Women in Oregon fishing industry have important, sometimes invisible role

OREGON COAST —Women have always played an important role in Oregon’s commercial fishing industry, even if they don’t actually fish or work on boats. But a new study indicates their roles are changing.  

The research, funded by Oregon Sea Grant and published in the journal Marine Policy, was based on a series of oral-history interviews conducted mainly with fishermen and their wives.  

The findings could help government agencies set policies that take into account their potential impacts on the wellbeing of entire fishing communities, said Flaxen Conway, a community outreach specialist with Oregon Sea Grant Extension and a co-author of the paper.  

Conway, who is also a professor in OSU’s College of Liberal Arts, noted that a federal law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, requires policymakers to consider how management policies could affect the economic and social wellbeing of fishing communities.  

Women’s contributions to the fishing industry are not always visible and are continually evolving, Conway said. They have traditionally performed onshore legwork roles, such as provisioning vessels and taking care of the financial side of the business, she said. But some of those interviewed noted an increase in the number of women involved in research or management, such as serving on task forces and commissions, sometimes because of increasingly complex regulations and markets.  

Sarah Calhoun, a former OSU master’s student, conducted interviews with 15 women and 10 men from the coastal Oregon towns of Astoria, Warrenton, Garibaldi, Newport and Port Orford; and Morro Bay, Calif., as part of this project.  

One fisherman’s wife said she entered the “politics of fishing” when fishing quotas were starting to be implemented.  

“It was really obvious that our boat and our community was going to be entirely left oit [if ] we weren’t at the table to participate in the really finer details of the design of the [catch shares] program, and so that’s when I got involved,” she said.  

Another fisherman’s wife noted, “More women and fishermen’s wives are much more aware of the regulatory issues than they were 20 years ago, and are much more active … self-educating or attending the meetings, or pushing their husbands out the door [to a meeting] and telling them, ‘You need to go to this.’”  

The increasing complexities of the fishing industry have increased women’s need to turn to social support groups such as Newport Fishermen’s Wives, and to adapt by learning new skills, said Conway. For example, one fisherman’s wife described the challenge of understanding fishing quotas: “How do I open a quota share account, how do I trade quota, how do I transfer it from account to account?” she asked. “That’s the kind of constant learning [that’s necessary] as regulations change. And I think that the learning curve — as opposed to 20 years ago — [has] grown exponentially.”  

As one fisherman’s wife put it, “Fishing isn’t what it used to be. It isn’t the same. So I think you have to be able to adapt to change.”  

Conway agreed. “I’ve always been really impressed with the resilience of the fishing community, and this work has showed us that adaptation has actually resulted in a major change in the roles women play in the family business.”  

The interviews form part of the Voices from the West Coast oral history project. Suzanne Russell, a social scientist with NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, was a co-author of the paper, and the center also provided funding.  

Rick Cooper is managing editor for Oregon Sea Grant, headquartered at Oregon State University since 197 1. He manages websites and social media, writes content for digital and print uses, and edits publications and other content.

Sara Skamser and her husband, John, design and make fishing nets as owners of Foulweather Trawl in Newport. Skamser, who was previously a fisherman and welder, was one of 16 women interviewed for a research project funded by Oregon Sea Grant about how women’s roles have changed in Oregon’s commercial fishing industry. (Photo courtesy of Lynn Ketchum)

Michele Longo Eder stands in front of the fishing vessel Timmy Boy, which she and her husband, Bob, own. Eder was one of 16 women interviewed for a research project funded by Oregon Sea Grant about women’s roles in Oregon’s commercial fishing industry. Until her retirement in 2015, Eder, who is on Oregon State University’s Board of Trustees, was an attorney whose practice included an emphasis in marine and fisheries law. (Photo courtesy of Chris Becerra, for Oregon State University)

BY RICK COOPER   Of Oregon State University, Newport News Times, February 22, 2017, B1


League of Women Voters – Oregon ACTION ALERT!

