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Old 06-05-2000, 01:43 PM   #1
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Default Bah, BS

Astoria salmon fisherman tries a different kind of net

Tooth nets may catch as many fish as gill nets and allow for
greater releases of live, unwanted fish

Sunday, June 4, 2000

By Mike Stark of The Associated Press

ASTORIA -- In a fast-flowing spot just off Rice Island, fisherman
Frank Tarabochia leans into the bow of his boat and tosses what
might be the future of local commercial salmon fishing into the
Columbia River.

Northwest Endangered Fish Follow the debate as the Pacific
Northwest region struggles to preserve salmon and trout for
future generations.

The net stretches out behind the boat and Tarabochia, like
generations of gill-netters before him, settles into the boat's
cabin for a slug of coffee.

So far on this spring morning, the fishing has been slim -- a
decent-sized chinook salmon and a dozen or so shad.

The yield isn't typical for Tarabochia, a seasoned commercial
fisherman who started picking Columbia River salmon out of gill
nets during the Eisenhower administration.

Fishing on the river isn't what it used to be. A hundred years
ago, boats nudged gunnel to gunnel near the mouth of the Columbia
to capture thousands of plump salmon headed for upriver spawning

Drastic declines later last century pushed 13 salmon and
steelhead stocks into protection under the federal Endangered
Species Act.

Industry at crossroads Paltry runs and federal restrictions have
left the struggling local commercial salmon industry at a
crossroads: adapt or continue to whither away.

The experimental net trailing behind Tarabochia's boat might help
fishermen carve a new life into the once-legendary salmon fishery.

Over the last month, Tarabochia and fellow gill-netter Alan
Takalo participated in an experiment with the Oregon Department
of Fish and Wildlife to find out whether a new kind of fishing
gear -- one that snags salmon by the mouth instead of the gills
-- will allow fishermen to catch certain fish while letting
others go.

Tarabochia, initially skeptical of the new gear, now says he
thinks the new net might be the best shot at catching hatchery
salmon and others while complying with federal restrictions to
protect listed fish.

"I think this is what it's going to take if you want to fish with
all these endangered fish."

Catch 'em by the teeth The idea behind tooth nets -- also called
tangle nets -- is simple: catch salmon by the teeth, or ridges
around the mouth. Unlike gill nets, which snag salmon around the
gills and bodies as they veer into the nets, tooth nets are meant
to capture salmon and keep them alive longer in the water.

Paul Hirose, a biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and
Wildlife, is leading the state's effort to find out whether the
tooth nets will ensure that fishermen still catch as many fish as
conventional nets while allowing protected fish to be tossed back
with little or no harm.

There are still fish to be caught in the Columbia River, Hirose
said, but it has to be done carefully.

"We want to accommodate what's out there," he said.

The work is part of ongoing research into "selective fishing" --
finding ways to fish for certain kinds of salmon while not
damaging protected populations.

Not so new in Canada Although tooth net research in Oregon is
fairly new, a commercial fisherman in Canada has been
experimenting with it for years.

In 1996, Mark Petrunia, a gill-netter on Canada's Fraser River,
decided to try to catch salmon with a smaller gill net usually
used for oolichan. He hoped the three-inch mesh would snag chum
by their teeth or jaws and allow for live release of other fish
like sockeye, coho, steelhead and sturgeon.

At the end of one experiment, Petrunia said he caught 592 coho
salmon in the tooth net and was able to release 516 alive.
Seventy were killed by seals and six died in the net.

Meanwhile, he caught more than 1,000 chum.

Hirose was hoping to see the same kind of success on the Columbia

ODFW hired Tarabochia and Takalo to give the tooth net a try and
see how it compares to gill-net gear. Hanging like a long curtain
in the water, the net used in the experiment is divided in two:
one half with a conventional gill net with 6 inch diamond holes
and the tooth tangle net, with 3 inch gaps.

