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Commission sets groundfish rules

January 15, 2016

SALEM, Ore.—The Fish and Wildlife Commission met today in Salem.

Among other business, it set harvest specifications and season structure for recreational groundfish. Oregon’s rules are based on the federal rules adopted by the Pacific Fishery Management Council and 2016 harvest limits are the same as last year. This year’s recreational ground fish regulations will be a seven fish daily bag limit for all Marine Fish (rockfish, greenling, and cabezon), no more than one of which may be a Cabezon or Canary Rockfish, and no more than three of which may be a Blue or Deacon Rockfish.

The Commission also set by rule the average market price per pound of each species of fish commercially-harvested in Oregon. These values are adopted every January and are used to set damages in criminal cases associated with the unlawful taking of food fish.

They appointed James Morrell of Sisters, Ore. Chair of the statewide Access and Habitat Board, which distributes grants that improve hunting access and wildlife habitat on private lands.

The Commission’s business also included several briefings, including one on a proposed process for reviewing the Wolf Plan. The Plan is reviewed every five years and the last review was in 2010; however the Commission delayed the review a year as it considered (and ultimately approved) delisting of the gray wolf from the state ESA in 2015. Under the proposal, ODFW staff would begin working on the Plan in February and meet with stakeholders in February, March and April, followed by evaluation and revisions in May and June. A draft updated Plan would be available in July and presented to the Commission in August 2016 with final consideration scheduled for the Commission’s October 2016 meeting. The review process will also include opportunities for the public to comment. The Commission expressed interest in meeting with stakeholders directly about the Plan review.

Finally, the Commission was briefed on a proposal to streamline the big game tag setting process. The Commission was generally supportive of the proposal but did want to see information about the following year’s season structure and changes in advance of the meeting.

The proposed new process would set tag numbers the September before the calendar year, basing tags on multiple year population trends instead of spring counts. Wildlife managers could still make emergency changes to tag numbers in spring if there were major population changes in wildlife herds. Under the new process, the Commission would consider big game regulations and tag numbers just once a year in September, after an informational briefing in August. The new process will allow ODFW to print the season’s final tag numbers in the regulations each year. (Currently, the previous year’s tag numbers are shown in the regulations.)

The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in the state and it usually meets monthly. The next meeting is Feb. 11-12 in Tigard, Ore.

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Contact:

Michelle Dennehy
Oregon Fish and Wildlife
(503) 947-6022 / (503) 931-2748
Michelle.N.Dennehy@state.or.us

 
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