According to Tom Stahl, ODFW Conservation and Recovery Program manager, the goal is to provide a strong conservation platform for native fish in coastal rivers, while still providing continued harvest opportunity for wild and hatchery fish.
“This plan is about keeping our wild salmon, steelhead and trout in coastal rivers healthy, and maintaining and improving harvest opportunities on wild and hatchery fish,” Stahl said. “We are investing in the future in this plan.”
Some highlights from the plan adopted today:
- Emphasis on maintaining and improving wild fish populations, including special focus on those populations identified as “at risk.”
- Overall hatchery releases coast-wide will increase.
- Consolidation of some hatchery programs, and the identification of some wild fish emphasis areas.
- Opportunities for new wild winter steelhead harvest in the East Fork Coquille River, Big Elk Creek and Salmon River.
- Harvest levels for some fisheries set on a sliding scale based on the relative abundance, where harvest can increase in years of strong returns but be reduced in years when returns are down.
“This is a package that has been forged through compromise and consensus,” said Ed Bowles, ODFW Fish Division administrator. He credited partners and stakeholder team members, who represented often competing points of view, for working hard to reach consensus.
Several stakeholders testified to the Commission that early on they opposed the plan. However, based on continued discussion and compromise they were able to work with their constituencies and ODFW to endorse the plan adopted today.
Also at today’s meeting, the Commission authorized the purchase of 10 acres on the Alsea River for future development of a boat ramp that would provide access to the popular fall salmon fisheries in the Alsea River tidewater. The development of a public boat launch on the lower Alsea has been a high priority for both ODFW and Lincoln County.
“This park and boat ramp will provide easy access to a prime piece of fishing ground,” said Jim Chambers, Parks Supervisor for Lincoln County.
The $330,000 purchase will be funded by the Oregon State Marine Board, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation, while Lincoln County will pursue additional grants for construction of facilities.
In other business, the Commission:
- Set the July 2014 through June 2015 commercial sardine seasons.