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Marine Nearshore Groundfish - Summary of Interim Management Plan for Oregon's Nearshore Commercial FIshery

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission (OFWC) adopted an Interim Management Plan for Oregon's Nearshore Commercial Fishery at their October 11, 2002 meeting. The action taken is only an interim measure pending the development of a comprehensive Nearshore Resource Management Plan for the Oregon coast. The main intent of this plan is to protect nearshore groundfish populations, which are primarily reef fish, from over harvest.

The groundfish crisis continues to deepen. Since 1997, the nearshore commercial fishery has continued to grow due to the development of live-fish markets. This interim plan was adopted in anticipation of further growth of the nearshore commercial fishery due to increasing restrictions and area closures on the continental shelf.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission directed staff to come up with a plan to limit growth of commercial and recreational fisheries and to protect the nearshore resource as little is known about the status of nearshore fishery resources. The adoption of this interim management plan is the first step in the development of a comprehensive plan, while fishery managers gather information needed to determine optimum harvest levels for a sustainable resource.

The interim plan is a result of multiple public meetings and reflects several of the suggestions received at those meetings. The issues being directly addressed under this interim management plan are:

  • The number of commercial participants who will be permitted to target and land selected nearshore species.
  • The qualification criteria for permits.
  • The areas of fishing operations.
  • Legal gears in the commercial nearshore fishery.
  • Reporting requirements for the commercial participants.

Goals and Objects of Interim Plan

The adopted interim plan addresses several goals and objectives for managing Oregon's nearshore fisheries:

  • Sustain biological resources at optimal levels.
  • Minimize the number of commercial nearshore vessels fishing off central and northern coastal waters in areas of high recreational use.
  • Allow the continuation of black rockfish open access fishery.
  • Reduce commercial effort by at least 50%.
  • Develop a cap on harvest levels of nearshore species.

Summary of Interim Plan

The adopted plan went into effect on January 1, 2003. It included the following components:

  1. Added 21 nearshore species to the Developmental Fishery Program, granting oversight to the Developmental Fishery Board

    The interim plan focuses on species that live predominantly in the Oregon territorial sea, and do not have separate optimum yields determined by the Pacific Fishery Management Council under its groundfish fishery management plan. Black and blue rockfish are not included on the list for two reasons: 1) black rockfish are managed under a separate OY under the PFMC groundfish Framework Management Plan; and 2) blue rockfish are also caught incidentally with black rockfish and are often taken outside the territorial sea. Staff will track landings of black rockfish to determine further management needs.

    View species included in the plan

  2. Qualification Criteria for Initial Permit Issuance

    Permits were initially issued to applicants owning a vessel that landed at least 750 pounds of nearshore species managed under the plan in any one calendar year between January 1, 1995 and July 1, 2001.

  3. Permits by Area

    The ratio of permits between the north and south coasts is consistent with the goal of minimizing nearshore commercial effort north of Heceta Head in areas of high recreational use. Allowing some effort preserves the opportunity to support a nearshore commercial fishery while minimizing user conflicts.
    The interim plan is also consistent with the goal of keeping effort from increasing in areas with more limited nearshore reef habitat north of Heceta Head.

  4. Permit Renewal - update for '04
    Permit holders receiving permits for 2004 must have landed at least 100 pounds of nearshore species listed in the interim plan and have made 5 or more landings to qualify the permit for renewal for the subsequent year.

    Permits expire on December 31 of each year. Permits may be renewed if the vessel made a minimum of 5 commercial fish landings to licensed Oregon fish processor in the calendar year prior to the request for renewal. Renewal applications should be submitted by January 1 of each year. Owners may renew permits between January 1 and April 1 for an additional $150 late fee.

  5. Number of permits
    No lottery for permits will occur until the number of participants falls below 50, or until stock assessments and harvest levels are determined for the majority of species on the nearshore Developmental Fisheries list. An initial target level of 50 vessels is consistent with the goal of reducing fleet size by at least 50%.

  6. Gear Restrictions
    Based on qualifying landings by gear type, permits would be issued for either hook-and-line gear (including longline gear) or traps (pots) for directed harvest of Developmental Fisheries nearshore species. Traps will be limited to 50 per permit.

  7. Information Requirements
    Logbooks are required to be kept by permit holders when fishing for black rockfish, blue rockfish, or other nearshore fish.

  8. Incidental Catch Allowance
    Vessels without a black/blue rockfish permit with nearshore endorsement may land up to 15 pounds of nearshore species as incidental catch, provided that the non-nearshore species comprise more than 75% of the catch and the incidental catch is caught with gear legal in the targeted fish fishery.

Other Regulation Changes

  1. Size Limit Change for Cabezon
    The minimum length required for cabezon was raised from 14 inches to 16 inches.

  2. Area Restrictions
    1. It is unlawful to take or retain more than 200 pounds of black rockfish, or 65 fish, whichever is greater, per vessel from a single fishing trip within on the following areas:
      1. Tillamook Head (45 56' 45" N. latitude) to Cape Lookout (45 20' 15" N. latitude),
      2. Cascade Head (45 03" 50" N. latitude) to Cape Perpetua (44 18' N. latitude),
      3. From a point (43 30' N. latitude) approximately 8.5 nautical miles north of the Coos Bay north jetty to a point (43 03' N. latitude) adjacent to the mouth of Four-mile Creek,
      4. Mack Arch (42 13' 40" N. latitude) to the Oregon/California border (42 N. latitude).

    2. No vessel shall take, retain, possess, or land more than the allowed trip limit when fishing occurs for any species of fish within one of these restricted areas.

      Adopting special black rockfish management areas minimizes user conflicts and recognizes differences in needs of the fishing communities up and down the coast. These management areas are established near port areas with significant recreational groundfish fisheries.

Future Management Measures

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will revisit issues related to nearshore groundfish management in December in Salem. The Commission will consider adoption of 2005 commercial and recreational groundfish harvest regulations at that time.

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