Two Gill Nets Spotted on Columbia: Scapegoating Sea Lions for Human Error

I was walking along the docks down by the Columbia river this morning, when I happened upon a disturbing sight. Two boats that I did not recognize were moored down there. And they had great, hideous gill nets dripping from drums, peering over the sides of the boats.

This is a strange thing to see, and you will not see it on any other river in the US. Gill nets, you see, are dirty pool. Particularly on a river, where nothing can get out of their way. They trail out behind fishing boats in great swaths, ensnaring anything in the water. They kill fish, seals, water birds, otter, beaver, and anything else that becomes entangled in their snagging webs. They are so dangerous and so devastating to wildlife, that they are not legal on any other river in this country. Yet for some bizarre reason, here in Cascadia, on a river in which some of the most endangered fish on earth are making their very last stand, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) allow these nets. Even as plans are afoot to begin slaughtering sea lions on the Columbia, to "save" salmon, the gill nets are still dragging the river.

There is only one day left to be heard on this issue, by the way. The deadline for public comments on whether or not sea lions will be killed is tomorrow. You can email them here: Or you can call them here: contact Garth Griffin, 503-231-2005.

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