Wednesday, May 18 2022

By Matthew Zylstra / [email protected]

Fish was the focus on Saturday night at Jester’s Auto Museum and Event Center, where the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) hosted a fundraising banquet to support its conservation activities.

The banquet, served by Jim’s Smokehouse, consisted of both a silent auction and a live auction, with the latter including both a dessert and a more general component.

After the auction ended, Nello Picinich, executive director of the CCA’s Washington State Chapter, discussed fundraising, the CCA, and their political accomplishments during the US legislative session. State of this year. Picinich, who described CCA’s mission as “to protect and preserve our marine resources for future generations,” said the banquet was attended by about 160 people, about two-thirds of the 250 to 300 people they attended. received at their banquets. before the COVID pandemic. However, he considered the turnout a good sign considering Saturday’s event was the organization’s first since the pandemic began.

He also highlighted four legislative achievements of the legislative session that ended on March 10. Picinich said the voluntary buyout of gillnets was the group’s biggest achievement of the session. He also cited funding research into gillnet fatalities, creating a reporting requirement for the Puget Sound fishery, and funding to improve hatchery efficiency as other accomplishments.

Picinich said these four policy changes are part of the state government budget. He said Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, whom Picinich called at the banquet “one of our champions in the Senate,” was instrumental in securing their place in this supplementary budget. year as a member of the Senate. Ways and Means Committee. Picinich said he was pleased with the results of the session, but was hesitant to declare victory on those issues because the budget still needs to be signed by Gov. Jay Inslee, who could veto those particular budget provisions. .

Picinich also mentioned that the two state representatives from the 20th Legislative District were also helpful, noting in particular that Ed Orcutt was particularly helpful on the gillnet issue.

The CCA was brought to Washington in 2006 by Gary Loomis, a Lewis County native born and raised in Centralia who is something of a local celebrity among area fishing enthusiasts. While describing his childhood, he fondly recalls that the first elk he ever shot was featured in The Chronicle while attending Centralia High School in 1958.

Loomis described the CCA as both a restoration group, focused on trying to get fish back into the rivers, and a political group, seeking to educate politicians about what’s wrong with the fish population.

Loomis mentioned what he considered to be the two main contributors to the declining fish population in the area. The first problem was the mishandling of the issue by government officials. The second problem mentioned by Loomis was an increased population of predators. He specifically mentioned that seals and sea lions are also big consumers of native fish species in our area. In his view, seal and sea lion populations have increased due to well-intentioned and necessary legal protections at one time to prevent the extinction of these species, but have resulted in a population boom well above that. which is sure. for local fish populations. He also said each sea lion ate six to eight fish a day and there were now millions of them on the west coast.

When asked what he thought should be done about the population of seals and sea lions, Loomis said the government should allow their hunting until their populations are reduced to a level that does not not endanger the fish population.

Asked about US Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler’s recently enacted plan to protect fish populations by continuing to kill sea lions, Loomis said he did not believe the policy would be effective, saying it would not kill their population enough. He said the government must open legal hunting to reduce their population to necessary levels.

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