Senate to vote today on governor's nominees for the Oregon Fish and Wildlife CommissionAstoria's Jon Englund and two other nominees to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission received the thumbs-up from a state Senate panel in Salem Wednesday.
The full Senate was set to vote today on Gov. Ted Kulongoski's nominees, who include Englund, Portland attorney Ken Klarquist and Dan Edge, head of Oregon State University's fish and wildlife management programs.
At Wednesday's hearing, environmental groups said Englund, owner of Englund Marine Supply, would have a conflict of interest because he owns a coastal business that sells gear to commercial fishermen as well as sport fishermen.
"He will make decisions on the commission that could have an effect on his business," said Bill Bakke of the Native Fish Society. "It's unavoidable."
Bakke and a spokesman for the Federation of Fly Fishermen raised similar concerns about Edge, saying he might be in a position to steer fish and wildlife agency contracts to the university department he heads.
Both Englund and Edge said they anticipate no such problems, and that they would avoid voting on matters that would have a direct bearing on their business or department that come before the seven-member commission, which sets state fish and wildlife policies and oversees the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Englund has worked in the marine supply business for more than 40 years and has stores in downtown Astoria, Newport, Charleston, California and Washington. He said today that concerns about possible conflicts of interest were understandable, but said he's studied the relevant state laws and discussed the issue with the Government Standards and Practices department.
He noted that two of the outgoing commission members included a commercial fisherman and a person who represented hydro-power interests. "Potential conflict of interest is nothing new to state government," he said.
The three new nominees drew bipartisan support from members of the Senate Rules Committee late Wednesday. Englund and Edge won the panel's backing after several senators said people with varied backgrounds and expertise should be encouraged to serve in government.
"I see it as a benefit when people volunteer their services to the state," said Senate Democratic Leader Kate Brown of Portland.
The state board oversees harvests of economically important species such as Dungeness crab, Columbia River salmon, and other shellfish.
"I bring to the commission a knowledge of recreational and commercial fishing along the coast, and their impact to the economy, and possibly new, inventive ways to maximize harvests and still protect the resource," Englund said today.
Kulongoski made the nominations after he removed the commission's former chairman, John Esler of Portland, when it become evident the Senate wouldn't approve Esler's re-nomination to the panel.
Esler was up for reappointment in January by the Senate, which did not act on his appointment. He had been criticized by some Republicans for questioning commercial gillnetting on the Columbia River and for supporting a ban on fall bait-fishing along parts of the Rogue River.