In response to the continued decline of wild and endangered salmon populations, along with dependent species like orca whales, a bill to prohibit the use of non-tribal gill nets was introduced in the Washington Senate today. Twenty-four Senators have already signed on as co-sponsors of the bill, reflecting the need for urgent action to address the continued use of indiscriminate commercial gear in Washington state waters.
“The use of gill nets in state salmon fisheries has been controversial for decades and now is the time to remove them state-wide, before it is simply too late,” said Gary Loomis, founder of the Coastal Conservation Association in the Pacific Northwest. “We applaud the senators who have signed onto the bill and urge all of our elected officials in the state of Washington to seize this moment to ensure our iconic salmon fisheries have the best opportunity to survive for future generations.”
Gill nets are incapable of selectively harvesting fin-clipped hatchery salmon and releasing wild and endangered salmon unharmed. They also ensnare dozens of non-target wildlife and fish species, including steelhead and sturgeon. The gear continues to be used by a small number of commercial operators, even though there are sustainable and selective methods available for commercial salmon harvest.
“Our region has invested billions in wild salmon recovery efforts and the use of indiscriminate fishing gear in our state’s non-tribal fisheries all but erases those efforts,” said Nello Picinich, Executive Director of CCA Washington. “Our members have worked intensively on salmon recovery for years and we see this legislation as the best option available for the fish, recreational anglers and other species that depend on healthy salmon populations to survive. This is a critical moment for salmon in the Pacific Northwest.”