Gov. Ted Kulongoski has issued a directive to the Ocean Policy Advisory Council to hasten the process of creating no-fishing reserves in Oregon's territorial sea, which covers 0 to 3 miles.
This is being pushed by special interest groups funded in part by out-of-state corporate and foundation money. There is a possibility that if coastal resistance is too great he may just issue an executive order creating these no-fishing areas.
The mood in Salem is just do it no matter what the coast wants. This became apparent at the April 19 OPAC meeting in Reedsport.
At this meeting, Louise Solliday, director of the Oregon Department of State Lands, made the following statement regarding no-fishing marine reserves: "I think it's important to remember that the ocean resources that we're talking about don't belong to the coastal community. They belong to all Oregonians. And while the coastal communities certainly feel the greatest benefit and the greatest impact of policy choices that are made, these ocean resources belong to all of us.
"And I guess the other thing I'd like to say is that while I want as much coastal support as we can get for this effort, I think we need to recognize that almost every major change that's been made in our history was made without the support of the majority when it was made, and, uh, pick one, whether it's designation of wilderness, whether it's the right of women to vote, or turning black people from three-fifths of a person into an entire person. I mean, just pick any of them. I would say that people didn't wait for the majority to support. They did it because it was the right thing to do, and because it was going to benefit society as a whole."
This statement came from public records recording of the meeting. It should be added that two of these minority decision claims are false. The 19th amendment (women's voting rights) to the constitution was not passed by the minority. That is impossible by law. The same is true for the 13th amendment which freed the slaves. The three-fifths part can speak for itself. There are no laws adding two-fifths to any group's stature.
It appears that coastal constituents and ocean stakeholders are in the early stages of being run over politically. These stakeholders include many in the Willamette Valley who sport and/or commercial fish.
This action has nothing to do with conservation of marine resources. It has everything to do with competing philosophies regarding the best public use of Oregon's ocean. Fishing interests want to continue with a conservation principle using maximum sustainable yield. In other words harvest no more fish than can be replaced by natural reproduction. This is written into federal statute contained in the Magnuson Stevens Act, which was reauthorized in 2006.
This is happening now through the management measures enacted by our own state agency ODFW and the federal National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). No fishing beyond sustainable levels is occurring. Habitat protection also is in place and expanding as need merits. The no-fishing proponents want zero human impacts (excluding their own of course) or full protection of the ocean resources and habitat. It is impossible to have maximum sustainable yield and full protection in the same place at the same time. Their solution to this conflict is to convert to no fishing.
It does appear that the no-fishing proponents are growing impatient with closure progress and want political payback for supporting Kulongoski in the last election. The governor apparently wishes to comply. He is directing that a network of no-take marine reserves be created on the coast. "Network" means more than one.
It will likely be as many as can be shoved down coastal throats.
This looks like an action by Salem to bulldoze this process along until someone finds a way to stop them. Loud and constant rebellion is one way to stop them. Large numbers of angry constituents are difficult to suppress.
If you oppose this action, let your legislators, governor, and local officials hear from you forcefully and often.
John Holloway, of Portland and Garibaldi, is chairman of the Oregon Chapter, Recreational Fishing Alliance, a board member of Oregon Anglers, a member of the ODFW Ocean Sportfish Advisory Committee, the ODFW Nearshore Advisory Committee and the Groundfish Advisory, federal Pacific Fishery Management Council.