Oregon fishermen have more opportunities to catch rockfish, or groundfish, following NOAA Fisheries’ approval of a new ocean fishery that uses selective gear to target plentiful species off Oregon while avoiding over-fished species.
NOAA Fisheries this week announced a final rule authorizing a new Oregon recreational fishery for groundfish, such as yelloweye and widow rockfish, at midwater depths greater than 40 fathoms. Recreational fishing for rockfish off Oregon generates more than $14 million for the state’s economy annually and has been the largest recreational ocean fishery in the state in recent years. The new fishery is expected to add to these economic benefits.
“People have been waiting a long time for this, so it’s a great opportunity to expand opportunities while still protecting those fish that need it,” said John Holloway of the Recreational Fishing Alliance in Oregon and chair of the Groundfish Advisory Subpanel at the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC). The PFMC endorsed the new fishery, which will begin in April.
Since 2004, recreational fishermen pursuing rockfish in Oregon had been limited to shallow depths during peak summer months to avoid impacts on overfished deeper water species such as yelloweye rockfish. That left some coastal communities with no recreational fishing for groundfish, a mainstay of the coastal economy.
The new fishery, which operates around offshore reefs at midwater depths, will also help disperse fishing pressure from nearshore reefs and reducing the likelihood that nearshore fishing will hit its limits and close early, as it did last year. It will also give charter boats an alternative to salmon fishing in years of low salmon abundance.
Holloway helped suggest the new recreational fishery some 10 years ago, drawing on a commercial fishing method using a “long leader,” a type of hook and line gear, which suspends hooks and lures at least 30 feet off the sea floor. That avoids sensitive groundfish species such as yelloweye rockfish that dwell on the bottom and are still recovering from overfishing in the 1990s.
Recreational fishermen tested the long-leader method under an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) supported by the PFMC and authorized by NOAA Fisheries that gave them special permission to fish in Rockfish Conservation Areas usually closed to fishing. They found that long-leader gear catches plentiful species that live higher in the water column, while almost entirely avoiding overfished species, such as yelloweye, that are managed under rebuilding plans to increase their population.
“The fishing community helped demonstrate to us that long leaders caught the fish they wanted to catch, and now the fishing community is benefiting,” said Gretchen Hanshew, Branch Chief for Groundfish and Coastal Pelagic Species in NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region. “It took some time, but fishing communities and the economy should all benefit.”
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) provided onboard observers to support the EFP fishing, as well as assistance in developing an environmental assessment and drafting new regulations allowing the fishery.
A state report on the experimental fishing aboard charter boats from Newport and Depoe Bay concluded that the long-leader gear has “much lower bycatch rates for yelloweye and canary rockfish in comparison to current West Coast recreational fishing practices.” NOAA Fisheries helped fund the test fishing.
The numbers back up the findings. During test fishing over a three-year period, fishermen caught hundreds of rockfish weighting 5.4 metric tons, but only two yelloweye, Holloway said.
“We were fishing in the middle of the area and hardly catching any yelloweye,” he said. He praised the collaboration between fishermen and managers to test and apply an innovative fishing method that benefits both fishing and the environment. “It’s a simple approach that works for everyone.”
The closure of the 2017 commercial ocean salmon troll fishery off the West Coast is estimated to have cost $5.8 million to $8.9 million in lost income for fishermen, with the loss of 200 to 330 jobs, according to a new model that determines the cost of fisheries closures based on the choices fishermen make.
Scientists hope the model, described for the first time this week in Marine Policy, will help policy makers anticipate the economic toll of fisheries closures. Such foresight may be especially useful as conditions in the California Current off the West Coast grow increasingly variable, leading to more potential closures, said lead author Kate Richerson, a marine ecologist with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center and the University of Washington.
“We’re probably only going to see more of these closures in the future,” she said, “so being able to predict their effects and fallout for coastal communities puts us ahead of the curve in terms of considering those impacts in planning and management decisions.”
The new model estimates the future losses associated with fisheries closures based on the way fishermen reacted to previous closures. It anticipates, for instance, that many fishermen will simply quit fishing rather than shift their efforts to another fishery instead. In this way, the model accounts for the difficulty fishermen face in entering other fisheries with limited permits, Richerson said.
The research is the first attempt to predict the effect of fisheries closures before they happen, said Dan Holland, an economist at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center and co-author of the study. The model, developed prior to the 2017 closure, also can help identify the most affected communities.
For example, Coos Bay and Brookings and Eureka, Calif., were among the hardest hit by the 2017 salmon closures because they are geographically located in the center of the closure that stretched from Northern California to Oregon. The closure led to the estimated loss of about 50 percent of fisheries-related employment in Coos Bay and about 35 percent declines in fishing-related income and sales. Predicted percentage declines in overall fishing-related income are lower than declines in salmon income, since many fishermen were predicted to continue to participate in other fisheries.
The study estimated that the closure led to a loss of $12.8 million to $19.6 million in sales. Richerson noted that the model estimates only the economic consequences of the closure to the commercial ocean salmon fishery and does not include the toll on recreational fisheries or in-river fisheries, which would make the total losses even higher.
The closure recommended by the Pacific Fishery Management Council and adopted by NOAA Fisheries was designed to protect low returns of salmon to the Klamath River in Northern California.
Coos Bay City Council took a big step forward in the city’s library project by approving a location for its new library facility.
The city will now enter into purchasing agreements for a piece of property along Ocean Boulevard located to the east of Verger Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealership.
For some time now the city has known that the Coos Bay Library’s foundation will not be secure for too much longer. It was built in 1960 on fill land and is slowly sinking.
“We investigated what it was going to cost to fix it. I want to say that was in 2014, and it was going to cost $6.3 million to fix it. And that would only address the foundation and not the myriad of other issues with that original 1960 building,” City Manager Rodger Craddock said.
