The much anticipated spring chinook salmon allocation hearing has come and gone. The sports groups have pounded their chests with grandiose promises of vanquishing the hated commercial gill netters into some kind of salmon bizarro world. Yep! The vocal masses of the internet fishing website ifish.net promised to unite sports fisherman of the Columbia and Willamette river and kick ass.They made a lot of bold claims and vowed to finally get their day in the sun.....fat chance!
First of all I was not at the meeting and even if I could have I would not have gone! One lonely voice for wild fish was their from Trout Unlimited but this was not a day to discuss wild and endangered spring chinook. This was the day of fighting over the scraps of hatchery fish that the upper Columbia river native American tribes were not entitled too and what a spectacle it must have been. I followed the play by play from Oregonian outdoor columnist Bill Monroe who was present at the meeting as he gave the cyber world an outline as to what was being said before the ODFW commission.
In the end the sports groups still got the lion's share (57% to 43% for the commercials) but it was not the lion's share they anticipated. They still get six out of seven days to fish with the commercials getting only one day and still they bellow like a spoiled fat kid who didn't get the whole candy bar. Oh yes and they also started to do what they do best! Fighting amongst themselves and finger pointing. The out numbered commercial gill netters, putting their individual differences aside, still outflanked them and both user groups will have to vie for the available salmon between the I-5 Bridge and Bonneville dam.
So we once again see greed win out and sports fishermen still come out of this looking as ridiculous, greedy and fragmented as they always have.
Hope these people will be as motivated when addressing issues that affect wild fish but I will not be holding my breath. Sports groups have always been conspicuously absent when it comes to conservation issues.
The one winner of the day is, as it always is when it comes to dividing the hatchery pie, greed.