From Wild Steelheaders United
After more than two years of plan development and stakeholder meetings, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is accepting public comments on its Rogue-South Coast Multi-Species Conservation and Management Plan (RSP). The plan proposes to continue harvest of wild steelhead without adequate monitoring data available. Additionally, the RSP has the following shortcomings:
-Does not propose to collect population level data for run size and escapement in all populations
-Lacks the ability to determine population specific harvest rates or fishery impacts to the most sensitive fish stocks, such as summer steelhead
-Relies on averaging harvest rates over several years rather than ensuring that harvest rates do not exceed maximums in any given year
-Does not estimate catch and release mortality and include it in harvest numbers
-Uses juvenile abundance and/or presence for forecasting run sizes
These issues will not allow managers to adequately assess the population dynamics of wild steelhead and continued wild harvest under these circumstances may have lasting, negative impacts on south coast salmonid populations. For this reason, we cannot support a framework that allows wild harvest in the absence of adequate data.
This alternative will help ensure we don’t trade short term opportunity for the long-term health of wild steelhead.
The plan also proposes several changes to hatchery management in the South Coast region as well. ODFW has specifically asked for feedback on the following actions which did not reach consensus in the stakeholder process.
-Increase the distribution of hatchery steelhead in the Rogue by adding an additional off-station release site in a wild steelhead spawning tributary
-A 25% increase in the number of hatchery coho smolts released in the Rogue
-Creation of two Mixed Emphasis areas in Euchre Creek and the Winchuck River which would leave the door open for new hatchery programs
-A proposed 10% goal for PHOS in all populations
These programs would have a variety of effects or risks on wild steelhead and coho, you can read more here.
WHAT WE NEED FROM YOU:
Please click here to tell ODFW to select Alternative A (Catch and Release) under the Winter Steelhead Angling Framework and reduce risk to wild steelhead. Comments are due by 11:59 PM on August 1, 2021.
Thank you for taking action on behalf of wild steelhead!
Dean Finnerty, Sophia Kaelke, and the Wild Steelheaders United team at Trout Unlimited