Three Newport Port Commissioners got an earful of opinions from local mid-water commercial fishermen and others Tuesday night down on the Bayfront.
Over 80 fishermen, longshoremen and others affiliated with the fishing industry showed up at the yachat club to tell the Newport Port Commission that they feel left out of the port’s plans in that the port seems to be focusing on bringing back heavy shipping to Newport at the expense of the Newport fishing fleet, the largest in Oregon and which is a major contributor to the Newport area economy.
Fishermen reminded the commission that a promise was made a number of months ago that as the port began negotiations with the shipping industry, scheduling access to the International Terminal would be formulated to serve both the shipping industry and the fishing fleet.
Fishermen said, “That collaborative effort never happened.”
Fishermen told the three out of the five commissioners present that their fishing seasons are set by law and have firm schedules. They said they need time for vessel maintenance and gear changes from November 1st to January 10th, and again from April 1st to May 15th. The rest of the time they’re out at sea making a living. They asked the commission to understand that the Newport area needs the fishermen’s major contribution to the Newport economy as much as the fishermen need reasonable access to docking facilities for gear changes and repairs.
The Port of Newport has been negotiating with Teevin Brothers, a well established log export outfit based in Warrenton. They’ve teamed up with Silvan, which brokers logs to China. Between the two and the port they’ve been devising a deal to where the port could secure sufficient funding to finish the International Terminal to handle foreign exports including raw logs and perhaps eventually Willamette Valley agricultural products. It appears that a deal is close but now the fishing fleet is basically asking, “But what about us? We pump millions of dollars a year into the Newport area economy. Doesn’t that account for something?”
The upshot of the meeting is that the port commissioners agreed to a closer examination of the situation for fishermen, the port and the joint efforts of Teevin Brothers and Silvan. And that any final decision on the port’s direction for the terminal should be made by the full commission. Tuesday night there were only three commissioners – the chairman and two commissioners – two commissioners who were replaced in the last election. The mid-water trawlers group pressed the commission to allow the newly elected commissioners to take their seats at the table and have them join the negotiations with the fishing fleet, Teevin Brothers, Silvan and the port.
No date yet set.