Slow day on river Tarabochia and Hirose are hoping that the
tooth net catches at least as many spring chinook as the gill
net. But on this day, only a couple chinook crash into the net.

More than anything, Tarabochia ends up picking shad out of the
tooth net. The non-native fish is the most abundant in the
Columbia, but the limited West Coast market hardly makes it worth
pulling them into the boat.

Nearly a dozen sturgeon also get caught up in the net. By the end
of the day, only two salmon are pulled in -- one in the tooth
net, the other in the gill net.

Although it's an uncharacteristically slow day, it adds a few
bits of information to the overall experiment.

Seven trips in May with the nets showed that the experimental
gear caught about the same number of salmon as the gill nets.

In all, 19 live chinook and four dead ones are caught in the
tooth net. The conventional net brought in 20 live chinook and
three dead.

More information needed There isn't enough information to draw
solid conclusions from the Columbia River experiments, but Hirose
is happy with what he has seen.

"It's been very successful in showing what we wanted to show,
basically the effectiveness of the gear," he said.

On the other side of the river, the Washington Department of Fish
and Wildlife is preparing similar tooth net experiments in
August, one in Suquamish and another in Puyallup.

Tooth nets and selective fishing techniques, such as drifting
trap nets, will give commercial fishermen more fish to catch and
reduce the number of adult surplus fish at local hatcheries, said
Geraldine Vander Haegen, a state biologist.

"This could be a good opportunity for commercial fishers to
selectively take hatchery fish and release wild fish."

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Old 06-05-2000, 01:51 PM   #2
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Default Re: Bah, BS

Don't knock it until you've seen it. I have in Canada. They have a fresh-live salmon market. The mortality rate is similar to the sport fleets releasing natives! Lets the commercials access the hatchery fish just as the sports will. Ignorance is not always bliss.

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Old 06-05-2000, 04:50 PM   #3
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Default Re: Bah, BS

The best way to preserve our fish is to remove the nets from inland waters. The end of the article says it all. More hatchery fish for the commercial fisherman and less for the sport fisherman. Thank you department of fish and wildlife.
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Old 06-05-2000, 06:05 PM   #4
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Default Re: Bah, BS

Nets of any kind(excluding indian dip nets) should be banned from inland waters as well as the oceans. Building a "better mouse trap" for commercial fishing is still wrong.

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Old 06-05-2000, 07:30 PM   #5
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Why isn't their more effort put into commercial salmon farming? Grow your own dam fish. I'm sure they would be easier to catch in a pond.
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Old 06-05-2000, 07:38 PM   #6
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I am appalled by the animosity I see posted on this thread. Where does it stem from? I have had the opportunity to work with some of the commercial groups in the past, and I can say that I don't/haven't seen that kind of reverse attitude from them. Maybe some of you don't realize that if it wasn't for the Columbia River Fishermans Protective Union (commercial fishing union) that there wouldn't be fish ladders at Bonneville. The intial plans proposed by the Army Corps. didn't include them. They believed the fish would pass through the locks!!! The Union lobbied for a better way for the fish to pass the dams, fish ladders!

From ODFW and WDFW status reports, on good return years there is plenty of fish for both users. A sport fleet can't nearly be as effective in catching the whole allotted fish, so a commercial fishery helps out. I didn't read anywhere in that article that this meant less fish for the sport fishery. Didn't ODFW spend a considerable amount of money having a guide fish above the deadline at Willamette falls to study the mortality of releasing springers?? Sounds like a equal program for the commercials to me.


