Group Hails ‘Salmon Stimulus Plan’

It wasn’t just ODFW that benefited financially from increased fish runs in the Northwest. A regional angling organization says the “Salmon Stimulus Plan” has helped out a number of businesses during otherwise difficult economic times.

“Boat sales are improving, which is helping regional boat builders and dealers,” says the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association. “Retail tackle sales have been brisk. Rod, reel and tackle manufacturers are ramping up, adding workforce and looking forward to a much better year. And fishing guides, hotels, restaurants have all been the beneficiaries of fishing opportunity that provided much-needed stimulus to those businesses that depend on salmon and steelhead fishing opportunity around the region.”

While 2009 saw Oregon unemployment as high as 11.6 percent, according to the state Employment Department, ODFW sold the most fishing licenses of the decade, 303,267, 30,000 more than the next closest year, 2007, when unemployment bottomed out in the low 5s, we reported in May.

According to the press release, one two-store Portland outdoors store began “seeing significant gains in business volume” around the time the Buoy 10 Chinook and coho fishery at the mouth of the Columbia started picking up steam.

“It really hasn’t slowed down,” added Dan Grogan, president of Fisherman’s Marine & Outdoor, in a press release statement. “Fall fishing was OK, but the winter steelhead fishery this past January, February and March along with the anticipation of a large return of spring Chinook kept people coming through our doors and spending money. I can’t stress how important these fisheries are to our business and all of our vendors’ businesses … it’s huge.”

As for boat sales, uncertainty with the spring Chinook fishery last year combined with a severe economic downturn produced a “punishing one-two blow” to Stevens Marine in Portland, said president Paul Mayer.

“The fact is, that when there’s meaningful fishing opportunity for salmon and steelhead in the Northwest we sell boats – lots of them,” he stated in the release.

The same good fishing last summer seems to have carried over to this year and has anglers thinking about buying boats again, Mayer said.

“Followed by the news that spring Chinook fishing was expected to be good – that really tipped the market over and we’ve seen a much better business climate and results in 2010 than we had in 2009,” he said.

This year’s expectations are also high, starting with the first Chinook fishery in two years off most of the Oregon coast, a very large forecasted summer steelhead run up the Columbia as well as over a month of fishing for summer kings in the big river.

“We’ve dubbed this year ‘The salmon stimulus plan,’ thanks to consistently good fishing that is putting hundreds of people back to work and creating important business opportunities that had been lost the past couple of years,” said Liz Hamilton, NSIA’s executive director.

She hoped Oregon legislators would see the economic benefits the fisheries were generating, “literally tens of millions of dollars to this state and millions more in added tax base, and move quickly to assure the future of these iconic Columbia Basin salmon runs that feed so many communities.”

Hamilton said the state’s leadership in pushing for spilling more water in the Columbia River to aid the downstream passage of salmon and steelhead smolts and fishing policies and seasons that produce big returns “really does pay off.”

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