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Commission continues suspension of recreational abalone fishery

December 15, 2023

SALEM, Ore.— The Commission suspended the recreational abalone fishery indefinitely today after sharp declines in the population in recent years due to environmental changes.

Warm water events have reduced kelp abundance and food for red abalone. Surveys in the Brookings area found an 82 percent reduction in kelp beds between 2010-2022. When sea stars populations crashed due to wasting disease, purple urchins proliferated, further reducing food for red abalone.

Oregon's red abalones are part of a regional population (Baja to OR) and are not self-sustaining, relying on dispersal from other areas. Red abalone have also declined sharply in California where the fishery is also closed.

The recreational fishery for abalone was suspended for consecutive three-year periods in 2018 and 2021. It is now closed with no sunset date. Commissioners also heard an informational briefing on the recently completed Conservation and Fishery Management Plan (CFMP) for red abalone.

In other business Friday, the Commission:
Adopted the revised sage-grouse core and low-density habitat map: Identifying the most productive sage-grouse populations and habitats (core areas) and the important habitats for connectivity among these core areas (low-density areas) is a critical part of Oregon's Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Assessment and Strategy. The map of these areas was due for a revision as these habitats were originally delineated in 2011. The revision incorporates new data collected since 2011, utilizing the best available science to identify areas that currently provide breeding, brood-rearing and summering, wintering, and migratory habitats for greater sage-grouse in Oregon.

Adopted 2024 Commercial and Recreational Groundfish Regulations and Territorial Sea Plan Revisions: Adopted as proposed by staff. Trip limits for the commercial nearshore fishery are the same as 2023, except for increases to black rockfish limits in two periods. 2024 recreational seasons are similar to 2023 including: 5-fish marine bag limit, 12-fish bag limit for the longleader fishery, no retention of yelloweye and quillback rockfish, year-round all-depth bottomfish fishery. The revisions to the Territorial Sea Plan were needed to conform to changes already made by the Ocean Policy Advisory Council of the Land Conservation and Development Commission. These change the name of some existing marine management areas (without changing boundaries or harvest restrictions) and add six new marine management areas with restrictions on commercial harvest.

Revised Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund (OCRF) rules: OCRF was established by the Oregon State Legislature in 2019 as a way for Oregonians to support a broad range of conservation and recreation efforts throughout the state. To date, the OCRF Advisory Committee has funded 140 projects through six rounds of competitive request for proposals (RFP). To clarify the RFP process, the Department revised rules to include some of the established procedures outlined in the OCRF Expenditure Framework and also allow the OCRF to offer Urgent Grants outside of the regular granting cycle, which aligns with the Private Forest Accord Grant Program's operating procedures.

Restoration and Enhancement and Access and Habitat Programs: Approved funding for projects including replacing fishing docks at Vernonia Lake and extending Open Fields hunting access program for one year. Appointed Fred Cholick of Bend to represent Sport Fishing interests and Brett Montague to represent Commercial Salmon industry interests on the R&E Board.

Revoked commercial fishing license of Longs Seafood of Portland for one year: Longs Seafood Market has been convicted five times for violations of the commercial fishing laws. Oregon administrative rules calls for initiating proceedings to revoke commercial fishing license after three convictions.

Also today, Commissioner Becky Hatfield-Hyde was elected Vice-Chair unanimously by other Commissioners.

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