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Old 06-05-2000, 07:39 PM   #7
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Even though somewhat self interest, I have to agree with F. John & N. R. B. The "tooth net" may be more selective but not enough (19 live 4 dead in the tooth net & 20 live and 3 dead in the gill net- sport C&R has less than 7% mortality). Why is it that some comm. netters have the mentality that they have unique intrinsic rights to per capita mass harvest dwindling fish runs while us sportfishers are being increasingly cut out of opportunity (they are likely to take Col. fall seasons away and wouldn't consider a quota on the excess springers there this year). Did the government sign a stupid wrongful treaty with a few comm. netters back in the 1800's that I didn't hear about? We don't have great numbers of salmon to fish for anymore! Also, salmon farming is now so successful in places such as B.C. (B.C. Farm Chinook & Steelhead) and many areas over in the Atlantic countries for farmed Atlantic salmon, as well as the abundant seine net fisheries in Alaska, that there is now no more market need for commercial take of sportfish here in the N.W.! Commercial netters are a dwindling breed that should be continued to be bought out by the goverment. Not be encouraged to find more ways to unnecessarily net our fish. And we have the lowest unemployment rate in decades with a "workers market" (many employers are having to recruit employees). Time for the netters to get other work and buy a sportfishing license like the vast majority of us have to do.- RT - Edit: Slider- I think any animosity you sense toward netting is targeted at the consequenses, not the individuals. And there are plenty of both sportsters and commercials with either good or bad attitudes. Do you recall a post thread by Bill H. about the very rude aninmosity treatment he and other Youngs Bay sportmen got from some of the comm. springer/coho netters there? Much worse than from any sportsmen; but that is still an individual thing more than a group thing. And in this era of dwindling salmon runs, despite a short cyclical upturn this year & next (predicted to go back down after that), we definitely don't need any help to from netters (who get first crack at the fish downriver, before sportsmen do) to maximize hatchery run kill! Particularly when it is not necessary as stated above! As for the studies on catch & release mortality on Willamette springers, the ODFW has determined that total mortality, including improperly handled/released salmon, was less than 7%. A figure that any kind of netting cannot match, for the cause of saving the dwindling native fish runs! I will give you just one example, from countless destructive netting losses: Thru the 70's & 80's us sportfishers used to catch good, but declining, numbers of very large native winter steelhead on the Clackamas R. Many of us practiced C&R trying to save those stocks. Now they are all but gone. The biggest reason was that these later arriving big natives came up the Columbia R. at the same time (Feb./Mar.) that the commercial gillnetters were targeting primarily hatchery springers. There is documented proof that the mesh sizes took out most of these large steelhead. We just don't see them on the Clack. (and other rivers) anymore, because they are irreplacable! Now there is some strong animosity toward the consequences! - RT - EDITED

[This message has been edited by RT (edited 06-06-2000).]
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Old 06-05-2000, 08:06 PM   #8
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I would like to know where you came up your generalities in the marketing of commercially caught fish. I have also had experience in dealing with fish processors and they can tell you that the market is not satisfied with farmed fish. They want fish raised in the wild. Why has Canada spent so much money on this tooth net program? Because nobody wants the fish? Probably not. Also, most of those fish caught in Alaska never end up in the USA, they end up in foreign markets.

I really have a hard time with this notion that the sports spend more money, so they should get all the fish. Well, the commercials were here first. Or maybe the next time I show up at sport craft everyone who makes less than me will move aside? Sounds pretty ridiculous to me. What comes next, the person with the 45K jet sled can catch more fish than the guy who owns the $750 skiff? It needs to end someplace, this ego-centrical who makes more nonsense just put us two steps back in the fight for the fish. Negativity only defeats the real purpose.


