Salmon Mean Business

  • 1000+ American businesses call on Obama Administration to create salmon jobs

    salmon.mean.business72PORTLAND, Ore. -- Over 1,000 American businesses have asked President Obama for decisive change in the government’s failed policy to restore endangered wild salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.  The request comes in a letter released today, following U.S. District Judge James Redden ruling on August 2, 2011 finding the administration’s current salmon plan illegal.  Salmon are a mainstay of economies and jobs for the entire west coast.  The letter signers from across 34 states include commercial and recreational fishing businesses; outdoor retailers and equipment makers; food, farm, restaurant and tourism businesses; and clean energy businesses.Download this press release.

    “Commercial fishing businesses, and many other related industry jobs up and down the west coast will keep shrinking or shut down if the government’s 20-year failure to restore endangered Columbia/Snake salmon doesn’t change,” said Zeke Grader, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA). “We ask President Obama to hear our case, hear the court, and then change his salmon policy so salmon-based jobs stop shrinking and start growing.”

    “Sportfishing creates jobs in every town in our country, and Columbia/Snake salmon and steelhead underlie thousands of those jobs.  A practical, science-based, collaborative approach to restoring them will benefit people and salmon.  The court's ruling provides President Obama a great opportunity to pursue that approach,” said Gordon Robertson of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA).

    “Salmon recovery is a catalyst for job creation and growth in hundreds of outdoor and recreation-based companies, on the west coast and nationwide,” said John Sterling, Executive Director of The Conservation Alliance. “The more than 175 outdoor companies of The Conservation Alliance all need healthy habitats and watersheds for their customers to enjoy the products they make and sell, but federal salmon policy is not producing them.  We need President Obama to change this.  It makes no sense to keep spending billions of taxpayers’ dollars on a salmon policy that costs jobs instead of growing them.”

    “Wild salmon are a cornerstone for food and restaurant businesses,” said Barton Seaver, chef and National Geographic Fellow. “Customers expect fresh, nutritious, and sustainable salmon, which federal policies are not producing right now.  If President Obama changes them, food jobs and healthy eating will both benefit.”

    The 1000-plus businesses ask the President to begin collaborative talks among all stakeholders “to craft a lawful, science-based plan that restores salmon, protects this important food source, puts thousands of people to work, and helps to build a cleaner energy future.” Their letter is also being delivered to members of Congress.


    Amy Baird, Save Our Wild Salmon  (503) 230-0421 ext 13, related photos and factsheets available at --

    Glen Spain, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations(541) 689-2000,

  • Daily Astorian Editorial: Good news - There are chinook and coho seasons

    Monday, April 15, 2013

    3alaskan-troller.web“North of Falcon” might sound like the title of a Hardy Boys adventure novel, but it is the key to real-life adventures for thousands of real people who fish in Pacific Northwest maritime and coastal waters.

    The 2013 North of Falcon process was concluded last week at the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s meeting in Portland. Council members conduct weeks of meetings leading up to this decision each year, with PFMC staff putting in much additional preparation time. Interested parties avidly monitor the entire process.

    The good news is there will be seasons for Chinook and coho salmon in the Columbia River, coastal watersheds and offshore waters. This has not always been the case and it is no small thing. For example, subject to change as salmon runs develop, the iconic Buoy 10 recreational salmon season will start on its traditional date of Aug. 1. Until Sept. 1, there is a daily limit of two salmon, only one of which may be a Chinook. Other opportunities continue through the end of the year.

    However, the overall tenor of 2013 continues a long trend of essentially conservative seasons. Managers tend to react quickly to any negative trends, and slowly or not at all to unexpected strength in returns of hatchery-produced fish.

    This is a result of the need to rigorously protect any possible wild salmon mixed among the returnees. Minimizing the number of endangered fish that are hooked and injured before being released dictates a degree of caution that can sometimes be agonizing to fishermen and the businesses that depend on them.

    The worse news is that salmon returns continue to be little but a shadow of what they once were. The hydropower system, habitat degradation and barriers to passage, past management errors, ocean conditions and other factors all combine to produce seasons that are pathetic by historical standards.

    Although she is most familiar with the situation around Puget Sound, comments by the Swinomish Tribe’s fisheries manager are relevant throughout the Northwest:

    “Salmon habitat continues to be lost and damaged at an alarming rate, and this trend shows no signs of improvement. Every year it is increasingly difficult to develop fisheries that meet the needs of Indian and non-Indian fishermen while still protecting weak wild stocks. Conservative fisheries, such as those developed for this year, must go hand-in-hand with protecting and restoring habitat to return salmon to abundance.”

