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Fish and Wildlife Commission to reconsider barbless hook requirements

Jan. 2, 2015

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider a rule change that will allow salmon, steelhead and trout anglers to use barbed hooks on the lower Willamette River, Youngs Bay, and lower Gnat Creek when it meets in Salem on Jan. 9, 2015.

The meeting begins at 8 a.m. at the ODFW headquarters building, 4034 Fairview Industrial Dr. SE, Salem, Ore. 97302. The meeting will be chaired by Michael Finley, who was recently appointed the new Commission Chair by Governor John Kitzhaber. Finley has been on the Commission since 2011. He succeeds Bobby Levy as chair. Levy will continue to serve on the Commission until a replacement is named.

The meeting agenda also includes several informational briefings, to include an update on implementation of Columbia River fisheries management reforms, progress on the 10-year update and revision of the Oregon Conservation and Nearshore strategies, and development of a state management plan for marine fisheries.

The current barbless hook requirement on the lower Willamette went into effect in 2013 as part of the Columbia River Fisheries Management Reform package adopted by the Commission in 2012. ODFW staff is now recommending a rule change that would make barbed hooks legal on the lower Willamette River, inside Youngs Bay, and in lower Gnat Creek. This change would not affect the barbless hook requirement in the mainstem Columbia River, or in select areas within the Columbia River Zone (Blind Slough/Knappa Slough

The intent of the barbless hook rule was to reduce mortality among ESA listed salmon and steelhead caught and released by anglers. However, there are high proportions of hatchery fish caught in these areas and ODFW has more flexibility in how it manages ESA limitations in the Willlamette than on the mainstem Columbia.

In addition, the growing number of interactions between anglers and California sea lions in the lower Willamette River during the popular spring Chinook fishery prompted staff to recommend that the Commission reconsider the potential trade-off between the use of barbless hooks and angler satisfaction is these areas with a high proportion of hatchery fish.

The Commission also will be asked to set harvest specifications and season structure for recreational groundfish that includes significant changes to the composition of the seven fish daily bag limit for marine fish. In order to maintain recreational catches within decreased federally determined harvest guidelines, the proposed rules would limit anglers to one blue rockfish as part of the seven-fish limit and the retention of China, copper and quillback rock fish would be prohibited. As a result of improved stock status for canary rockfish, ODFW staff is also recommending anglers be allowed to retain one canary rockfish as part of the daily bag limit; retention of this species has been prohibited since 2004, as the stock was rebuilding.

The Commission also will consider new management measures for the commercial nearshore fishery, which targets these same species. These proposed measures will increase the harvest limits for black rockfish and reduce the harvest limits for blue rockfish and other nearshore rockfish.

In other business, the Commission will:

  • Be asked to 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.
  • Hear updates and progress reports on:
    • Status of implementation of management and reform rules for Columbia River Fisheries. Accomplishments for 2014 include continued enhancement of off-channel select areas with the release of over nine million salmon smolts; evaluation of new off-channel select areas; and implementation of a pilot commercial fall season seine fishery in the main stem. Staff also will provide an update on stock status of white sturgeon in the lower Columbia.
    • Creation of a framework to develop a marine fishery management plan that will apply the principles of the ODFW Native Fish Conservation Plan to marine species and fisheries.
    • The 10-year revision of the Oregon Conservation Strategy and Oregon Nearshore Strategy, both of which are broad, overarching strategies for long-term conservation of Oregon’s native fish and wildlife. Revision of both strategies will have extensive public involvement and technical review and be brought to the Commission for approval by September 2015. The documents must be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by October 1, 2015.

The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in the state. People wanting to testify about 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. Testimony for issues not on the agenda is held Friday morning, immediately following the expenditure report.
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.




Jessica Sall,, (503) 947-6023
Meghan Dugan,, (541) 440-3353 ext. 252

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