The Fish and Wildlife Commission recently adopted regulations for implementing the Oregon Dungeness Crab Fishery Management Plan, the first Dungeness crab fishery management plan to be developed on the west coast.
The FMP describes the status of Dungeness crab and the Department’s management of two commercial crab fisheries (bay and ocean) and the recreational crab fishery in the bays and ocean.
Dungeness crab is an iconic Oregon species and forms the economic backbone of commercial activity along the coast, including tourism, recreational crabbing and seafood industries. In describing the fishery sectors and the management approach of each, the FMP provides a transparent reference for the rationale behind the Department’s research, monitoring and regulatory approaches to sustainably managing Dungeness crab and providing access to all harvesters.
While the majority of regulations are already in place for the management described in the FMP, there are several minor implementing regulations the Commission adopted today including a bay commercial logbook requirement, adjustments to late-season buoy tag allowances for the ocean commercial sector, biotoxin management adjustments and fishing gear definitions within marine reserves (which apply to crab and all other commercial fixed gear fisheries).
The Commission also amended OARs for the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Advisory Committee (OCRF), to reflect changes to the Advisory Committee's membership made by House Bill 2171, which was passed in the 2021 Oregon Legislative Session. The OCRF program was created as an opportunity for all Oregonians to demonstrate support for building a broader conservation legacy for present and future generations. It is funded by general fund dollars matched with private contributions. Projects funded by OCRF help Oregon Conservation Strategy Species and create new opportunities for wildlife watching, urban conservation, community science, and other wildlife-associated recreation.
Commissioners also approved two OCRF funding recommendations including hiring a staff support position for the OCRF program and the Sea Otter Restoration Community Engagement project. The Sea Otter project will engage communities on the Oregon Coast (particularly the southern coast) with the goal of building support for restoring sea otters to the Oregon coast.
Finally, the Commission was briefed on the draft Rogue–South Coast Multi-Species Conservation and Management Plan. The Plan will guide management of winter steelhead, summer steelhead, coho salmon, and cutthroat trout in coastal watersheds of southwest Oregon, from the Elk River south to the Winchuck River, including the Rogue River.
The draft Plan was developed and revised after extensive engagement with stakeholder teams, habitat representatives, tribes, NOAA Fisheries, independent scientists, anglers, and public comment.
More than 80 people signed up to testify about the Plan including Senator Jeff Golden, Curry County Commissioner Court Boice, Representative Suzanne Weber, Coos County Commissioner Bob Main, Representative Boomer Wright and Representative David Brock Smith.
Most of the actions in the draft Plan have broad support and most of the testimony was either for or against the harvest of wild steelhead. Commissioners indicated the need for more discussion among themselves so an additional meeting to allow time for further discussion will be scheduled soon to still allow adoption of a final plan at the Dec. 17 Commission meeting.