    Fixing degraded habitat is far easier said than done. It requires money and cooperation. But there are positive developments. Watershed restoration and preservation are now very much on the agenda. They are forethoughts rather than afterthoughts.

    Much has been lost that will never be recovered. But from a court order that requires significant culvert restorations in Washington to dam removals on the Elwha and Klamath rivers, incremental improvements are being made. These may or may not be enough to counteract damage elsewhere, but they are a start.

  • Lewiston Morning Tribune: Crowded conditions likely on Clearwater

    clearwater.steelheadBy Eric Barker of the Tribune, May 2, 2013

    Salmon anglers are accustomed to rising early, sometimes long before fishing hours, to ensure they get a prime spot.

    Those fishing the Clearwater River might be forced to go to even further extremes this year.

    A below-average return of spring chinook prompted the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to close long stretches of the river and to limit fishing to Fridays through Mondays.

    "They are going to shove a lot of people into a little area and everybody is going to be fighting for spots," said Toby Wyatt, owner of Reel Time Fishing of Clarkston. "It's going to be mayhem."

    The river will be closed to chinook fishing from Arrow Bridge to the mouth of the North Fork and from Greer Bridge to the mouth of the South Fork. The Lochsa River won't open at all and only a short section of the South Fork Clearwater, from the State Highway 13 bridge near the Harpster Grade to the State Highway 14 bridge near the Mount Idaho Grade, will be open.

    That will make for stiff competition when it comes to territory.

    "People who want to get in those holes are going to have to get there at 3 in the morning," Wyatt said.

    Joe DuPont, fisheries manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston, said some people will be forced to find new places to fish and others will contend with crowding at their favorite holes.

    "People used to fishing in one area might see people they haven't seen before, so yes, there is going to be a need for people to get along."

    He said the Clearwater regulations were designed to try to ensure the small number of chinook available for harvest are shared evenly over time and throughout the river system. This year's run, as measured at Bonneville Dam, got a late start. Fisheries managers like DuPont still don't know if the run is simply late, as it has been over the past few years, or weaker than expected.

    To make sure enough adults return to Clearwater River hatcheries to meet spawning targets, the department took a conservative approach to season setting. That means if the run is simply late, there is a chance there will be more fish to catch than expected.

    DuPont said the department prefers to loosen regulations if the strength of the run allows rather than to be overly optimistic and have to shut fishing down early.

    "I'm hoping we can expand areas and expand days, but I guess that is yet to be determined."

    Outfitter Jason Schultz of Hells Canyon Sport Fishing at Lewiston said he thinks there is some reason to believe the run might be stronger than the forecast used to set fishing regulations. According to his theory, fishing in the lower Columbia River in Oregon and Washington is concentrated on the early part of the run. Fish that return to Idaho have the furthest to swim, so they are generally the first to pulse through the lower Columbia and because of that they face heavy fishing pressure. But the Idaho fish that bring up the rear face less pressure downriver and have a better shot at reaching their destinations.

    "Over the years, it is making our run later and later and later," Schultz said.

    Evelyn Kaide, owner of the Guide Shop and Clearwater Drifters at Orofino, said planning for spring chinook fishing is nearly impossible.

    "We've had some really good years and some bad years and we've gotten stopped in the middle of the season and then had it reopen," she said. "Everyone of them has been different."

    Many outfitters like Kaide, Schultz and Wyatt book trips before the season starts and are now juggling to compensate for the days of the week fishing won't be allowed.

    "It's tough and it's very nerve-racking," Kaide said.

    But she said once people start fishing, they should try their best to get along and forget about the hassles of booking trips or getting their spots.
    "You just got to let it go and just fish," she said.

    For those looking to avoid the crowds, the vast stretches of lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers and the Snake River in Hells Canyon will be open seven days a week.

  • Oregonian Guest Opinion: Save the law that protects America's natural capital

    pcffa.gifFor commercial fishing families, the value of Northwest salmon is no abstract symbol. Salmon mean business.

    By Glen H. Spain
    July 13, 2013

    In this day and age, it's easy to fool oneself into thinking we humans somehow create wealth in factories or from computers.

    But in the end, we are all economically dependent on the same Earth, breathing the same air and drinking the same water. The natural world is the ultimate source of all human wealth -- and our own existence. This is our "natural capital." When we squander that, we are bankrupting future generations and potentially threatening our own survival.

