Dear Washington Fish and Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind,
We urge you to allow commercial fishers to fish sustainably in the lower Columbia River by approving the use of fish traps through the Emerging Commercial Fishery process.
Since 1934, commercial fishers have been limited to two options, fish with gill nets known to harm wild salmon and steelhead recovery or don’t fish at all. New research has shown that contemporary fish trap designs allow fishers to safely release wild salmon and steelhead with nearly 100% survival rates, and show the greatest potential of any other gear type to further improve to completely eliminate bycatch mortality for all wild salmon and steelhead.
Legalizing fish traps would finally provide commercial fishers with a sustainable alternative to gill nets, and is a common-sense next step toward a truly sustainable fishery that would aid in the recovery of wild salmon, steelhead, Southern Resident killer whales, and revitalize the economies of coastal fishing communities.
We support the legalization of fish traps which would:
Allow commercial fishers that strive to fish sustainably to have the opportunity to use sustainable alternatives to gill nets (i.e., don’t force fishers to only use gill nets).
Allow fishers to safely release wild salmon and steelhead for the first time with alternative gears.
Give fishers a chance to innovate with alternative gears to further reduce bycatch impacts and add-value to harvested products.