The Southern Coast of Oregon is home to some of the most pristine and intact watersheds in the lower 48. Additionally, these watersheds enjoy relatively strong runs of wild steelhead–clean, intact rivers…go figure. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife manages wild steelhead and several other salmonids, and is now considering the draft Rogue-South Coast Multi-Species Conservation and Management Plan.

The plan includes several major issues for wild steelhead anglers and stewards alike: wild steelhead harvest, habitat work, hatchery production, and management approaches. The Draft Plan proposes continuing wild steelhead harvest on seven out of nine Southern Coast rivers. Kirk Blaine, Native Fish Society’s Southern Oregon Regional Director, shared his concerns. “Thats the problem, there are no population estimates or trends they are using all juvenile data for their monitoring. They have no data,” Kirk said.

In the world of fisheries, all management decisions are ideally made on the best scientific grounds available; decisions made without science or adequate stock understanding often lead to poor management outcomes. That is what Kirk and Native Fish Society are trying to sound the alarm on. Wild steelhead are too important and vulnerable to propose continued harvest without any understanding of the population and without a strict monitoring plan.

To learn more about this issue and lend your voice to advocate for wild steelhead conservation, head over to Native Fish Society. Their Action Alert to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is half way to its goal. Kirk summed up their position as, “If we don’t know let them go!”

Cover picture courtesy of Ken Morrish, Fly Water Travel

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