    The Northwest's valuable salmon runs are a prime example. For some, salmon are a colorful icon -- a symbol of the Pacific Northwest.

    But for commercial fishing families, the value of Northwest salmon is no abstract symbol. Salmon mean business. It's about hardworking family fishing businesses, struggling to survive generation after generation.

    So commercial fishermen have a special relationship with the Endangered Species Act. On one hand, we are heavily regulated under the ESA, as we harvest the wealth of the oceans. Indeed, our industry probably has more day-to-day exposure to the ESA than does agriculture, timber or nearly any other industry.

    At the same time, the ESA safety net has proved to be the only thing standing against the extinction of these valuable fish species -- and the extinction of our way of life.

    Many once-abundant salmon runs are already extinct because of decades of pollution, habitat destruction, and blocked or dewatered rivers. It is, unfortunately, only the ESA that has halted declines of most of the rest of these valuable runs.

    Sometimes it's easy to despair over the future of wild salmon, but there are still bright spots. We are restoring the watersheds of the Klamath Basin and the Elwha River. The collapsed salmon runs in California's Central Valley and the Columbia River are slowly improving. Salmon in those rivers would be in far worse shape without the ESA driving much-needed reforms.

    Frankly, it's regrettable that we even have to resort to the ESA. We are a well-educated and technologically advanced nation. We should be more proactive. But the sad fact is, sometimes we avoid solving problems until the eleventh hour.

    Then the Endangered Species Act is a necessary tool -- all too often, the only tool -- for repairing 150 years of damage done to salmon-producing watersheds. The ESA looks after not only the top-of-the-food-chain species such as chinook salmon, but also the smaller, less charismatic species at the bottom of the food chain, like the Delta smelt. We are all part of the same web of life.

    The Endangered Species Act has bought some time for people to solve problems facing America's fisheries and waterways. Today, as it celebrates its 40th birthday, the ESA remains one of the most popular federal laws on the books.

    Yes, saving an endangered species can force some people to change the way they do things. And for that, the ESA has earned some enemies. A small cadre of politicians would like to quietly gut the ESA. They don't say it outright, but that is the end result of their piecemeal legislative endeavors.

    The American people should reject the false tradeoff between conservation and jobs. In the end, we are all in the same boat. We dare not let it sink. And I, for one, want salmon to still exist for our grandchildren.


    Glen H. Spain is Northwest regional director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, which fights for the long-term survival of commercial fishing as a way of life.

  • Outdoor Retailer is here!

    Outdoor Retailer is here!

    OR Show Party with OspreyIt’s that time of year again - time for the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City, Utah. Hosted every summer and winter by the Outdoor Industry Association, the OR Show provides an awesome networking opportunity within the industry and a chance to check out what products and services are catching consumer’s attention.

    As a coalition long backed by the outdoor industry, we’re heading down to check in with our existing supporters and hopefully meet some new ones, spreading the word that healthy salmon and rivers are great for business and the environment.

    There’s a well-timed cover story on High Country News right now by Greg Hanscom that asks, “Can the outdoor gear industry wield its power for conservation?” As one of the beneficiaries of businesses taking a stand for conservation issues, we emphatically answer: YES.

  • Paul Fish: Salmon Super Hero

    blog 120220 paul fish mountain gearMountain Gear and its President Paul Fish of Spokane, WA were honored recently at the 2012 Winter Outdoor Retailer Show as the Sustainable Retailer of the Year. SNEWS and Backpacker Magazine presented the award, which honors outdoor retailers that embody the spirit of entrepreneurship and serve as visionaries for the outdoor market and as leaders in the communities they serve.

    Said Fish of the award, “We follow sustainable models at Mountain Gear because it’s the right thing to do. But this award also serves notice that these initiatives are good for business. The notion of sustainability is more than the rainwater we reclaim to water our grounds, it’s more than our compost pile and our garden. It extends to the business model, too. If we’re ethical and transparent we earn the trust of our employees, customers, vendors, and communities. That is sustainability.”

    Read the full article about the award at this link.

    Save Our wild Salmon has been honored to have Paul’s support for many years. Paul knows that a health environment means a healthy economy, and that wild salmon are critical for both. He’s carried this philosophy through his business model and is a true shining example of a sustainable business.

    Congratulations to Paul Fish and Mountain Gear!

    Mountain Gear was one of nearly 1,200 American businesses that signed our Salmon Mean Business lettercalling on President Obama to try a new approach in NW salmon restoration. You can alsoread Paul’s recent guest blog for us about why salmon restoration is so critical for our economy.

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