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Oregon Attorney General Produces Ballot Title For Proposed Gill Net Ban Initiative
Posted on Friday, July 29, 2011 (PST)

The delivery of a draft ballot title Tuesday triggered a comment period of 10 business days’ duration on a proposal to amend Oregon law to ban the use of gill nets by non-tribal commercial fishers in the Columbia River.


The draft title for the prospective Nov. 6, 2012, ballot initiative was produced by the state Attorney General’s Office for the Secretary of State’s Election Division. Comments are due by Aug. 9 and should be addressed to Elections Division, 255 Capital St. NE Ste 501, Salem, OR 97310. Comments can also be faxed to 503-373-7414.


The draft title caption reads, “Bans Columbia River commercial salmon fishing with gillnets by non-tribal persons, allows seine nets instead.”


According to Oregon law the draft title must include “a simple and understandable statement” that describes the result if the measure is approved and if it is rejected and a concise and impartial summary of the measure and its potential major effects.


A yes vote “bans non-tribal commercial salmon fishing with ‘gill nets’ (defined) in Columbia River; allows salmon fishers who previously used gillnets to use ‘seine’ (defined) nets.”


A no vote “retains laws allowing commercial fishing for salmon with gill nets in Columbia River; retains laws prohibiting salmon fishing with seine nets in Columbia River.


“Summary: Current law allows Columbia River commercial salmon fishing with gillnets but not with seine nets or fixed fishing gear; allows issuing of new gillnet permits; allows appeal to Commercial Fishery Permit Board (board) if gillnet permit is denied; recognizes Oregon and Washington gillnet licenses as valid in Columbia River in both states.


“Measure bans Columbia River non-tribal salmon fishing with gillnets; allows non-tribal fishers who previously used gillnets to use seine nets; no new permits would be issued; Fish and Wildlife Commission may allow fixed fishing gear; disallows appeal to board if seine permit is denied; repeals Oregon/Washington gillnet license reciprocity.


“Measure does not affect tribal fishing rights; effect on fishing management agreements between federal government, Indian tribes, and states is unclear. Other provisions.”


Once the comment period ends, the Attorney General’s Office is required to issue a certified ballot title within 10 business days.


Once the final ballot title is in hand, the petitioners can start the collecting the 87,213 signatures needed to get the gill-net ban initiative on next year’s general election ballot. The signatures must be filed with the Oregon Elections Division by July 6, 2012.


The proposed initiative, draft ballot title and other information can be found at:

Once on the web page hit the “search database” link and then and then “summary results.”


The initiative was proposed the Coastal Conservation Association. The CCA is a non-profit organization comprised of 17 coastal state chapters whose membership is comprised primarily recreational saltwater anglers.


Chief petitioners are state Sens. Fred Girod, R-Stayton, and Rod Monroe, D-Portland and David Schamp, chairman of the Oregon CCA chapter’s board of directors.


The proposed Protect Our Salmon Act of 2012 says that “the state still permits the use of commercial fishing nets that indiscriminately kill or injure large numbers of endangered wild salmon and other non-target fish and wildlife species.” The state’s freshwater commercial fisheries occur exclusively in the Columbia River.


The Columbia and its tributaries are home to salmon and steelhead and salmon stocks that are listed under the Endangered Species Act. Commercial fisheries are co-managed by Oregon and Washington where the river represents the two states’ border.


The CCA plans to pursue options other than an initiative process in Washington, possibly working through that state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission, to gain a gill-net ban.


“Gillnets and tangle nets are specifically designed to snare fish by the gills or head and lead to the injury, suffocation and death of large numbers of endangered wild salmon and steelhead and other species that become entangled in the mesh,” the proposed initiative says.


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