The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission approved a Coquille Basin land exchange and set the 2013 marine groundfish seasons at its meeting in Portland today.

The Commission approved the exchange of 607 acres of ODFW-owned timbered lands on Eel Lake for two privately-owned parcels of wetlands in the Coquille River Basin. The trade offers a unique opportunity to restore tidally-influenced wetlands and enhance habitat for coho salmon, migratory birds and several other wildlife species. Public access for fish and wildlife-related recreation also will be improved.

The details of the exchange include conservation easements on the Eel Lake property to protect water quality, preserve views and restrict future development. On the newly acquired properties, ODFW will continue to pay property taxes, as required by law, and has made a commitment that future restoration activities will not adversely impact neighboring lands.

The harvest specifications and season structure for groundfish in ocean waters had earlier been set by the Pacific Fishery Management Council. Today, the Commission adopted concurrent regulations for commercial and recreational groundfish fisheries in Oregon and state harvest levels for commercial and recreational nearshore fisheries. The nearshore fishery extends from the shoreline out three miles.

The most significant change for the sport fishery in 2013 is 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 proposed the delay in order to try to keep the season open through late August or early September.

The Commission made changes to the Wildlife Integrity rules that will allow the introduction of tiger muskie into Phillips Reservoir to help control illegally introduced yellow perch. It also approved rules that will prohibit four species of Asian carp in the state and prevent their use as aquaria or live food fish, and make permanent current temporary  rules making it illegal to transport quagga or zebra mussels whether dead or alive into Oregon.

The Commission also appointed new members to the Access and Habitat Board and to the Fish Restoration and Enhancement Board.

Barry DelCurto of Halfway, was appointed Chair of the Access and Habitat Program Board. DelCurto has been serving as a landowner representative on the Board for the past five years and begins his new role as chair immediately.

In addition, the Commission appointed two hunter representatives to the A&H Board.  James Morrell from Sisters was re-appointed to a second four-year term, and David Stiefvater of Ontario joins the Board for a four-year term beginning Jan. 1.

The Commission also appointed Greg Silbernagel of Pendleton to represent the public at large on the Fish Restoration and Enhancement Board, and approved $587,330 in funding for 15 fish restoration and enhancement projects recommended by the R&E Board.

Finally, Commission approved administrative rules that will allow seasonal tribal subsistence fishing at the mouth of Fifteen Mile Creek.

The meeting will re-convene Friday morning at 8 a.m. when the Commission will take up proposed changes to the structure of sport and commercial fisheries on the lower Columbia River. At this time, due to technical difficulties the live video stream of the meeting will not be available.

Logo courtesy Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

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