An encouraging development emerged from Olympia this week, with 24 Washington State senators sponsoring a bill to buy out and retire all non-tribal gillnetting permits for Washington waters. Remember there are only 49 senators in the entire chamber, so the 24 sponsors puts this bill just a handful of votes away from passing out of the gate! [Since our publication of this story, sharp-eyed readers have pointed out that three additional sponsors have been added for a total of 27. -Ed]
This is a huge opportunity to cement and extend the progress that has been made in efforts to sunset gillnets out of the main-stem Columbia River. This bill is a step forward for fish, orcas, selective fisheries statewide, and will reduce the invisible plague of ghost nets in state waters.
We are under no illusions that this change will be a magic salve for the fish, orcas, or our salmon habitat, it’s a single step in the right direction. While we enthusiastically support changes to selective fisheries, we would be remiss if we didn’t state the obvious caution: this change will not have a magical impact on our collapsing Puget Sound salmon ecosystem. This is a multi-dimensional problem — and success lies in paring selective fisheries with substantial changes in the other three H’s (Habitat, Hydro, Hatchery Policy). Those changes will require greater political will and costs than this SB 5617, so keep your helmets on, there is much more to do.
But let’s not let the perfect become the enemy of the good. This is a good change, and we are excited to see so many senators participating in fisheries issues. Please take some action to support them!
First, we encourage you to read the bill, it’s only 7 pages long: SB 5617
Next, we strongly encourage you to offer your support RIGHT HERE
Finally share this story to your friends, family and on social media. Get the word out!!!
For clarity sake, we should point out that this ban will only affect non-tribal fishers, and surely that will be a source of frustration for some. But this is a moment to remind ourselves to not let the perfect become the enemy of the good. SB 5617 is a good bill, and it deserves your support!