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Washington Restrictions on Commercial Fishing, Initiative 696 (1999)

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Washington Initiative 696, also known as the Commercial Fishing Restrictions Act was on the November 2, 1999 election ballot in Washington as an Initiative to the People, where it was defeated.

Election results

Washington Initiative 696
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No1,044,87260.49%
Yes 682,380 39.51%

Text of measure

The question asked on the ballot was, "Shall commercial net, troll, and trawl fishing be prohibited in Washington state fresh and marine waters, except tribal fisheries conducted under a valid treaty right?"

The explanatory statement in the official voter's guide said:

The Law As It Presently Exists

Commercial fishing in Washington waters is regulated by a number of laws codified primarily in Title 75 of the Revised Code of Washington. There is no law generally prohibiting commercial fishing with nets or troll lines, but existing laws do specify whether and where certain types of gear can be used. For example, there are laws that prohibit salmon fishing with nets in the Pacific Ocean within three miles of shore; prohibit bottom trawling in much of Puget Sound; and allow salmon gill nets only in Puget Sound, Grays Harbor, Willapa Bay, and the lower Columbia River. Commercial net fishing in fresh water is prohibited, except in the Columbia River.
Annual commercial fishing licenses (net or troll) specify what species of fish may be taken, what type of fishing gear may be used, and in what geographic area the fishing may occur. Additional restrictions may be incorporated in specific licenses issued. The number of commercial licenses that are issued may be limited in accordance with a license limitation program.
Violations of the commercial fishing laws are Class C felonies, gross misdemeanors, or misdemeanors, depending on the nature of each violation.
As a matter of federal law, state licensing requirements and gear restrictions ordinarily do not apply to the exercise of treaty fishing rights.

The Effect of the Proposed Measure Should It Be Approved Into Law

This measure would prohibit commercial net fishing in fresh or marine waters within Washington state, except tribal fishing conducted under valid treaty rights. The measure would also prohibit nontribal commercial troll fishing in Washington state waters.
The following types of gear and licenses would be specifically prohibited: purse seine, gill net, baitfish purse seine, dogfish set net, food fish drag seine, food fish trawl (Puget Sound and non-Puget Sound), herring drag seine, herring gill net, baitfish lampara, herring purse seine, Columbia river smelt, smelt dip bag net, whiting (Puget sound), shrimp trawl (Puget Sound and non-Puget Sound), emerging commercial fishery licenses and spawn on kelp. The following types of gear and licenses would still be permitted: reef net, crab pots, shrimp pots, herring lampara, and herring dip bag net.
Engaging in fishing in violation of this measure would be a class C felony.
The measure would not apply to treaty fishing.

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