An amended petition that challenges proposed changes to gillnet use on the lower Columbia River was filed Monday in the Oregon Court of Appeals.

The new petition responds to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission’s adoption of rules June 6, which replaced similar rules adopted by the commission in December.

Steve Fick, Jim Wells and Fishhawk Fisheries challenged the first set of rule changes in January.

“They have not addressed the issues in any substantial way or from a technical standpoint,” said Fick about the recent update to the rules.

The changes would move commercial gillnet fishermen off the main stem of the Columbia River following a transition period, enhance off-channel hatchery sites and introduce alternative gear use. It would also change the percentage of fish allocated for commercial gillnet fishermen while increasing it for recreational fishermen.

On Feb. 11, the Oregon Court of Appeals granted a stay on enforcement of the rule changes that were set to take effect this year. The court allowed ODFW to reopen the rules to address the initial challenge by Fick and Wells, which focused on economic impacts to commercial gillnetters.

ODFW issued a new notice of proposed rulemaking and conducted a new Fiscal Impact Statement in March. A Fiscal Impact Advisory Committee met in April and May to analyze whether the proposed rules would hurt commercial fishermen and to develop recommendations for the commission. On the committee, there were three ODFW staff, two representatives of the commercial fishing industry and two representatives for recreational fishermen.

After hearing the committee’s findings and recommendations, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted similar measures as before.

The petition filed Monday states matching objections as before. It points out a burden on commercial gillnet fishermen because of allocation shifts and the illegality of seine nets, a proposed alternative gear type.

In addition, the document states objections to the committee.

“By appointing a fiscal impact advisory committee made up of five advocates for the ODFW rules and two persons representing the interests of those who would be affected adversely by promulgation of those rules, ODFW failed to meet its statutory obligation,” it states.

Fick said that it was inadequate to only have two people affected by the changes on the committee. “We’re going to continue the battle,” he said.

Because new rules were adopted, the?Oregon court determined that the intial challenge was moot and that a new petition would be needed for continued judicial review on the matter. A new request for a stay of enforcement will be needed as well and is being worked on, according to Bob Steringer who represents the challengers.

The issue arose last year when sportfishing interests placed a measure on the Oregon statewide ballot seeking voter approval for gillnet restrictions on the main stem of the Columbia. The measure was rejected by a large margin in November. However, during the months leading up to the election, Gov, John Kitzhaber intervened and proposed that the Oregon and Washington fish and wildlife commissions work on a set of rule changes.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.