ACTION NEEDED: Ask the State Land Board not to sell off the Elliott State Forest!
This Tuesday, the Department of State Lands will decide whether to proceed with the sale of our first State Forest, the Elliott State Forest. Tell them no!
The State Land Board agenda for February 14th pushes for privatization: “The Department will initiate negotiations in good faith with the plan proposers towards a binding Purchase and Sale Agreement (PSA), and an eventual transfer of ownership of the Elliott Property to the Elliott Forest LLC, unless and to the extent the Board directs the Department otherwise.”
The proposed sale would:
  • Sell off our public lands
  • Severely reduce protections for spotted owls, marbled murrelets and Coho Salmon
  • Open thousands of acres of rare older forests to industrial-style clearcutting and pesticide spraying
Only members of the State Land Board can stop this sale. The League of Women Voters of Oregon is working with our Conservation allies on long-term solutions that would provide needed money to schools and education, protect critical forest values, create jobs in the timber industry and other fields, and maintain public access.  Governor Brown has provided this opportunity to reconsider the sale.
Please get involved NOW!:
  • Call Governor Kate Brown (503) 378-4582
    Treasurer Tobias Read (503) 378-4329 and

    Secretary of State Dennis Richardson (503) 986-1523 and ask them to keep the Elliott State Forest public and protected.

  • Attend the State Land Board meeting next Tuesday, February 14th-10 a.m. Speak up & wear green. Details here.
  • Send a personalized note to Governor Brown, Secretary of State Richardson and Treasurer Read sharing how important this spectacular forest is to you and future generations.  Once sold, its public value is no longer in our control.

Greater Newport Area Vision 2040 – Kickoff Celebration FEB 17 & 18


Over the coming months, the City of Newport will develop a long range, community wide vision. Take this opportunity to help shape the community’s future.

 Come one, come all! Join us in kicking off the Greater Newport Area Vision 2040 project and celebrate the future of our city. Pick a time that works best for you.



By H.J. Holen   Newport

Leaving JC Market in Newport on Jan. 21, I noticed a very young woman waiting with her sign. She had been part of the peaceful march.  

I remembered when President Obama expressed his faith in the young people of the country, and here was one of them.  

I felt so proud of her, and of all the other participants.

Letters to the Editor, Newport News Times, January 27, 2017, A6


By Brenda Willis, Toledo

On Jan. 21, I stood outside the Hallmark Resort, after counting o250 marchers who had arrived first in the Stronger Together March in Newport. I raised my hands and voice to stop anyone else from entering. I yelled and the crowd repeated my words. It was the only way to be heard outside in Oregon’s wind.

“We have a delightful problem.” Repeat. “There are 1,600 marchers” Cheers and repeat. “The Hallmark Resort is a great partner with us, and only 250 can be inside at any one time.”  

I say thank you to the marchers who were the stardust blessing Newport and each other on that day. You cheered when we sent you to port-a-potties instead of inside for coee and cookies. You moved across the street and listened to spontaneous speeches, line by line.   Who came? Locals. Portlanders, Californians, moms, daughters, wives, husbands, sons, dads, single and married, gay, straight, transgender, questioning, Latina, black, Asian, native, white: Americans all. We marched alone and holding hands, pushing babies and walkers, “first time” and “long time” marchers. A former Lincoln County resident rode a bus from Albany. Some decided to march after watching President Trump’s inauguration. Others signed up weeks before. We expected 400, then four times that arrived. Estimates are that 5 million human beings marched together around the world on Jan. 21.  

I want to thank each marcher, each citizen, and I celebrate the safe, peaceful and strong way each of you participated in the march. Our keynote speaker, Jenn Burleton, of TransActiveOnline.org, challenged us: “Can we fight together and not fight each other?”  

Please be stronger together as you join others and write your elected ocials, stay informed and get involved somewhere. Let’s make democracy work in Lincoln County, in Oregon, and in the United States of America. It was an honor to see you and learn some of your stories.

