SALEM — To show support for the local commercial salmon-fishing industry, the Clatsop County commissioners are organizing a rally on the steps of the state Capitol building in Salem at 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

Commission Chairman Peter Huhtala was enthusiastic about the idea after North Coast commercial fishermen suggested Wednesday that the board go beyond writing a protest letter and instead confront the governor “eyeball to eyeball.”

The commissioners are inviting anyone in the salmon gillnet industry and their supporters to attend. The state Capitol building is located at 900 Court St. N.E. in Salem.

Representatives of Clatsop County and the Salmon For All commercial fishing group are scheduled to meet with Gov. John Kitzhaber prior to the rally.

The commissioners oppose a proposal from Gov. Kitzhaber that would prohibit gillnet fishing on the mainstem of the Columbia River. Rules implementing the governor’s proposal, which would limit gillnets to off-channel fishing areas in a three-year phased process, are to be considered by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission at a meeting Friday in Portland. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to take up the rules at a meeting Dec. 14 and15 in Olympia.

Gillnetters and supporters argue that the plan would threaten the livelihoods of many area fishermen while accomplishing little toward the conservation of protected salmon runs. Commercial gillnetters harvest at least half of their overall catch in the Columbia channel, through a fishery highly regulated by state and federal agencies.

On Nov. 28, the county board of commissioners opened its regular meeting to testimony from gillnetters and supporters regarding the proposed rules. Twenty-four citizens offered input – an audio recording of the testimony is available online at www.co.clatsop.or.us

The ODFW Commission will take up the gillnet plan beginning at 8 a.m. Friday at the Holiday Inn-Portland Airport, Willamette Room, 8439 N.E. Columbia Blvd., Portland. Public testimony will be taken at the meeting. For more information go to www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/commission

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