Oregon Ballot Measure 81
The initiative process has a long and strong tradition in Oregon Politics having been established in 1902. Oregon used the initiative process to establish the first presidential primary election system in the nation in 1910, and approved women’s right to vote in 1912 (“Oregon”). Between 1904 and 2002 Oregon had produced the most initiatives of any state (“Oregon”). Citizens can place an initiative on the ballot if they can collect sufficient signatures to meet the filing requirements. As Oregonians most of us strongly believe in the initiative process both as a way to address issues that we feel the legislature may have gotten wrong or they may not be willing to address. It allows for the citizens voices to be heard. It also allows for the citizens to reject initiatives if compelling arguments are not made to approve it. Oregon ballot measure 81 prohibits commercial non-tribal fishing with gillnets in Oregon “inland waters”, allows use of seine nets. This ballot measure’s proposed changes to state law are not based on science and proper fish management but on emotions and the economic benefits of one group over another. The Columbia River salmon are a natural resource that plays a role in the local economy, local culture and greatly into local Native American culture. The total number of “native” or “wild fish” allowed to be harvested would not change as it is set by the Columbia River Compact. Voting no on this ballot measure is what every Oregonian should do when voting this November. First, you should know what a gill net is, what a seine net is, and what the differences are between them. “The Magnuson-Stevens Act (PL 94-265 (1976)), the federal law governing the management of marine fisheries, defines a gillnet as a panel of netting, suspended vertically in the water by floats along the top and weights along the bottom, to entangle fish that attempt to pass through it” (Martin). On the Columbia River gillnets are used to catch sturgeon and salmon (Martin). Also, this way of fishing is the only legal way of “providing Columbia River caught fish for sale” to those who live in Oregon (Martin). A fish seine is “a horizontal net that has floats holding the top line of the net at the water's surface. The net extends down in the water due to weights placed on the net's bottom line. The weighted line can then be pulled, so that the net acts like a purse” (Smith). Seines have the ability to catch many different species of fish, mostly “noted in the Columbia River for catching salmon” (Smith). Both nets share some of the same aspects, so if this measure passed there wouldn’t be a big difference in the way the fish are caught. There is a false argument that the change in the law to eliminate the use of gill nets will somehow protect endangered Salmon, but this is ultimately untrue. The same numbers of fish are being allocated for harvest; the only thing that will change is who will catch them. The Salmon runs have actually been improving and the U.S. Fisheries report does not list the Columbia River as over fished (“NMFS”). “The question of whether commercial fisheries should continue on the Columbia River is primarily a social, rather than a biological, issue. Commercial and recreational fisheries are both managed to ensure that the incidental mortality of wild fish resulting from their handling in fisheries falls within limits established to ensure their survival and recovery” (“ODFW”). Here is the description of The Columbia River Compact from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Website (“Columbia River Compact”). “The Columbia River Compact is charged by congressional and statutory authority to adopt seasons and rules for Columbia River commercial fisheries. In recent years, the Compact has consisted of the Oregon and Washington agency directors, or their delegates, acting on behalf of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission (OFWC) and the Washington Fish and...
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