by Associated Press
PORTLAND -- Three operators of marine businesses whose customers catch salmon for sport say they will no longer buy parts from a member of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission who voted to increase the percentage commercial fleets can take.
The commission member, John Englund, distributes boat parts from Portland. He was in the majority earlier this month when the commission voted 4-3 on the allocation of Columbia River spring chinook salmon.
Last year, sport fishermen got 60 percent. On Jan. 6, the panel reduced that to 55 percent. The rest go to the commercial gill-netting fleet.
The protesters said in letters that Englund's businesses get much of their income from commercial customers.
"These changes are a direct hit to my business and a direct benefit to yours," wrote Dan Grogan, president of Fishermen's Marine & Outdoor of Portland.
He said he was canceling his orders with Englund's parts business and Englund Marine Supply, an Astoria-based chain of eight boat supply stores, including one in Ilwaco.
Brian Brush, president of the Roseburg-based North River aluminum boats, canceled his business with Englund Marine Supply and called for Englund to resign. Brush also wrote that he has encouraged other marine-industry leaders, the aluminum boat-building industry and sport anglers in general to "follow my lead" and do business elsewhere. "This is a battle that Sports Fishermen, The Sportfishing Industry and Salmon will WIN!" Brush's letter said.
Brush said his company had spent $663,336 with Englund in the last three years.
The third to protest the vote was Paul Mayer, president of Stevens Marine Inc. of Portland.
Before the vote, Englund declared a potential conflict of interest, as required by law, and did nothing wrong, said commission Chairwoman Marla Rae, who released the letters.
"Many of us believe that the attack on his integrity cannot go unanswered," she said. "This is not how we do business in Oregon.
"I'm extremely disturbed that one commissioner would be targeted for financial ruin because of this."
Jacksonville attorney Don Denman, the commission's vice chairman, called the business cutoffs a "real attack" on Oregon's practice of using volunteers on commissions to oversee policies and activities of state agencies.
"It's one thing to write a letter chewing someone out over a vote; we get that all the time," Denman said. "But to try to affect someone's business because they voted their conscience on an issue, I think, is pretty reprehensible.
Englund said 60 percent of his companies' business is with industrial-marine firms. He said Tuesday that the action jeopardizes his Portland boat parts distribution dealer, U.S. Distributing, and its 14 employees.
"We're going to get hurt really bad out of this," Englund said. "We've already seen the effect." Englund said he is visiting his customers to explain the context surrounding the salmon split. He said he is not considering resigning or changing his vote, but shares the frustration surrounding the decision.
"It's very difficult when you don't have enough fish to take care of everybody," he said.
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