Clatsop County wants its voice heard on the fishing controversy.

The county Board of Commissioners held a special meeting Thursday night to approve a resolution and order opposing a new allocation plan for the Columbia chinook salmon harvest.

The move comes on the eve of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission's consideration of a plan that would change the way Columbia River chinook salmon catch allowances are split between sport and commercial fisheries.

Washington's commission will consider the plan Saturday.

A committee made up of members of both commissions - and established in September - was charged with recommending the catch-share plan, a controversial decision typically made every two years that pits sport and commercial fishers against each other.

The plan the committee is now recommending would create a new system of dividing up a small percentage of wild fish impacts between sport and commercial boats. Both groups need a cushion of incidental wild fish impacts in order to target hatchery salmon stocks.

Opponents of the plan say it favors recreational fishing at the expense of commercial gillnetters. Though it allows for almost a 50/50 split during harvest seasons with a high return, when the return is low it could reduce the commercial take to 15 percent.

Resolutions condemning the plan were already passed by Warrenton and Astoria city commissioners and the Port of Astoria.

The Clatsop County Board's ad hoc Thursday afternoon meeting was attended personally by three commissioners - Vice Chairwoman Ann Samuelson and Commissioners John Raichl and Jeff Hazen - and telephonically by Chairwoman Patricia Roberts and Commissioner Sam Patrick.

The members unanimously voted to approve the resolution and authorized Samuelson to sign it. Raichl will hand-deliver the document to the Oregon fish and wildlife commission this morning before it considers the plan.

As fishermen - both commercial and sport - head for the river to catch hatchery-raised salmon, they are aware they must release any wild Chinook they catch. Because it is an endangered species, only 2 percent of the entire wild Chinook run is available for the incidental catch.

Every two years the state commissions decide how best to divide the chinook salmon harvest, and every two years the commercial and sport fishermen find themselves in a zero-sum game that puts them at odds with each other. The allocations of wild salmon impacts determine how long each group is allowed to catch hatchery fish.

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