In a bold move intended to protect important native salmon and steelhead populations in the state, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission recently adopted new angling rules that take effect next January.
At the recommendation of staff of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, these new regulations remove the limits on the harvest of bass, walleye and other warm water game fish in the Columbia River as well as in the Umpqua and John Day Rivers. The purpose of the new regulations is to protect economically and recreationally important native fish in Oregon.
“We applaud ODFW, the Commission and Director Melcher for taking proactive steps to address a top threat to native salmon and steelhead in the Columbia system, and we are hopeful that these new regulations will eventually be expanded to other streams like the Willamette River,” Said Bill Bakke, Native Fish Society’s Founder and Director of Science and Conservation.
According to leading scientific research, removing bag limits on introduced exotic fish will encourage the harvest of these fish and help to reduce their well-documented adverse effects on native anadromous and resident fish like salmon, steelhead and rainbow trout. In addition, the Commission also removed bag limits on introduced brown and brook trout in many areas of the state.
Broad support for this decision came from a number of fishing and conservation organizations, including Trout Unlimited, Coastal Conservation Association, Wild Salmon Center, Native Fish Society and the Oregon Conservation Network (a coalition of several dozen conservation groups in Oregon). Vocal opposition came from the warm water angling community over concerns that new regulations would negatively impact bass and panfish fishing opportunities.
About Native Fish Society
With a network of 80+ locally-based, volunteer River Stewards across the Pacific Northwest, the Native Fish Society advocates for the conservation and recovery of wild, native fish species and empowers communities to become effective voices for their homewaters. You can learn more about our efforts and provide support in honor of our 20-year anniversary at www.nativefishsociety.org
In 2008 the Independent Scientific Advisory Board recommended that the “fish and wildlife agencies in the Columbia River Basin elevate the issue of non-native species effects to a priority equivalent to that of habitat loss and degradation, climate change, and human population growth and development.”
In a peer reviewed scientific study by Sanderson et al. 2009 said, “The impact of non-indigenous species on salmon is equal to or greater than commonly addressed impacts (habitat, harvest, hatcheries and hydro-system) and managing non-indigenous species impacts maybe imperative for the recovery of these fish.”
In a study by Fritts and Pearsons in 2006, they concluded that: “At locations in the Columbia River, smallmouth bass and walleye consumed between 18,000 to 2,000,000 and170,000 to 300,000 juvenile salmonids per year, respectively. In addition, smallmouth bass have changed the size-based predation dynamics in some areas where they have largely displaced the native predator, northern pikeminnow. Unlike the case with pikeminnow, in which larger individuals have higher predation rates, smallmouth bass become piscivorous by two years of age.”