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Old 06-05-2000, 08:22 PM   #9
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Huh??? - I really dislike the "were here first" arguments. Even in the rare cases that it's true; and then it was for people that no longer exist. Present factors are what's important. - A couple other points Slider; if what you say about Alaska salmon were true about most of it going overseas, that would only be if the markets were adequately covered down here. If greater prices were available overseas for AK salmon, they'd be greater for B.C. & Atlantic salmon too. Yet there is plenty of it all in the markets here all the time. Enough that some of it that doesn't get sold fresh in time gets frozen or smoked before it spoils, for later sale! The consensus best tasting, and the most expensive, salmon in the world is Alaska's Copper River Kings. During that commercial AK season those are in the markets HERE! I personally see it all over every spring. I'm a life long salmon coniseur and the second best salmon I've ever eaten (many others agree) has consistently been B.C. farmed Kings! And I've eaten fresh salmon from everywhere (except Syberia); including same day as caught out of such as AK's Kenai, NW B.C., Columbia & coastal springers, and ocean trolled.-- And if you think that hatchery springers are needed to satisfy local markets, then you should know that a majority of the excess fish are graded to be of very good human consumption quality at hatchery arrival! If the hatchery has enough for propegation, then the extra can go to market if needed. If not, they are often recycled downriver to give the challenged sportfishermen another chance at them. Thus we certainly don't need comm. netters to net them downstream of sportfishermen for this purported reasoning (as I mentioned, Comm. netters don't really have some kind of intrinsic right to mass fish unlike the majority of us, as some think they do). And if tooth netting were ever proven to have a reasonable survival rate on released fish (and they haven't; 19 live 4 dead and no info on later dying of released tooth tangled fish yet!), I wonder how many native salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon would just happen to wind up as "incidental mortality catch"? Hmmm. - RT

[This message has been edited by RT (edited 06-06-2000).]
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Old 06-05-2000, 09:49 PM   #10
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Okay, maybe farmed fish won't satisfy the entire market, but shouldn't we then be spendng money, not on netting hatchery fish, but on finding ways to increase the farm raised salmon? There is no distinguishable difference, if the fish is raised properly, between farm raised and caught fish. I take my kids to the Rainbow Trout Farm in Sandy a couple of times every summer. We go to the pond with nothing but large trout. I'll tell you what, it's some of the best trout I've ever eaten, and it's farm raised. At the Sandy trout farm, they focus on quality, and feed the fish well, with quality feed containing a significant amount of shrimp meal, which results in firm, pink, flavorful flesh. I've caught similar sized hatchery brood trout when they plant them in the winter, and the taste doesn't even come close. It's only slightly more at the trout farm than at the grocery store, and there is recreational value as well. I have bought plenty of farm raised salmon at the store, and not only is the price less, but the quality is just as good as netted salmon. I work in the restauran industry, and most of the salmon consumed in restaurants is farm raised, because it has a consistent quality as far as quality, sizing, and availability. If it's good enough for restaurants, which are very quality conscious because repeat business depends upon it, why isn't it good enough for grocery stores and canneries? I'll tell you why... it's snob appeal and unwillingness to undergo the expense and inconvenience of changing production methods. Laziness in other words. They want to continue to make an easy profit at the expense of the envirnonment. I have nothing against the guy who wants to make a living doing what he loves, but when I read in the paper that Indian and commercial netters aren't making much money because the price paid by the processors is too low, I begin to wonder why they stick with it. I don't really blame the little guy at the bottom, I blame the big guy at the top for the greed that destroys both the fish stocks, through overfishing, and the little guy at the bottom by dropping the price when the catch comes in. Wouldn't it be better for both to switch to aquaculture? I remember when I lived in California in the early 80's, the local cannery closed just as the fleet was bringing in their albacore. They closed because the guys who owned them found cheaper supplies of fish, and screwed everyone in the search of greater profits. Hell, that's the way my boss thinks, and I hate my boss. The fleet was selling fresh albacore right off the boats for a couple of bucks apiece to recoup some of their expenses. It made for some really nice barbeques, but I would sure have hated to be in their position.

Nuff said!


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Old 06-06-2000, 05:45 PM   #11
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So, people won't eat farm raised salmon? What do you think about not having any choice. At the rate WE are consuming natural resources. Here's a odd thought, who deserves to catch the last salmon? A gill netter trying to make a buck or a sportsfisherperson trying to feed their family? I would bet a true sportsfisherperson would release it in hopes of another chance.
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