Letter to the Editor, Newport News Times, January 27, 2017, A6


By Carolyn Crandall, Chair   Lincoln County Democratic Central Committee

My organization had the proud honor of partnering with NOW, PFLAG and the Diversity Committee to create a march to bring our community together to let the world know that we are not taking this administration’s backward stance on our rights.  

We showed them that we care about each other, something they might want to learn to do. It has become perfectly clear where they want to take our country and we are having none of it. We did not have 200 or 400 or 600 show up. We had 1,600 people who came together in the rain to send this very important message; we are here, and we are loud, and we are not going away.  

We are so grateful for the opportunity to be with our fellow Americans to sing, to chant, to carry signs of resistance and to listen to inspiring speakers. We thank the Hallmark for their support in helping make this march a complete success. We could not accommodate all 1,600 in the Hallmark, but it did not deter them from standing in the gravel across the street and wait for spots to open up in the rally. Some of our speakers went out to them and spoke about our rights and how we can work together to protect them. We rotated people in and out so as many as possible could get inside to hear our amazing speakers and visit the organizations that had tables set up.  

We thank KYAQ for live streaming the event. We thank the Newport police and their volunteers for watching out for us during the march. Businesses came out to their front doors and smiled and waved to us. This was a community function that brought us together and to prove that we are stronger together. Stay tuned for more events coming soon.

Letters to the Editor, Newport News Times, January 27, 2017, A6

We are making a commitment

Rhonda Harman, Viewpoint, Jan. 27, 2017 Newport News Times

Welcome to our Stronger Together March in solidarity with the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. and hundreds of sister marches across the country and six global nations. Many of you know me. My name is Rhonda Harman. I hitchhiked from Portland over 40 years ago to stay and love this community in Newport. I am one of 13 amazing women who have worked hard to build this grass roots coalition march today. We belong to each other. Thank you for coming.  

All are welcome to this march. You are not alone. We are stronger together. We are the majority.  

This is our community, our country, where we pledge to honor and respect all people. We will protect our civil rights. We will protect all vulnerable people. We will protect our Mother Earth that is to be inherited by our children.  

You are not alone. Come as you are, however you are. We are all excited to be here today. This is where we ignite being stronger together. This is where we take action.  

The surreal reality is we are in mourning. We are grieving. Remember, grief is a process through many cycles. Be aware. We will get angry, frustrated and saddened at times. Do not let all this make you sick. Do not let this state of uncertainty make you stay home inactive. You will feel better because we will stick together and help each other through these tough times ahead. Every day, choose to go to your quiet place with your higher power. Empower yourself. Consider a yoga group. Find your mantra. Then, let your emotions fuel your energy to act. You will feel so much better.  

Join one of our groups here today. Contact the Lincoln County Democratic Committee, or National Organization for Women or NOW, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG. Any of these established organizations will help you find your niche in one of many established Lincoln County action teams. There are so many opportunities to serve.   Again, this is a peaceful march; do not let emotions drag you into physical harm. Be very respectful of each other. Be in your own skin, and with each step, contact Mother Earth with your feet. Let us focus our energy and be in the moment with ourselves and each other. When you do get emotional, find your peace. Go to your quiet place in prayer or meditation, develop a mantra. We are one body. We need each other like the foot can’t walk without the leg, and the hand that feeds you cannot do it without the arm.  

We are all here so that we will be there in times of both gratitude and struggles. We are guaranteed life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, equality and justice for all.  

We are making a commitment to each other and our country today to show up, speak up and stand up because we are stronger together.  

Rhonda Harman was one of 13 organizers for the Stronger Together March, held Jan. 21 in Newport. She resides in Newport.

(Editor’s note: Due to technical difficulties during the Jan. 21 Stronger Together March in Newport, not all of those attending were able to hear the opening remarks given by one of the organizers, Rhonda Harman, from the steps of Newport City Hall. Her remarks are printed below.)

Newport News Times, January 21, 2017, A6

A celebration of women!

