OLYMPIA – For the first time since a comprehensive economic report on Washington’s fishing industry was issued in 2008, the Senate Energy, Natural Resources and Marine Waters Committee hosted a work session analyzing jobs in the marine sector.
Committee members learned that commercial and recreational fishing combined account for over 16,000 jobs in Washington. When accounting for tribal fishing activities, the number grows even higher.
Congressman Norm Dicks, WA-6, and Billy Frank Jr., chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, also testified before the committee on the importance of fishing to Washington’s economy and communities.
"I applaud Chairman Ranker and the Senate Energy, Natural Resources, and Marine Waters Committee for holding the hearing to explore the economic importance of fisheries in our State," said Dicks. "I am proud of the collaboration between the federal, state, and tribal governments that has resulted in both new economic opportunities and continued progress on conservation and recovery of threatened and endangered marine species." Frank spoke to the cultural significance of fishing as a way of life while emphasizing the necessity for cooperation when it comes to maintaining a healthy environment for fish.
"For what's best for the economy, we should be focused on what’s best for the environment," said Frank. "We need to come together." Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, chair of the committee, echoed Frank’s concerns and hoped that the work session would create unity among those tied with the fishing industry.
"There are critical economic drivers associated with all types of fisheries, whether it be commercial, recreational or tribal," said Ranker. "While there are many numbers being discussed in terms of regional and fiscal impact, we should take notice that each of them make up a sizable portion of our state’s economy.
"It’s clear from this work session that we need to ensure the protection of our fishery resources through management decisions based upon sound science and that upkeep of all types of fisheries remains a top priority."