Commercial Fishermen Had a Cause of Action as There Was a Distinction Between Their Rights and Those of Other Citizens
In Columbia River Fishermen's Protective Union v. City of St. Helens, 160 Ore. 654, 87 P.2d 195 (Or. 1939), commercial fishermen brought an action against the operators of two plants, an insulating board company and a paper company, for discharging pollution into the river.
The plaintiffs alleged that the pollution destroyed the fish, aquatic life, and its fishing nets.
The plaintiffs contended that this caused irreparable injury. See 87 P.2d at 196-97.
The Supreme Court of Oregon concluded that the commercial fishermen had a cause of action. See id. at 199-200.
The court reasoned that the commercial fishermen had a special interest, distinct from that of the public, in fishing the rivers.
In finding a cause of action, the supreme court found that deleting the fish from the rivers prevented the fishermen from pursuing their vocations and earning their livelihood.
The court found a vital distinction between the rights of licensed fishermen who are accustomed to fishing in the river and the rights of other citizens of the state. See id. at 197.
But see Kuehn v. Milwaukee, 83 Wis. 583, 53 N.W. 912, 912-14 (Wis. 1892) (holding that a fisherman had no cause of action in equity because the fisherman was only one of a large number of fishermen affected by the alleged nuisance, he had no special privilege or right to fish in Lake Michigan, and he had no property damaged by the nuisance).