BY ERIC ERAMO    For the News-Times , October 7, 2016, Section B1

An event aimed at raising money to help projects that benefit girls and women in Lincoln County will mark another year on Sunday, Oct. 9, at the Newport Performing Arts Center.

The third annual Celebration of Women “Wine & Chocolate” event, which serves as the primary fundraiser for the Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women Foundation, runs from 2-4 p.m. The program raised about $5,000 last year.

“NOW’s goal is to spread awareness to the community, and this being the major fundraiser for the organization, this event is a big deal,” said Nancy Campbell Mead, a NOW national board member and former circuit court judge, who played a big role in the founding of the local chapter in 2012.   

“Providing the community with a vast amount of education through having other local community groups set up tables and hand out information is a big part of the event.”

   One of the key components of the event will be a silent auction with more than 90 items ranging from gift certificates from local community establishments, gift baskets from area women advocacy groups, handcrafted jewelry and pottery.   

Newport Mayor Sandra Roumagoux, who has been painting professionally for more than 40 years, is also donating one her pieces of art.    “The piece captures the coast in an  early setting. With my responsibilities, I cannot be as involved as I would want to, (so) any way I can help (NOW) I try and do so.”   

Local businessman Joseph Swafford also donated a selection of red and white wines, while the chocolate for the event comes from shops in the area.   

Musical entertainment will be provided by the all-female band 3 Twins & a Fish.   

The local NOW foundation has been assisting local girls and women since becoming a chapter in December 2012. The foundation is a 501(c)3 organization, and donations are tax deductible.   

For more information about the Celebration of Women “Wine & Chocolate” event contact the local NOW foundation at centraloregoncoastnow@gmail.org.  

  A silent auction will be held to raise money at the third annual Celebration of Women “Wine & Chocolate” event on Sunday, Oct. 9. Some of the items to be auctioned are shown. (Photo by Eric Eramo)


Central Oregon Coast NOW Foundation Awarded Siletz Tribal Charitable Fund Grant for STEM Committee’s Earthquake Camp

November 6, 2016

Earthquake Camp Instructor Kay Wyatt, Central Oregon Coast NOW (COC NOW) President Nancy Mead, COC NOW Vice President and STEM Committee Chair Jan Eisele, and COC NOW Treasurer and STEM Committee Member Michele Walters receives grant from the Siletz Charitable Fund

Earthquake Camp Instructor Kay Wyatt, Central Oregon Coast NOW (COC NOW) President Nancy Mead, COC NOW Vice President and STEM Committee Chair Jan Eisele, and COC NOW Treasurer and STEM Committee Member Michele Walters receive grant from the Siletz Charitable Fund

The Central Oregon Coast NOW Foundation was awarded a grant from the Siletz Tribal Charitable Fund of $1661.00 to be used by the Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) Committee for its planned 2016 Earthquake Camp for girls.  The camp will provide central Oregon coast middle school girls with the opportunity to learn and use engineering, geology and math skills to make a seismometer to measure the earth’s movement.  They will learn what causes earthquakes and tsunamis, what steps to take to make sure they and their families are safe, and also will make earthquake/tsunami preparedness kits that they will be able to take home.  Depoe Bay geophysicist Kay Wyatt will be leading the camp.

The camp is part of the STEM Committee’s work to interest girls and young women in STEM subjects and careers.  Women are way underrepresented in STEM fields.  This means that a lot of potential talent is missing from from these fields.  It also means that women are losing out on more lucrative careers.  Overall, women earn only 79% of what men earn.  Women in STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than those in non-STEM occupations and experience a smaller wage gap relative to men.

In addition to the Engineering Camp, the STEM committee also hopes to conduct a “Starry Night” astronomy camp for girls during the summer of 2016. Central Oregon Coast NOW has helped sponsor two girls robotic teams, and also the 2015 GEMS (Girls in Engineering and Marine Science) Camp.  Some of the STEM committee members have served as mentors for the Newport Science Fair students, and as judges for the MATE ROV robotics competitions.  In addition to the Siletz Tribal Charitable Fund, NW Natural has also been a major contributor to the Central Oregon Coast NOW Foundation for its STEM programs.

