Letter From The Director

Thank you for supporting Coastal Conservation Association Washington and for taking the time to visit our website.

CCA is the largest marine conservation organization in the country, with a presence in 17 states. CCA’s efforts have resulted in the restoration of those areas’ precious resources and dramatically improved sport fishing.

I’d like to share with you an assessment of our fisheries that I recently came across:
“It does not require a study of the statistics to convince one that the salmon industry has suffered a great decline during the past decade…Oregon has drawn wealth from her streams, but now, by reason of her wastefulness and lack of intelligent provision for the future, the source of that wealth is disappearing and is threatened with annihilation…”
That statement appeared in a report of the Oregon Fish and Game Protector. The year was 1894.
People realized that a valuable and finite resource had been squandered and “threatened with annihilation” more than 100 years ago. Unfortunately we have not made any progress during that time; that same statement can be made today, although extinction is no longer a threat – it is a reality if we do not change our harvest practices.

Many wild salmon runs in Washington, California, Idaho and Oregon are listed as threatened and endangered under the Endangered Species Act, and the collapse of the Pacific salmon fishery has caught national attention.

Taxpayers are funding the recovery of these fish – or lack thereof – to the tune of $1 billion a year. We keep pouring money into hatcheries, habitat and other programs without addressing the root cause of the problem.

There is a reason we have not moved the dial on recovery; it is the way we harvest – and continually over-harvest – our fish. Currently, the commercial fishing gear in use in the Columbia River and elsewhere (gillnets) is non-selective and kills large numbers of ESA-listed and wild salmon and steelhead. Gillnets are designed to “gill” fish snared in the nets, leading to suffocation and death before selection is possible. All marine life that gets caught in a gillnet dies, from salmon and steelhead to seals and seabirds. Ironically, the Pacific Northwest is one of the few areas in the country to still allow gillnets.

We have the ability to restore our runs — and our fishing economy — by changing our harvest practices.

Implementing the use of selective gear is an effective, achievable way to create a sustainable fishery for all stakeholders – both recreational and commercial – a solution that is supported by science. And, it opens the door to providing a greater return on the investment that taxpayers are contributing to salmon recovery.

You don’t have to be a biologist or scientist to advocate for the conservation of this resource. It’s an issue that impacts us all, and we can all be involved in this important effort. Thank you and I hope you take the time to get involved and join CCA!

Nello Picinich
Executive Director
CCA Washington