Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
Merrill - James L. Moore was born and raised on a farm near Merrill. He was a third-generation Klamath Project farmer and former Executive Director of Klamath Water Users until 2001, when he became a Coastal Fisherman. Now he’s a member of the Oregon Troller’s Association living in Bandon, Oregon.
Moore has read the media and government agency myths blaming the Klamath farmers and ranchers for Klamath River fish-kills and fishery shut-downs on the coast hundreds of miles away.
Moore, his wife Cheri from Bandon, and fishing comrades Charles Clewell and J.D. Evanow from Charleston, OR, met with the Courier to tell about the shutdown of commercial salmon fishing.
How commercial coastal fishing was back then
Fishing 20 years ago was a lot like farming. In
spring you would know when your season was, sort of
like sports fishing or farming, perhaps March
through October. You knew when you could fish and
This year in Oregon there are only 540 active permits, approximately 120 in Washington, and according to California Fish and Game, 1392 in California. That’s a far cry from 10,000 permits in the past.
Moore said this year the fishermen were told
their season would be open March 15-April 1. Then
they had a 15 day opener in May. And they didn’t
receive their federal regulations until June 15, so
they didn’t know how long or where they could fish
the remainder of the season.
Moore said one opener in 2003 killed 33 men; "I was fishing in storms and everything. I was thrown on the floor."
What also irks the trollers is that this year is
projected to be one of the highest salmon runs in
history. And the California delta has so many fish
that they are overcrowded and dying. "There are so
many salmon running out of air, dying because they
can’t be harvested and they are getting parasites."
The dying fish, said Moore, are worth millions of
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and
Management Act Public Law 94-265 says that there can
be no management decisions without considering the
economic detriment to fishing communities. According
to this Act, "the term "fishing community" means a
community which is substantially dependent on or
substantially engaged in the harvest or processing
of fishery resources to meet social and economic
needs, and includes fishing vessel owners,
operators, and crew and United States fish
processors that are based in such community."
How do the fishermen feel?
"They’ve taken our lives," said Clewell. "We want them to give us our life back."
Clewell and three partners just bought a commercial fishing boat this year for $35,000 with three partners and they can’t use it because of the closures. "I don’t want welfare, I just want to go fishing. I’m forty per cent disabled but I can fish. The government has taken our live three times." His boat grossed $50,000-$60,000 annually, but this year so far, $7,000.
Evanow grossed $30,000 last year between March
and June, and in the same time frame this year
Coming in this series
What are the fish fleets 30 acres wide with
"National Marine Fishery Service" written on them?
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM Pacific
Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2005, All Rights Reserved