I’m proud to be a liberal

I want every American to reach their potential. Every American should have the opportunity to be well educated, self-reliant and productive — to lead a satisfying life. The greatness of any society isn’t derived from one person. The Apollo program didn’t begin and end with Neil Armstrong. It was an example of what we accomplish when we work together.  

Liberals don’t want “Big Government.” We want government that is efficient, transparent and accountable to all of us, not just the wealthy. We don’t want a government that is so big it insinuates itself into a personal and difficult decision between a woman and her doctor.  

Liberals make an important distinction between those acquiring wealth through innovation, risk and effort and those that grab wealth through loopholes and rigging the economic system, which weakens America.  

I want retirement security for our elders. Our seniors should never have to choose between medicine and food.   I’m grateful for the Affordable Care Act expanding access to care.

I want universal health care for all Americans that transforms the system from a reactive system to preventative management which controls costs.  

I want sustainable economic growth that creates opportunity and rewards eort fairly. No worker should have to subsist on taxpayer-funded food stamps while executives are collecting millions. Women should receive equal pay for equal work.

   “Trickle down” is not economics, it is massive fraud perpetrated by the wealthy on the working class and poor. When the majority of Americans thrive, the American economy grows and strengthens America. When wealth is just concentrated at the top and a few crumbs drop down, it leads to a climate of fear, anxiety and uncertainty for Americans.  

I want a system of justice that works for all. No parent should have to worry when their child leaves the house to go to work or school and is targeted because of the color of their skin.  

I believe in protecting the beauty of America — our coastline, mountains, valleys and forests, our national and state parks — for this and future generations.  

I believe in an America that takes responsibility for its mistakes and injustices of the past, an America that learns from mistakes and strives toward justice.  

No election should be bought by the wealthy hiding behind a PAC. This is not democracy.  

In Oregon, we are fortunate to be expanding voter rights. Elsewhere across the country there is clearly a fear of democracy — people are disenfranchised, and districts are gerrymandered to maintain control regardless of the majority will of the people.  

I want the best public education system in the world so future generations will be prepared to handle unprecedented environmental, energy and global security challenges. We need well-paid teachers, small classroom sizes and the resources to thrive. I want an America that invests in schools, not prisons.  

Higher education must be aordable. We must not saddle each new generation with growing school loan debt. And I believe in aordable early education and child care for working families.  

We can no longer tear families apart through immigration policies that no longer serve America. We must create a meaningful path to citizenship for people that work hard and are as committed to the American dream as we are. The Statue of Liberty has the quote “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” This opportunity has led to our diversity and richness as a society.  

We must not infringe upon people’s right to own guns. However, we must have the mechanisms in place as a society to ensure responsible gun ownership.  

Whether you are a teacher, a firefighter, a soldier or a nurse, you should not have to pay more tax than a Wall Street executive. We must help small business thrive while making sure mega-corporations operate fairly.  

I believe in diplomacy and strength as the core of our American character, and war as a last resort. Liberals prefer to work with the international community as a strong, benevolent partner, instead of a foreign policy best described as “Let them hate us as long as they fear us.” We believe in honoring and helping our veterans adjust back to civilian life.  

We cannot ignore the reality of climate change. We must transition from oil and coal to solar, wind and other safe renewable alternatives and protect the only home we have — Earth.  

I believe an important pillar of democracy is a well-informed society. As media has consolidated and slashed costs for profit, our access to news has suered. We need independent media seeking and reporting facts.  

Liberals are about empowering individuals to be selfreliant. Liberals recognize that beyond the individual, there is greatness in what we accomplish together — fairness, justice and opportunity for all, a strong, benevolent America we can all be proud of.  

I’m proud to be a liberal.  

George A. Polisner is the chairman of the Lincoln County Democratic Central Committee.  

(Editor’s note: The original viewpoint was edited due to space constraints. The complete article can be found online at http:// lcdcc.org/liberal)

October 30, 2015