Despite countless angler and conservationist testimony, the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) still decided to continue the harvest of wild steelhead throughout Oregon’s coast from Cape Blanco to the California border. Last week, over 150 people spoke in front of a panel of ODFW commissioners in favor of zero-harvest regulations, but the commissioners voted 5-2 in favor of allowing anglers to take fish.
You can read the press release from ODFW, below…
From the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife:
SALEM, Ore.— After hearing from more than 150 people that signed up to testify on Thursday and several hours of discussion today, the Commission adopted the Rogue–South Coast Multi-Species Conservation and Management Plan. The plan creates a large network for wild fish emphasis areas in southwest Oregon and continues to allow conservative wild winter steelhead harvest.
Commissioners voted unanimously on most aspects of the Plan with the exception of allowing wild steelhead retention. This was a split 5-2 vote in favor of staff recommendation to not move to exclusively catch-and-release fishing.
Other modifications from staff recommendations included making the Winchuck River basin a Wild Fish Emphasis Area and raising the conservation thresholds at which actions to protect wild winter steelhead are taken.
Wild Fish Emphasis Areas are locations where no hatchery fish are stocked. Any new hatchery program in these areas would require Commission action. Approximately 80 percent of the plan area is now designated as Wild Fish Emphasis Areas. When adding the Rogue and South Coast to Oregon’s current wild fish emphasis areas on the Central and North Coast, the network of wild fish emphasis areas is larger than anything south of Canada with a network of rivers and watersheds extending from the Columbia River to the Smith River in California. Key to creating more resilience to climate change is a plan to improve habitats within these areas.
Hatchery coho smolt release numbers were increased slightly in the Rogue River (by 25,000).
If conservation thresholds are triggered, additional actions will be taken to protect a species. For wild winter steelhead, actions would include implementing catch-and-release regulations or closing fisheries. If more restrictive regulations are not necessary, reducing harvest to 1 fish per day and 1 fish per year is also an option for the lower Rogue River only.
Other notable pieces of the plan include a robust climate change analysis, habitat strategies and actions to minimize climate change impacts, significant outreach and coordination efforts on many aspects of the plan, new fishing authorizations required for winter steelhead angling (which will require legislative approval for any fee increase), and significant new monitoring efforts throughout the planning area.
Two stakeholder teams worked for nearly two years helping ODFW develop the plan. Adoption of the staff recommended alternative reflects the stakeholder team process and was a compromise between what various stakeholders recommended…”
You can read the remainder of the ODFW press release, here!