ROSEBURG – Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officials will not move forward with a proposal to allow wild coho harvest in the Coos and Coquille rivers this fall. The decision was made based upon the uncertainty of the legal status of wild coho on the Oregon coast.
In July, ODFW held a public meeting in Coos Bay to gauge public support for a conservative fishery on wild coho.
“We heard from the local public that they would really like to have a wild coho fishery in the Coos and Coquille estuaries. We intend to honor that request with a new proposal next year consistent with the conservation needs of these fish,” said Kevin Goodson, Conservation Planning Coordinator with ODFW.
A court case is currently in progress that has challenged the National Marine Fisheries Service’s January 2006 decision not to list Oregon Coast coho under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). A Federal District judge will make a ruling on the case sometime this fall or winter.
Goodson said that although a conservative wild coho fishery was biologically defensible this year in the Coos and Coquille rivers, there is too much uncertainty as to the fish’s ESA status and corresponding legal implications. Goodson expects a good return of wild coho this year, a further sign that coho in the Coquille and Coos are healthy.
“We will work with local fishery biologists to obtain the necessary federal approval in the event that coastal coho are re-listed under the ESA and come back with a revised harvest proposal in 2008,” Goodson said. “Hopefully this time next year, folks will be able to keep a few wild coho on the Coos and Coquille.”
The mission of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is to protect and enhance Oregon's fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations. The agency consists of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, a commission-appointed director and a statewide staff of approximately 950 permanent employees. Headquartered in Salem, ODFW has regional offices in Clackamas, Roseburg, Bend, and La Grande with ten district offices located throughout the state. For additional information, please visit www.dfw.state.or.us.