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Carmen Macdonald

A passion for fishing products and fisheries management has grown into a career that's included Alaskan guide, media sales,writer and board member of NSIA. My company, Vaunt Marketing, represents industry-leading brands in the US and Canadian markets.

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January 21, 2014

Comments on the Multi-Species Coastal Plan

by Carmen Macdonald

Last Thursday I made the evening meeting at ODFW headquarters in Salem regarding the proposed Multi-Species Management and Conservation Plan. I've been watching the plan for more than a year, keeping tabs as it maneuvered and changed within the process.

Just a few thoughts...

It's a hatchery and harvest plan, not a comprehensive management plan.
Make no mistake, this plan is about hatcheries and harvest. ODFW has pumped up the pages concerning habitat, but in essence the habitat plan is to outline a plan for making a plan and then punt to other venues. What so many of us anglers don't understand is that ODFW has no control over habitat. They talk about it a lot. They clearly described the future of fish in Oregon as requiring habitat work as issue number one, but they're powerless to do anything about it.
So all ODFW can manage is hatcheries and harvest. Without a habitat piece with teeth, calling this plan comprehensive is calling a glass of milk a well-rounded meal.

Deja vu
We did this same plan in the 1990's- minus all the hoopla and focus groups Governor Kitzhaber has associated with the process this time around, and yes, the Governor is behind this plan, as he was in the 1990's. In the 1990's all the hatchery programs were revised, most switched from segregated stocks to broodstock and nearly all were reduced in size or eliminated.
The operative question for the rest of the public meetings is- "what was accomplished the last time we did this?" ODFW owes anglers some answers. In the present state, the proposed plan would run 12 years and then go through review (oddly similar to the 1990s and now). If were not going to do any assessment of what happens, are we just going to get together again in 12 years and talk about how we have to cut hatcheries and harvest yet again? Frankly it's a little maddening.

No measurables
The only thing measured in numbers in the plan are the changes to hatchery fish production. The rest is broadly described in verbiage. Let's see some hard numbers. If removing hatchery fish from the Kilches is going to produce a "significant positive effect" as one of the straw man documents states, how many wild fish are there now and what is the expected number after a decade? Anglers deserve to know what the goals are and whether or not anything meaningful is being accomplished in cold hard numbers.
WIth regard to hatchery and wild fish interactions, ODFW is using a general statement that hatchery fish "pose some risk" to wild fish. It's time to define that statement. The "hatchery fish are bad" crowd interprets the science to say hatchery fish destroy wild fish. The "hatchery fish are good" crowd look at rivers like the Nehalem, Miami, Tillamook Neskowin, Smith and others and wonder if those totally unremarkable streams are the best we can do. ODFW needs to put some measurement to it- quantify what the science says in the real world. They've failed in this regard for at least the last 15 years. Do we want to offer another 12?

Opportunity missed
Within this plan there was an opportunity that's not taken. Like the wildlife side of ODFW has done with mule deer emphasis units, this plan could have described a couple intensive wild fish emphasis rivers. Where current wild fish management includes doing nothing except removing hatchery fish and catch-and-release fishing regulations because ODFW has no power over habitat, this plan could have rounded up other agencies to descend on a couple rivers to make them the examples of what could be done with regard to wild fish.

This plan could have taken a river like the Nehalem and defined action items to address the water temperatures, flows, sediment and every other evil apparent in the river. It's sad this opportunity was not taken. All anglers want thriving populations of wild fish, a lot of where we differ is in regards to whether or not they're attainable.

In total, I grow tired of hearing "less is more" from ODFW. Anglers vote with their time and from what I can see, they're voting for programs like the WIlson and the Nestucca in droves. Increasing the number of these quality opportunities are not part of the plan.

If removing hatchery programs is going to save fish...show me. Show me some demonstrative results, because at this point ODFW and Governor Kitzhaber completely lack this. If it's and buts were candies and nuts, we'd all have a merry Christmas.

It's a shame.

Comments (7)

FentonFly wrote 7 months ago

Well said again Carman and right to the point. You bring common sense I to this argument. Sad what we had and what we now have.


Irish Green wrote 7 months ago

As usual we the users and supporters ( buying tags and licenses )have little to say or do to improve the sport of fishing in our state. I've lived in this state for 70 yrs. and the opportunities in fishing have not kept up with the population growth.I continue to be amazed at all of us we continue to pay more for results that didn't and don't work. If we really want to change things for our state ,we need an elected commission from regions in every part of the state. Then,if we get no results we elect new members and hold them accountable for results.


roguesteelheader wrote 7 months ago

Very well said and I am 100% behind more hatchery programs. We need more fish not just native fish!


uplandsandpiper wrote 7 months ago

I agree with many of your points. The major issue in monitoring is the cost. I work with federal and state agencies in wildlife management and time and time again it is recognized that more monitoring is needed to inform decision making but there is never any money there. ODFW was probably told from powers above to develop this plan but given no additional funding to achieve goals. Directives without funding go nowhere.


fishnut999 wrote 7 months ago

Irish Green is right on the money as I too have lived in this state almost all my life & I am 73 years young. If you will, remember back to the late 70's, 80's & into the 90's when the volunteer STEP hatch boxes were hatching eggs. Streams like the South Fork of the Coquille, the North Fork of the Nehalem & the tiny Necanicum at Seaside had fish numbers that would knock your socks off. But ODFW in their wisdom managed to get legislation passed that made it unlawfull for those volunteers to spawn a fish, thus ODFW controlled the source of eggs for those hatch boxes & they don't provide them for those hatch boxes. Those fish produced from those hatch boxes are native fish and we did have lots of them. We need a rallying cry to reinstate those STEP volunteer programs. Can't those folks see that this is a no cost program to the State & the benefits it would provide through increased fish numbers economically & recreation-ally is almost beyond measure. What is the problem??? Do they contend these are hatchery fish??? What bull....


BillH wrote 7 months ago

I agree that we need more hatchery and hatchbox jumpstarted fish. I was involved in the Necanicum projects back in the '80's and we did have way many more fish. I'm not so worried about how many fish I can kill as I don't kill very many anymore regardless of how many I catch but what I want is more bites and hookups. The real thrill is feeling that you've hooked the fish and we're not hooking as many anymore. The wildfish only streams on the North Coast get very little pressure because there is very little expectancy of hooking a fish. It seems these streams have "maxed out" their potential carrying capacity and the results are not good. What we need is more and bigger broodstock programs so that catch and keep as well as catch and release anglers can feel more hookups.


capttuna wrote 6 months ago

Can anyone...anyone explain to me that if hatchery fish are so bad, and inferior, how the Great Lakes became such a success story from using eggs from run-of-the-mill several generation hatchery fish from Oregon (OFC's now defunct Fall Creek production silver hatchery [1966] for one).Fifty years and BILLIONS of $ into their economy later, pure hatchery salmon are now " wild & natural" in the spawning streams of the Great Lakes, and many of their hatcheries have closed because they're no longer needed. Google Great Lakes salmon for yourself to see. Enviro-conspiracy that reaches to the Governor's office anyone...anyone?


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