The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider new rules for sport and commercial salmon fishing on the lower Columbia River when it meets in Portland on Dec. 6 and 7.
The two day meeting begins Thursday at 1 p.m. at the Portland Airport Holiday Inn, 8439 NE Columbia Blvd., Portland, Ore. 97220. The Commission will consider a variety of issues on Thursday and take up Columbia River fisheries when it reconvenes Friday morning at 8 a.m.
Coquille land exchange, 2013 groundfish fisheries
On Thursday, the Commission will consider exchanging ODFW-owned lands at Eel Lake that have limited public access and relatively common habitat, for privately-owned wetlands in the Coquille River Basin that offer a rare opportunity to restore historically lost, tidally-influenced wetlands.
The trade would allow greater opportunities to restore significant fish and wildlife habitat – particularly for coho salmon and migratory birds – as well provide public access for fish and wildlife related recreation.
The Commission will be asked to adopt the 2013 regulations for sport and commercial groundfish fisheries. The harvest specifications and season structure for these marine species are set by the Pacific Fishery Management Council and the state has the authority to adopt concurrent or more conservative regulations.
As part of this process, the Commission will be asked to set the state sport and commercial harvest caps for five species or species groups of nearshore groundfish.
The most significant change for the sport fishery in 2013 would be a small reduction in the cabezon harvest cap and a delay to the start of the cabezon season from April 1 to July 1. ODFW staff has proposed the delay in order to try to keep the season open through late August or early September.
The Commission will consider three changes to the Division 56, Wildlife Integrity Rules: reclassify tiger muskie as a controlled species in Phillips Reservoir only to control illegally introduced yellow perch; prohibit four species of Asian carp in the state, and make permanent current temporary rules making it illegal to transport quagga or zebra mussels whether dead or alive into Oregon.
The Commission also will be asked to appoint a new Chair and two new members representing hunters to the Access and Habitat Board, as well a new public-at-large representative on the Fish Restoration and Enhancement Board. In addition, staff will request approval to provide $587,330 in funding to 15 fish restoration and enhancement projects recommended by the R and E Board.
Finally, the Commission will be asked to approve administrative rules that will allow seasonal tribal subsistence fishing at the mouth of Fifteen Mile Creek.
Lower Columbia River fisheries
On Friday, the Commission will be asked to adopt a new framework for sport and commercial fisheries on the lower Columbia River. The new guidelines were developed by a joint Oregon/Washington workgroup that began meeting in September at the request of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. Kitzhaber had asked the group to consider changes to the non-tribal fishery that would enhance recreational fishing in the mainstem of the river and concentrate gill net commercial harvest in the off-channel select areas.
The proposed framework calls for removing non-tribal commercial gill nets from the mainstem of the river by 2017 and transitioning to alternative gear such as beach and purse seines. At the same time, hatchery production of coho and spring and fall chinook within the select areas would be increased to offset loss of mainstem fisheries.
Also under the plan, the sport fishing share of most mainstem fisheries would gradually increase through 2017.
The Commission also will consider three other proposals from the workgroup:
- A 2013 closure of all sturgeon retention in most state waters in response to recent downward trends in sturgeon populations. Catch-and-release fishing for sturgeon would remain open.
- A barbless hook requirement when fishing for salmon, steelhead and trout in the mainstem Columbia and several tributaries.
- A recreational control zone at Youngs Bay.
The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in the state. The seven-member panel meets monthly.
Reasonable accommodations will be provided as needed for individuals requesting assistive hearing devices, sign language interpreters or large-print materials. Individuals needing these types of accommodations may call the ODFW Director’s Office at 800-720-6339 or 503-947-6044 at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting.
Members of the public who can’t attend the Commission meeting in-person can follow the proceedings via live video streaming (requires Adobe Flash). The full meeting agenda and link to video streaming are on the ODFW website at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/commission/minutes/12/06_jun/index.asp.
Logo courtesy Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife