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Commission approves emergency fall Chinook conservation hatchery program for Coquille River

View photos from this meeting.Photos by Bob Swingle, ODFW.

August 5, 2022

SALEM, Ore.—ODFW and the Coquille Indian Tribe will cooperatively implement an emergency fall Chinook hatchery program for the Coquille River to boost natural production of this severely depressed stock of fish while other steps are taken to reverse its decline, the Commission decided today.

Wild adult returns of Coquille River fall Chinook used to average about 8,000 - 10,000 fish yearly. Since 2018, runs have declined dramatically due to predation by smallmouth bass, with adult returns ranging from a low of 275 to a high of 900.

Non-native and illegally introduced smallmouth bass prey on out-migrating juvenile Chinook and thrive in the Coquille's warmer summer water temperatures and lower flows. Non-native striped bass, present for decades in the Coquille, also prey on juvenile salmon.

“The ability of the fall Chinook population to sustain itself is at risk and these fish could be extirpated,” said Chris Kern, ODFW West Region Manager. “The conservation hatchery program is an emergency measure to prevent extinction of the population and preserve its genetic legacy while limiting factors like predation are addressed.”

The program marks one of the first major efforts between ODFW and the Coquille Indian Tribe since their adoption of a cooperative management agreement in June 2022.

ODFW staff will be reporting regularly to the Commission on the status of the Coquille fall Chinook population and actions taken to address the decline.

The Commission also:
Determined role of ODFW lands for marbled murrelet conservation per the Oregon Endangered Species Act (OESA):  Where feasible, forested habitat on ODFW lands will be managed to contribute to their conservation and all relevant ODFW lands will continue to implement the survival guidelines for the marbled murrelet. The Commission also directed staff to consider surveying where patch size and forest structure indicates increased potential for murrelet nesting habitat and consider options to contribute to protection of adjacent high quality or potential habitat.

Adopted 2023 Sport Fishing Regulations: The few changes adopted today for 2023 regulations include moving to catch-and-release only for wild rainbow trout in the Fall River to help conserve wild populations. Bass fishing regulations will be standardized in streams (to no size and number limits) to both simplify regulations and help conserve native species where they overlap with bass populations. See the complete list of proposals which was passed by the commission as recommended by staff .

Other changes to sport fishing regulations already adopted by the Commission and the Oregon State Legislature will also take effect in 2023, including the Rogue-South Coast Plan . Beginning next year, a new Rogue-South Coast steelhead validation ($2 for residents / $4 for non-residents) will be required to fish for winter steelhead in SW Zone rivers from the Sixes River south to Winchuck River. A Rogue-South Coast wild steelhead harvest card ($10 for residents / $20 for nonresidents) will be required to retain wild steelhead in these rivers. Funds generated from these new products will support research and monitoring of steelhead in the Rogue-South Coast region.

After hearing a presentation on beaver management in Oregon, the Commission voted to support the recommendations of the Beaver Management Work Group including prioritizing landscape management options to increase beaver modified floodplain and integrating agency efforts to increase landscape scale restoration. 

A recording of today’s meeting is available at ODFW’s YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLleHsPDijGY1Jg_ubYFd7siAECfqzbrp 

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Contact:

Michelle Dennehy, (503) 931-2748, Michelle.N.Dennehy@odfw.oregon.gov

 
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