Representative Deborah Boone E-Update


Representative Deborah Boone
D-Cannon Beach, District 32

Phone: 503-986-1432 900 Court St. NE, H-375 Salem Oregon 97301
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As we enter the final weeks of the 2013 Legislative session state agency budgets are being discussed and approved.   On Thursday the House approved $331.6 million for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.   ODFW’s mission is to conserve, protect and enhance fish and wildlife habitats.   As part of their operation, the department has nearly three dozen fish hatcheries. ODFW’S fish hatchery rearing programs are guided by the Native Fish Conservation Policy, the Fish Hatchery Management Policy and the Fish Health Management Policy. Fish management goals and hatchery program planning respond to the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds and local watershed interests; federal and state Endangered Species Act ( ESA) guidelines; and all other applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. While wildlife officials are working to increase the fishery opportunities, their predation task force reports that increasing numbers of double-crested cormorants are taking a tremendous toll on fish populations.  

The bulk of the state’s cormorant population — approximately 12,000 breeding pairs — lives on the East Sand Island in the Columbia River. The colony is estimated to consume about $250K worth of salmon smolts each week.   The birds are protected, and the state has to apply to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for depredation permits to kill them.  Last spring ODFW applied for depredation permits for the Tillamook, Umpqua and Rogue River populations, but the federal government denied all three, citing a lack of data.  At the insistence of the Coastal Caucus,  the ODFW budget that was approved this week  includes $250K is included to gather the data and develop a cormorant management plan.  Other states are also having problems with cormorants, federal authorities have granted permission for their control in the Minnesota lake region where their impact on fish populations has been studied and documented.

Senate Bill 830 is another fish related bill, and would establish a new management program aimed at prioritizing the mainstem Columbia River for recreational fishing and moving most commercial fishing to off-channel areas.   Currently there are about 550 commercial fishing permit holders on the Columbia, and there is not enough off-channel area to accommodate all of them, which would force many out of business while reducing the income of those who remain.  I am not in favor of SB 830.  This wholesale change to Columbia River fish management will have a devastating effect on the Lower Columbia River communities like Astoria, Warrenton, Gearhart, St. Helens, Scappoose, Rainier and Claskanie.  Many families in these communities have commercially fished the Columbia for generations, and this cultural tradition is an important way of life.  Astoria is already seeing a downturn in its economy due to the impending plan.   In the last six months, commercial gear sales are down in just one store by over $250K.   Boat and motor shops are struggling, as this uncertainty is causing commercial fishers to delay or cancel equipment purchases, upgrades and repairs.     North Coast communities depend on the revenue generated by the Columbia River commercial fishery, which allows consumer access to these highly valued fish.  This plan has little or no conservation benefit, but rather transfers the allocation of fish from commercial to recreational anglers, preventing the general public from purchasing these fish through the traditional stream of commerce.   The commercial fleet is unified in its opposition to this plan, as are the seafood processors, restaurants and native Americans who commercially fish with gillnets above Bonneville Dam.

Commercial fishing is so important to the economic well-being of our coastal communities, that I was delighted to hear that Pacific Seafood will be opening up a temporary processing plant at Tongue Point in Astoria this weekend.   Following last week’s devastating fire at their Warrenton plant, Pacific Seafood made arrangements to use a facility at the Port of Astoria and Pacific Seafood staff has been working round-the clock to have the facility up and running by Saturday for the start of the shoreside Pacific Whiting season. Whiting is the most abundant fish resource off the west coast and is extremely versatile, its clean tasty white meat is often used for fish and chips, pan frying and baking, and is also processed into surimi, which is used to make imitation crab and other fish products. Whiting makes up more than half of the Pacific Seafood processing business, so it comes as great relief that the company has been able to open up a temporary processing facility in Astoria so quickly.

In other news from the Legislature, the House and Senate Committees that oversee emergency preparedness held the second of three hearings on the Oregon Resilience Plan to hear recommendations for making Oregon’s coastal towns more resilient in the event of earthquakes and tsunamis.  Coastal communities have the most to lose in the terms of lives and will have the hardest recovery.   It is estimated that more than 10,000 could die, and 22,000 people living along the coast will be permanently displaced if an earthquake and tsunami were to occur of the Pacific Northwest coast today. That’s why emergency management officials are advocating that we begin the process of retrofitting building for earthquake resiliency.  Senate Bill 33 would designate a task force to come up with a strategy for implementing the resilience plan, and is pending in the Ways and Means Committee.

As always, if you have a concern or comment about a state agency, or pending legislation, you can also write, phone or email my office, or when you’re in Salem, stop by my office in the Capitol.  It is my privilege to represent you in the House of Representatives, and I look forward to hearing from you.


Deborah Boone
State Representative District 32