LETTER: State giving halibut to commercial industry

Posted 4/4/17

The halibut resolutions passed by the ports of Port Townsend, Port Angeles and the City of Sequim were necessary to help local recreational fishermen on the Olympic Peninsula fish for halibut without …

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LETTER: State giving halibut to commercial industry

Posted

The halibut resolutions passed by the ports of Port Townsend, Port Angeles and the City of Sequim were necessary to help local recreational fishermen on the Olympic Peninsula fish for halibut without the potential loss of life and property.

The halibut season should be based on a specific number of fish per angler during the spring and summer. Don’t pick three days where the weather and tides can be extremely dangerous and call that a fishing season. The problem for locals is that the big, multibillion-dollar commercial fishing industry wants to keep all the halibut, and we are frustrated by the State of Washington selling out to those commercial fishing interests.

I belong to the local chapter of Puget Sound Anglers. Many of our members regularly attend the public government meetings on the halibut and salmon seasons to educate ourselves and to submit our comments and recommendations, but nothing happens. Each year, we have fewer and fewer days on the water to fish, and the state gives more and more of the halibut to the commercial fishing industry. This is not fair, especially since recreational fishermen spend approximately $35 million in licenses and excise tax annually while fishing in Washington. This is 27 times that of the commercial industry contribution. Recreational licenses are the largest source of revenue for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and it is our dollars that fund the majority of the department’s conservation efforts. Further, the coast-wide limit of 31.4 million pounds of halibut represents a 5.1 percent increase over the prior year. Yet Puget Sound’s limit only increased just over 1 percent, with the remaining 4 percent going to commercial interests. Our only hope is asking help from organizations like the Port of Port Townsend which genuinely care about the citizens of Jefferson County.

RON HAYES

Port Townsend

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