SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will be hosting public meetings in several coastal communities to solicit input on regulations for the 2009 fall chinook salmon season and on new wild coho fisheries being proposed for selected waters on the Oregon coast.
The meetings are planned for April 28-30 in North Bend, Newport, Gold Beach and Tillamook.
While fishery biologists predict another weak return of fall chinook to coastal rivers, bays and estuaries, they also are anticipating a large wild coho salmon return that could mean the first wild coho fisheries in an Oregon coast river basin since 1994. These proposed fisheries will have daily and seasonal bags limits and overall quotas similar to fisheries on wild coho that have been open in Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes since 2003.
“We anticipate the final 2009 regulations for coastal fall chinook may look a lot like the emergency regulations put in place last year for some rivers but may need to be more restrictive for other rivers,” said Ron Boyce, ODFW Ocean Salmon Columbia River Program manager.
“I think chinook anglers who were on the coastal rivers and bays last year saw just how poor the return was,” Boyce said. “We’re not predicting this year’s return to be much better.”
But the prediction for coastal coho salmon is much brighter, according to Bob Buckman, ODFW district fish biologist in Newport.
Buckman credits a combination of factors for the large coho return, including a good spawning population in 2006 (the parents of this year’s returning fish), favorable ocean conditions, and the habitat protection and restoration activities that have occurred under the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds.
The proposed regulations call for limited wild coho fisheries in the tidewater areas of the Nehalem, Yaquina, Coos, and Coquille rivers. The Oregon Coast coho is currently listed as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act. This has required ODFW to conduct extensive biological analysis and take a very precautionary approach in proposing the fisheries.
“The recent history of coho returns has been good,” said Buckman. “Combine that with the expected large return this year and we’re confident that a conservative fishery is consistent with the continued conservation of these fish populations.”
Any plan to allow the harvest of wild coastal coho must first be approved by NOAA-Fisheries and the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission.
At the upcoming public meetings ODFW staff will present information on the run forecasts and proposed structures of the seasons.
“We also hope to get some feedback from the public that we can present to the Fish and Wildlife Commission when it considers these fisheries at its June meeting,” Boyce said.
All meetings are from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. The meeting dates and locations are:
North Bend Community Center, 2222 Broadway St, North Bend
Contact: Gary Vonderohe, ODFW, (541) 888-5515
Hallmark Resort Newport, 744 Elizabeth, Newport
Contact: Bob Buckman, ODFW, (541) 265-8306 X224
Curry Showcase Bldg., Curry Co. Fairgrounds, 29392 Ellensburg Ave. (Hwy 101), Gold Beach
Contact: Todd Confer, ODFW, (541) 247-7605
Oregon Dept. of Forestry, 5005 Third St., Tillamook
Contact: Chris Knutsen, ODFW, (503) 842-2741