A recent decision by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on allocation of Columbia River spring chinook has triggered an angry and mean-spirited response from a small segment of the recreational fishing industry.
Their selfish actions against one of the Fish and Wildlife Commissioners, and his marine-related businesses, threaten the very fabric of the volunteer commission form of government that has well-served the citizens of this state for many years.
Jon Englund, an Astoria resident and the only coastal commissioner, has been singled out for retribution by this group for the position he took on this allocation issue. Englund is a selfless and generous public servant who donates countless hours each month towards resolving fish and wildlife issues in this state. He also happens to be a very successful businessman who owns and operates marine supply stores in a number of coastal locations and a national boat parts distribution business.
Because Englund chose to volunteer his time to serve on the high-profile commission, and because he cast a vote unpopular with one segment of resource users, that group has begun an organized but misinformed boycott of his businesses that is meant to punish him for the position he took on this issue.
The intentions of members of this group are very clearly stated in their individual letters to Englund. Either change your vote on this issue or we will hurt you financially by withdrawing our support of your businesses and asking others from the recreational industry to do the same.
While serving on a decision-making body such as the Fish and Wildlife Commission is a privilege, it is also difficult and often a thankless duty. Allocation decisions, at times, are particularly gut wrenching because you know you will face criticism regardless of how you vote.
Threatening a commissioner's financial livelihood and those of his employees, however, goes beyond the normal response to a decision maker who took an adversarial position on an issue. It borders on the unethical and, in fact, jeopardizes future membership on all state commissions if allowed to continue.
The issue to be addressed here is not whether Englund and the other commissioners who comprised the majority were "right" or "wrong" in each of their decisions on this motion. The point is the same whether a commissioner is in the majority or minority of a given vote: The tyranny of an economic boycott directed against any individual serving voluntarily because of a position taken during a decision should have no place in Oregon. The interests of all concerned are far better served by ongoing dialogue rather than economic warfare.
James M. Habberstad
Kenneth E. Jernstedt
Robert W. Jacobson
Jim Van Loan
Past chairmen of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission