Hatchery fish addicts buck ODFW steelhead plan for Siuslaw watershed

ODFW biologists presented its Coastal Multi-Species Conservation and Management Plan recently to an unhappy standing room only crowd in Mapleton, according to this weird DIY news Website.

The new plan is supposed to be a grand compromise between native fish supporters and hatchery addicts. To oversimplify, ODFW biologists are trying to identify highly productive and biologically significant populations of wild salmonids and to protect them by limiting hatchery impacts (i.e. stocking less). The other side of the coin, some watersheds will be designated to receive more hatchery fish. The number of hatchery fish on the coast would remain about the same, but they would be directed to areas that would be less harmful to sensitive wild populations.

Oregon Winter Steelhead Fishing

Sounds like a win-win, until ODFW stops stocking your favorite fishing hole.

Native fish advocates aren’t thrilled either. What happens when the struggling native fish population you’ve worked your ass off to protect is designated a hatchery dumping ground?

If nobody’s happy, it’s probably a good compromise. But that doesn’t mean it’s politically possible.

The issue discussed in the meeting involves taking hatchery fish off of Lake Creek, a high quality habitat for wild steelhead in the Siuslaw watershed. Those same hatchery fish would be deployed downstream in the Siuslaw mainstem. But from the sound of it, the entire town of Deadwood came out against it.

If you’re interested in finding out what happens next, the ODFW website points you to Tom Stahl, Conservation and Recovery Assistant Program Manager (503) 947-6219 Thomas.Stahl@state.or.us.

UPDATE: Ethan Nickel, who guides fly fishing trips in the Siuslaw watershed, pointed out a couple items I’d left out of the post. First, the Lake Creek changes would also include harvest on wild winter steelhead — one per day, three per season. Ethan mentioned that this model may be more harmful to the local wild steelhead population than the current hatchery program, due to the life histories of both the wild and hatchery fish on this section of river.


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2 Responses to Hatchery fish addicts buck ODFW steelhead plan for Siuslaw watershed

  1. Sam says:

    One problem with opening the door to wild fish harvest is that it tends to spread as a management practice. Witness the increasing numbers of areas where harvesting of wild coho is allowed. Last year’s coho returns (and wild fish harvest numbers) are a clear reminder that our coho stocks are not out of the woods by any measure.

  2. Dave says:

    Why are we still allowing the harvest of wild steelhead? In my area (so. Or coast) we are allowed one per day with a total of five per year. This includes the small streams and rivers in the region that allow fishing from boats.

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