SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The future of commercial fishing on the Columbia River is now in the hands of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission after a measure to ban gillnets failed on Election Day.
The commission faces the tough task of mediating a longstanding conflict between commercial and recreational fishing interests by the end of the year. After years of stalemate, Gov. John Kitzhaber has asked the commission to come up with new commercial fishing regulations that phase out the use of gillnets on the Columbia.
Gillnets snag fish by the gills and are the primary method of commercial fishing on the Columbia. Critics contend that they're harmful to endangered fish, but commercial fishermen say the controversy is drummed up by recreational anglers who want to eliminate competition for salmon.