Here is the recent letter to the editor by Ed Owens from the Aberdeen Daily World. Draw your own conclusions but the rural inland ( I will highlight ) bit that commercial harvest benefits them is so far past hysterically funny that it almost gives the word hysterical a new meaning!

By Ed Owens

The OpEd “Creating a world-class sport fishing industry in Washington” recently published in The Daily World makes disturbing – and less than accurate – statements. The authors of this OpEd assert that “recreational fishers contribute vastly more income to our state’s economy …” than commercial interests and further state that “Overall, recreational fishing is a $1 billion industry in Washington.” Dr. Hans Radtke, a natural resource economist from Oregon, published a comprehensive study on Washington commercial fisheries in January 2011 documenting $3.9 billion in economic activity by all commercial fisheries in Washington State.

NOAA’s Fisheries of the United States 2013 report, the most recent available, shows that in 2013 commercial landings in Washington made the state the third largest harvester by volume in the nation and fifth largest by dollar value. B&O, excise and retail/wholesale taxes (for fuel, ice, supplies and equipment, etc.) generated by $3.9 billion dollars in economic activity are substantial and are returned to the state general fund. All tax revenues sent to the general fund contribute to the ability of the state to provide a positive and healthy capital budget for schools, roads and other societal priorities. The fleets have long argued that some portion of this substantial revenue stream should be diverted to the state Department of Fish &Wildlife, but the Legislature steadfastly has refused because of the need to prove to bond markets the ability to repay debt – a general fund obligation.

In short, the argument that less than half of 1 percent in contributions to the Fish &Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Account by commercial fishing justifies a dramatic shift in public policy is grossly misleading. The authors argue that sport fishing contributes the largest dollar amount to the Wildlife Account therefore sport fishers deserve special priority. Of the total Wildlife Account revenues earned in FY14 ($51.8 million), 35 percent were derived from hunting licenses and endorsements, 42 percent were derived from recreational fishing licenses and endorsements, and 23 percent were derived from Discover Pass, Non-Game licenses, Firearm Permits, Watchable Wildlife decals, and transaction fees. Caution in the use of the sport fishing numbers is appropriate as about $8 million of these revenues are for freshwater fisheries, $1.2 million for shellfish licenses and about $2 million from temporary or limited opportunity licenses (such as charter boat one and three day salmon tags).

To properly assess “rural” impacts I direct your attention to a recent study by the Port of Grays Harbor demonstrating that commercial fishing is considerably more valuable to rural Grays Harbor than sport fishing. There are other items I could discuss to illustrate the stated and implied inaccuracies in this OpEd but the examples presented illustrate my point.

In closing, please allow me to observe that the proponents of “sports priority” have taken similar arguments to the voters on multiple occasions – and the voters have been abundantly clear that they do not support several hundred thousand sport fishing enthusiasts controlling access to fisheries resources owned by all the citizens. Why? One observation is that six plus million residents of the state enjoy the bounty of the oceans and they don’t fish for these resources themselves.

Ed Owens is a former Research Director and State Director of the WSU Small Business Development Center is and now a retired natural resources consultant and lobbyist with more than 45 years experience advocating for numerous hunting, sport and commercial fishing and wildlife conservation organizations in Washington State and the Pacific Northwest.Coming to a Point — In... - See more at: