Winter steelhead fishing

An angler works the bank with a bobber and jig while looking for winter steelhead along the lower Clackamas River in late December (2016).

The Fish and Wildlife Commission denied a petition to prohibit the retention of wild winter steelhead in rivers throughout the SW Zone via temporary rule in a split vote (4-2). The Commission heard from more than 50 people who signed up to testify for and against the petition.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) staff had recommended Commissioners deny this petition as staff do not have a conservation concern for wild winter steelhead on the south coast for 2020. The declines in wild steelhead in other parts of the state have not been observed in the SW Zone and current regulations are already conservative. Also, staff continue to work on a multi-species conservation plan for the Rogue and South Coast where concerns about wild steelhead are being addressed. Commissioners denied a similar petition in 2018.

The Commission also approved a fish screening payment-in-lieu pilot program, where qualifying applicants in the SE fish district would have the option of paying a fee to the fish screening sub-account for use on other projects instead of installing a fish screen; adopted schedule of damages for commercial fishing violations, which are based on food fish species market values; and heard a briefing on ODFW’s draft Climate and Ocean Change Policy and a summary of public comments received to date. The Policy would provide overarching guidance on responding to changing climate and ocean conditions, including coordination of the response with other state, federal, local and tribal entities and incorporating climate and ocean change awareness into ODFW’s science and resource management. The Commission is expected to adopt a final Policy later in the year.

Finally, Commissioners appointed Greg Wolley Vice-Chair.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in the state. Its next meeting is Friday, Feb. 7. in Tigard. On Thursday, Feb. 6, Commissioners will be at ODFW’s booth at the Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show at the Portland Expo Center to chat with hunters and anglers who stop by the booth. More details including what times Commissioners will be at ODFW’s booth will be announced in early February.

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