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Ocean salmon, halibut regs to be set

04/18/16 -- The Commission will meet Friday April 22 in Bandon, Ore. to adopt ocean salmon and Pacific halibut fishing regulations and 2016-17 game hunting bird regulations.

The Friday meeting begins at 8 a.m. at the “The Barn” Conference and Community Center, 1200 11th Street SW, Bandon and follows this agenda.

During the director’s report, ODFW staff will brief the Commission on cougar biology and ecology and give an overview of the Cougar Management Plan, which is due for review this year. Invited panelists from a variety of organizations representing hunters, farmers, and environmental groups will also speak about the Cougar Plan Review. No other public testimony will be taken about Cougar Plan Review during the meeting, though it will be taken at future meetings about the topic.

Other commission business includes:

Thursday April 21 tour of Oregon Hatchery Research Center and Cape Perpetua Visitors Center: Members of the public are welcome to join Commissioners on the tour but need to provide their own transportation and meals. Meet at the OHRC (2418 East Fall Creek Road, Alsea) by 8:30 am.

Ceremonial harvest of salmon and steelhead at Willamette Falls by the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde Community of Oregon. The Commission will be asked to allow the ceremonial harvest of up to 15 hatchery fish annually. Similar ceremonial harvest was approved the last three years (2013-2015).

Game bird season regulations for 2016-17. Adoption of game bird hunting regulations usually happens in August, but it’s been moved to April to streamline the process and allow more timely printing of the regulations. ODFW staff are recommending the following changes be made:

  • Allow youth hunters 17 or younger to participate during the September youth waterfowl hunting weekend. Prior federal regulations restricted this hunt to youths 15 or younger but were recently changed to allow 17 or younger.
  • Combine three controlled fall turkey hunts (Baker, Grande Ronde, Wallowa) into one general season “Northeast Fall Turkey Hunt” with 450 tags available over-the-counter on a first-come first service basis. Change Blue Mountain controlled fall turkey hunt to a general season hunt with 500 tags available also on a first-come, first serve basis. The popular White River fall hunt will remain controlled due to the high number of applicants.
  • Changes to Klamath Wildlife Area hunting regulations which would allow game bird hunting on Monday, Wednesdays and Saturdays from October-November (except both Saturday and Sunday would be open on opening weekend of duck and pheasant season) and every day in January. This would reduce confusion from current regulations which allow hunting every other day.
  • Modifying daily upland game bird hunting hours at Klamath WA to begin at 10 a.m. throughout the waterfowl season (currently begin 8 a.m.).
  • Close most of Klamath WA (except birding trail, parking areas, public roads, dog training area) to access from Feb. 1-April 30 and prohibit the running or training of dogs at Klamath WA through Aug. 31 (currently July 31) to protect birds. This is not expected to make a huge impact on visitors as most visitors use the sections that will remain open.
  • Require completion and return of daily wildlife area hunting permits at wildlife areas where they are used (permits indicate hunter effort and harvest).
  • Streamline licensing requirements by removing the requirement for upland game bird (pheasants, grouse, partridges, and quail) and crow hunters to obtain HIP validations to hunt for these species. Migratory game bird hunters (mourning doves, band-tailed pigeons, snipe, ducks, geese, and coots) will still need to obtain a migratory game bird HIP validation prior to hunting.

Coquille Valley Wildlife Area Plan – Adopt a Plan for this new 580-acre wildlife area with the broad goals of providing public access and promoting restoration of key wildlife habitats for over-wintering migratory birds and Oregon Conservation Strategy species such as coho salmon, Western pond turtles, bats and songbirds. The Plan was a collaborative effort and includes input from partners like The Nature Conservancy and stakeholders like adjacent landowners, hunters, other natural resource agencies and managers of the Beaver Slough Drainage District.

Wildlife Violator Compact – In effect since 1991, this agreement allows ODFW to suspend the Oregon fishing, hunting and trapping privileges of people who violate wildlife laws in another state participating in the Compact. ODFW staff will ask the Commission to clarify rule language to reflect suspensions from other state cases where charges may not necessarily result in suspension in Oregon, such as some violations of federal laws. The change would be in line with the original intent of the Compact.

Ocean Salmon Regulations: The Commission will be asked to set the 2016 ocean salmon and Pacific halibut seasons for Oregon’s territorial waters from shore to three miles out. Forecasts for Klamath River fall Chinook are much poorer than in recent years and below average for Sacramento River fall chinook. Coho returns to the Columbia River and Oregon Coast are forecast to be much lower than recent years but Columbia River fall Chinook return is forecast to be large again (955K fish).The seasons in ocean waters beyond three miles already have been set by the Pacific Management Council, and the Commission will consider similar regulations for state waters. In addition, recreational and commercial troll fall Chinook salmon target fisheries in state waters only will be considered for waters adjacent to the Elk River and the Chetco River.

Pacific Halibut Regulations: The total 2016 catch limit will be 1,140,000 pounds, 17 percent more than in 2015. There are a few changes to the 2016 regulations that affect the sport fisheries:

  • The opening date of the Central Coast subarea nearshore fishery is moved up one month (to June 1, 2016 from July 1 last year) to provide additional halibut fishing opportunity early in the season.
  • In Southern Oregon Coast subarea, retention of other flatfish will be allowed while halibut are on board, at all depths.

The proposed 2016 Pacific halibut seasons are posted on the ODFW Website.

The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in the state. Public testimony before the Commission will be held first thing Friday morning, just after the adoption of temporary rules. Persons seeking to testify on issues not on the formal agenda may do so by making arrangements with the ODFW Director’s Office, at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting, by calling 800-720-6339 or 503-947-6044.

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.

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