WELCHES, Ore.—The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission today adopted a management plan and regulations designed to protect forage fish that are not covered by other management plans within state waters off the coast of Oregon.
These unmanaged forage fish are small schooling fish such as smelt, squid, and Pacific saury, that serve as an important food source for salmon, steelhead and many other fish species, seabirds and marine mammals.
Oregon’s new plan will extend new protections for unmanaged forage fish, including more restrictive fishing regulations, harvest limits, and better tracking and monitoring from the coast to three miles offshore. Similar protections were established earlier this year for adjacent federal waters, which are located three or more miles offshore.
This forage fish plan will link Oregon’s waters with federal offshore waters, stitching together protections of the marine food web along the entire West Coast, according to Dr. Caren Braby, manager of ODFW’s Marine Resources Program, who briefed the Commission on the plan.
Additionally, the Commission delayed making a decision on two “Welcome to Hunt” Access and Habitat projects on privately owned land in Northeast Oregon One project would provide three years of hunter access to 13,440 acres of private forest land in the Desolation Wildlife Management Unit. The other would provide five years of hunter access to more than 250,000 acres in the Grand Ronde and John Day watersheds managed by Hancock Forest Management. Commissioners asked staff to come back with more information before making a decision.
In other business, the Commission:
- Appointed Marc Thalacker of Terrebonne, Ore., to the Fish Screening Task Force. Thalacker is manager of the Three Sisters Irrigation District.
- Directed staff to pursue a pilot program for use of single passenger electric mobility devices and to look into developing controlled hunts specifically for disabled hunters. The Commission also endorsed proposed administrative changes to the Disabilities Hunting and Fishing Permit (DHFP) recommended by a work group of staff, disabled hunters, law enforcement and members of hunting organizations. Administrative changes include greater emphasis on permanent disabilities, clarification of DHFP bag limits, highlight DHFP rules and opportunities in Oregon’s hunting and fishing regulations, and incorporate disability status on license documents.
- Accepted a petition from several conservation groups to consider reclassifying the marbled murrelet from threatened to endangered under the Oregon Endangered Species Act. The Commission directed ODFW staff to complete a biological analysis of the bird to determine whether reclassification is warranted.
- Reviewed the 2016 Oregon Conservation Strategy, including a live demonstration of the document at OregonConservationStrategy.
org. The Strategy is a statewide, voluntary, science-based approach to conserving Oregon’s native fish and wildlife and their habitats. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved the document in August.
The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in Oregon and usually meets monthly. Its next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 7 in La Grande.