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Published January 18, 2008

Loomis and CCA will help preservation
Chester Allen

Crowds of people gather to watch salmon and steelhead when they return to our rivers each year.

These gleaming fish are symbols of the wild Northwest, but we all know the runs are melting away.

Wild steelhead and several species of salmon are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act in Puget Sound and in the huge Columbia River drainage.

We spend millions of dollars each year to help these fish recover, but progress is slow at best in some struggling runs of fish. Many runs continue to shrink.

The blame lies with all of us â€" our need for water, timber, power and land. Too often, we make decisions that take another slice out of salmon and steelhead runs.

Anglers have fought for years to protect the fish. We willingly release wild fish, use barbless hooks that almost assure that the released fish survives, volunteer in habitat restoration projects and fight to protect our waters.

But the threats keep on coming â€" and some of them make no sense.

The states of Washington and Oregon continue to allow nontribal gill netting of some salmon runs. Most commercial netting seasons target hatchery fish, but wild fish â€" some listed under the Endangered Species Act â€" are often swimming upstream right next to hatchery fish. Those protected fish end up in the nets as well.

The states often bend over backward to accommodate these commercial fisheries.

That happened in 2005, when the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved an increase in the amount of wild steelhead that could die in nontribal nets during the spring hatchery chinook season on the Columbia River.

At the time, netters were allowed to kill up to 2 percent of the wild steelhead run.

The proposal increased the wild steelhead kill to 4 percent of the run. This deal was designed to help a small group of commercial netters reach their catch quota, even though netters had reached their quota the previous three years under the 2 percent kill allowance.

Our state Fish and Wildlife Commission ignored the facts about the damage to already struggling fish runs â€" and the [email protected] ... 31187.html
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