The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved the upcoming coastal fall salmon seasons, including several fisheries for wild coho, at its meeting in Tigard. For several years now, returns of Oregon coastal wild coho salmon have been strong enough to support limited harvest of wild coho. Under the regulations adopted by the commission, anglers will again be able to harvest wild coho from the Nehalem, Tillamook, Nestucca, Siletz, Yaquina, Alsea, Siuslaw, Umpqua, Coos and Coquille rivers and Tenmile lakes. New experimental coho fisheries will also occur in Beaver Cr. (Lincoln Co.) and Floras Cr. (Curry Co.). Most begin on Sept. 15 and continue through November, with some exceptions
Also new for 2013 are plans to conduct some coho fisheries based on conservative bag limits and seasons but without numeric targets or "quotas."
"Based on our experiences with the wild coho fisheries in recent years, we're confident we can structure some fisheries based on conservative season dates and bag limits, while remaining well within the ESA and conservation needs for wild coho," said Chris Kern, ODFW ocean salmon manager.
Some coho fisheries will remain quota-driven, and may close before the scheduled end date if the quotas are met earlier than expected. All proposed coho fisheries must be reviewed and approved by NOAA.
The Commission also approved seasons for fall chinook that are very similar to 2012. Bag limits and area closures will be managed under permanent regulations for most South Coast rivers. On North Coast Rivers the daily bag limit of non fin-clipped chinook also will be two. However, because returns to some North Coast rivers continue to lag, the recent 10 fish seasonal aggregate limit will continue.
A complete description of the 2013 coastal salmon seasons, including open areas and wild coho quotas (as applicable), can be found on the ODFW website.
The Commission also approved $1,019,164 in funding for eight restoration and 15 enhancement projects recommended by the Fish Restoration and Enhancement Board. Among the projects approved is the continued funding of creel surveys to support the coastal wild coho fisheries.
The Commission also re-adopted the Columbia River fish management and reform rules it adopted in December 2012. These rules modify non-tribal commercial and recreational fisheries in the Columbia River and its tributaries and establish management measures for future fisheries. The Commission revisited the rules in order to consider updated fiscal information, provide additional time for public input and address alleged deficiencies in either the process or economic analysis.
Among the measures re-adopted are the barbless hook requirement on the Columbia River and selected tributaries, and the closure of all sturgeon retention on the Columbia River below Bonneville dam, the Willamette River and in all coastal waters beginning Jan. 1, 2014.
The Commission meeting will continue tomorrow to consider several wildlife-related issues. The meeting will begin at 8 a.m. at the Washington Square Embassy Suites, 9000 SW Washington Square Rd., Tigard, Ore. 97223.
The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in the state.
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