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Commission meets in Gold Beach Sept. 12-13

Friday, September 6, 2019

SALEM, Ore.—The Fish and Commission will tour the southwest coast on Sept. 12 and host their monthly meeting Friday, Sept. 13 in Gold Beach at the Curry County Fairgrounds, Docia Room, 29392 Ellensburg Ave, Gold Beach.

The meeting and tour agenda is available online at https://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/commission/minutes/19/09_Sep/index.asp

To join the tour, which includes stops at the Huntley Park Seining Project and Port Orford commercial fishing dock, be at the SureStay Plus Hotel Gold Beach by 7:45 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 12. Members of the public may join the tour but must provide their own transportation and lunch.

Friday’s meeting begins at 8 a.m. In the morning during the Director’s Report, Commissioners will hear an update on the status of abalone in Oregon. Also, Mark Duda with Responsive Management will be presenting the results of a survey that was recently completed of Oregon deer and elk hunters’ attitudes towards big game management and hunting opportunities.

The Commission will adopt 2020 Big Game Regulations. Some major changes are proposed for 2020 as part of efforts to review and improve hunting regulations; these were first announced in late May. Those changes include simplifying the Western Oregon deer bag limit to allow for spike harvest by changing it from “one buck deer having not less than a forked antler” to “one buck with a visible antler.” While the change may result in an increase in buck harvest, there are sufficient bucks in the population to support increased harvest.

ODFW is also proposing a new General Season Antlerless Elk Damage Tag in areas of the state with high elk damage to replace 19 controlled hunts and the need to provide damage tags to landowners. Hunters taking advantage of this new opportunity would still need permission to hunt on private land to use the tag and it would be their only elk hunting opportunity.

In a change from the original late May proposal, ODFW is no longer proposing to move three 600 series hunts (Orchards, Umatilla NWR No. 3 and W. Blue Mtn hunts) to the 100 series buck hunts. These hunts will remain the same (allowing either-sex harvest). The change is based on public comments about the proposal and informal Commission direction.

The Commission will also be asked to approve funding for several Access and Habitat projects, which provide hunting access or improve habitat on private land.

Changes to fixed gear fisheries regulations, including those for both commercial and recreational crabbing, will also be considered to address challenges presented by changing ocean conditions. Since 2014, the West Coast has seen an elevated level of whale entanglements in fishing gear, though relatively few of these are attributed to Oregon fishing gear. Changes in whale behavior (migration and feeding patterns) due to ocean conditions, climate change and effects from the Blob (the marine heatwave) are believed to be factors in the increased entanglement rate. ODFW, NOAA and the Oregon crabbing industry have been working to understand and address this problem so that both whales and fixed gear fisheries can co-exist. To help understand where and when whales are most abundant in Oregon waters and how those areas overlap in time and space with Oregon’s fixed-gear fisheries, ODFW is partnering with Oregon State University to research whale distribution patterns off Oregon with funding from the commercial crab industry and the federal government.

To address whale entanglements, ODFW recommends a phased approach over several years, and the first phase regulations are proposed this month to focus on informational and accountability measures. Under the proposal to be presented at Friday’s meetings, gear marking of surface buoys will be required of all fisheries that do not already do so, including recreational crabbers and commercial fixed gear fisheries such as commercial bay crab. If adopted, all recreational crabbing gear and commercial fixed gear will be required to have permanently marked identifying information on buoys beginning Jan. 1, 2020. ODFW will also be recommending new buoy color registration requirements for the commercial ocean crab fishery.

To prepare for future phases of rule-making to reduce the risk of whale entanglements, the Commission will also be asked to set Aug. 14, 2018 as the control date for potential development of future limitation on participation during months when whales are most abundant.

Also being considered by the Commission are regulations related to Harmful Algal Bloom biotoxin management (particularly domoic acid) in the crab fishery and the commercial ocean Dungeness crab fishery season opening process.

ODFW will host a series of public meetings for the commercial ocean Dungeness crab fishery on possible future regulatory measures to reduce whale entanglements in October. Meetings will be held in Coos Bay (Oct. 17), Brookings (Oct. 18), Astoria (Oct. 22) and Newport (Oct. 23). More details about the meetings including locations will be available later in September.

Finally, the Commission will be asked to change rules related to the hunting and trapping of Humboldt marten. Commissioners accepted a petition for rulemaking from several environmental groups last year (on Aug. 3, 2018). Humboldt martens are a subspecies of Pacific marten with a historical range located west of I-5 and more recently Lincoln and Benton counties south to Curry County. No Humboldt marten have been harvested since 2014. ODFW staff are proposing to prohibit any marten harvest in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, which is an important area for marten research, and require any future marten harvested west of I-5 be submitted to ODFW for monitoring and data collection.

A public forum will be held Friday morning after the Director’s report for people who wish to testify about an issue not on the formal meeting agenda. Call the ODFW Director’s office at least 48 hours before the meeting at (503) 947-6044 to schedule.

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Contact:

Michelle Dennehy, (503) 947-6022, Michelle.N.Dennehy@state.or.us

 
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