SALEM, Ore. -– The group that’s asking Oregon voters to ban the use of gillnets along the Columbia River says it’s suspending its ballot measure campaign. The sponsors of the measure say they’re instead backing a separate effort by Oregon’s governor to do essentially the same thing.
Measure 81 would ban the use of gillnets in commercial, non-tribal fishing on the Oregon side of the Columbia River. The measure will still appear on the November ballot. But the group that spent $500,000 getting the initiative in front of voters now says it won’t campaign in favor of it.
That’s because they’re supporting an alternate but similar proposal to ban most gillnets by Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber. The governor is leaning heavily on the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to enact his limits on gillnetting by the end of the year.
“While the campaign for ‘Yes on 81’ may be ending in terms of TV and radio and advertising, the campaign to get rid of gillnets continues,” says Jeremy Wright, a spokesman for the group behind Measure 81. “It’s just a different venue.”
Sport fishermen and environmental groups say the nets kill endangered wild salmon and other marine wildlife. But the commercial fishing industry says any ban on gillnets would be a crippling blow.
(This was first reported by the Northwest News Network.)