klamath area at one time and knew many of the
representatives from the Klamath Basin.
“I want to make sure you're included,” Smith said
of the fishermen and farmers.
The best policies come from the people who are
affected most by them, he said.
Both farmers and fishermen said that the
perception in the past has been that the groups
are at odds. That's not true, they said.
“We want you guys out on the water catching fish,”
Klamath Water Users Association Executive Director
Greg Addington said. “And we want to farm.”
Both groups identified regulatory inflexibility as
a one of the biggest problems.
Coincidentally, on the days Oregon fishermen were
allowed to fish, tide and weather conditions
weren't conducive to fishing and many fishermen
couldn't even cross the bar. There were no
alternative days to fish incorporated into the
On the other hand, farmers are hamstrung with
rules that say water must be retained in Upper
Klamath Lake to protect endangered sucker fish,
while at the same time another regulation says
water must be released from the lake into the
river so that coho can survive.
Both groups face no-win situations, they said.
Fishermen and farmers said more science could help
in both cases - and already there is existing and
emerging science that should be incorporated into
current water and fisheries management plans, they
In Oregon, some fishermen are participating in
salmon genetic studies that give researchers much
more information than they've had in the past.
With a little effort, said Gold Beach fisherman
Scott Boley, that kind of data could be useful for
Hogarth said he does have a proposal for that kind
of work on his desk.
“It does have a lot of promise,” he said.
Inland, farmers already are putting together
conservation ideas themselves and trying to use
better science for water management.
Family Farm Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen
said a National Academy of Science study a few
years ago is gathering dust. Ideas in that report
should be used, but it should also go one step
further if those ideas are to be implemented.
“Fishermen need to be at the table,” he said.
Though the ideas set forth on Thursday were
general in nature, it at least continued the
dialogue between water users and salmon trollers.
It also provided Washington, D.C., officials
something to bank on when they return and seek
support for additional funding.
“We believe the ultimate solutions are
stakeholder-developed solutions,” Sampson said.