At that time the city began looking for other places where they could move the library.
It was the decision of the council at that time not to invest in that buildings repairs, but to find another location. There were a number of steps taken to date, which included town hall meetings, a needs assessment, some re-branding and committee and subcommittee was formed,” Craddock said.
Many wanted the library to relocate somewhere in downtown Coos Bay. However, the city was unable to do so because of laws preventing a facility of that size to be developed in a tsunami zone.
After months of searching, the city decided to enter into discussions with two locations to develop the new library on. The first was the former site of Gussies Bar in Empire. The second was a property on Ocean Boulevard that is adjacent to a piece of property owned by Verger’s, Craddock said.
“We were unable to find an agreement with the owners of the old Gussies facility, but we did have a tentative agreement with the Wave Young Trust who owns the property next to Verger’s for $625,000,” Craddock said.
Craddock told the council before their vote that he believes this is the next logical step toward developing a new library.
“The next step after we purchase the property will probably be getting some renderings of what the library might look like, possibly a floor plan,” Craddock said.
Though the gears are turning, Craddock still suspects that this project could be still be five years from completion. During the needs assessment for the new library a rough cost figure of $16 million for the entire project was estimated.
“Capital funding is really going to be the tough piece. How are we going to raise those funds? We have to figure out if it’s through grants and whether or not those grants are available. Maybe it’s going out and seeking donations,” Craddock said.
One thing that the city is looking into to help fund the new facility is to possibly share space at the new facility with another community service organization to make the library eligible for potential grants, as well as provide a secondary service with the new facility
“There were talks of a fire station, there were talks of a senior center, or maybe an emergency disaster place where people can come for housing during a disaster. We’re going to explore a lot of different avenues to find where we can find some dollars to help build this library,” Craddock said.
Craddock would like to assure the city that the current library is still safe.
WASHINGTON — Frustrated by slow action on a big campaign promise, President Donald Trump said Tuesday he wants to use the military to secure the U.S.-Mexico border until his promised border wall is built.
Trump told reporters he's been discussing the idea with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
"We're going to be doing things militarily. Until we can have a wall and proper security, we're going to be guarding our border with the military," Trump said, calling the move a "big step."
It was unclear exactly how the proposal would work or what kind of troops Trump wanted to deploy.
Federal law prohibits the use of active-duty service members for law enforcement inside the U.S., unless specifically authorized by Congress. But over the past 12 years, presidents have twice sent National Guard troops to the border to bolster security and assist with surveillance and other support. An official said the White House counsel's office has been working on the idea for several weeks.
Trump has been annoyed by the lack of progress on building what was the signature promise of his campaign: a "big, beautiful wall" along the Mexican border. He's previously suggested using the Pentagon's budget to pay for building the wall, arguing it is a national security priority, despite strict rules that prohibit spending that's not authorized by Congress.
The Department of Homeland Security and White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment. At the Pentagon, officials were struggling to answer questions about the plan, including rudimentary details on whether it would involve National Guard members.
But officials appeared to be considering a model similar to a 2006 operation in which President George W. Bush deployed National Guard troops to the southern border.
Under Operation Jump Start, 6,000 National Guard troops were sent to assist the border patrol with non-law enforcement duties while additional border agents were hired and trained. Over two years, about 29,000 National Guard forces participated, as forces rotated in and out. The Guard members were used for surveillance, communications, administrative support, intelligence, analysis and the installation of border security infrastructure.
In addition, President Barack Obama sent about 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in 2010 to beef up efforts to battle drug smuggling and illegal immigration.
Texas has also deployed military forces to its 800-mile border with Mexico. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, now serving as Trump's energy secretary, sent 1,000 Texas National Guardsmen to the Rio Grande Valley in 2014 in response to a sharp increase in Central American children crossing the border alone.
Trump met Tuesday with top administration officials, including Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to discuss the administration's strategy to address what White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders described as "the growing influx of illegal immigration, drugs and violent gang members from Central America."
In addition to mobilizing the National Guard, Trump and senior officials "agreed on the need to pressure Congress to urgently pass legislation to close legal loopholes exploited by criminal trafficking, narco-terrorist and smuggling organizations," Sanders said.
The meeting and comments came amid a flurry of tweets by the president on the subject over the last several days.
Trump has been fixated on the issue since he grudgingly signed a spending bill last month that includes far less money for the wall than he'd hoped for.
The $1.3 trillion package included $1.6 billion for border wall spending — a fraction of the $25 billion Trump made a last-minute push to secure. And much of that money can be used only to repair existing segments, not to build new sections.
Trump spent the first months of his presidency bragging about a dramatic drop in illegal border crossings, and indeed the 2017 fiscal year marked a 45-year low for Border Patrol arrests. But the numbers have been slowly ticking up since last April and are now on par with many months of the Obama administration. Statistics show 36,695 arrests of people trying to cross the southwest border in February 2018, up from 23,555 in the same month of the previous year.
Trump appeared to take credit Tuesday for halting a caravan of about 1,100 migrants, many from Honduras, who had been marching along roadsides and train tracks in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.
"I said (to Mexican officials), 'I hope you're going to tell that caravan not to get up to the border.' And I think they're doing that because, as of 12 minutes ago, it was all being broken up," he said.
But the caravan of largely Central American migrants had never intended to reach the U.S. border, according to organizer Irineo Mujica. It was meant to end at a migrants' rights symposium in central Mexico later this week.
The caravan stopped to camp at a sports field in Oaxaca over the weekend. Mexican immigration officers have been signing them up for temporary transit visas, which would allow them to travel to the U.S. border, possibly to seek asylum, or to seek asylum status in Mexico.