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Dungeness Crab Implementation Plan Discussed

The Fish and Wildlife Commission meets Friday, Oct. 15 online beginning at 8 a.m.The Commission is expected to adopt implementing regulations for the Oregon Dungeness Crab Fishery Management Plan (FMP), the first Dungeness crab fishery management plan to be developed on the west coast. See the meeting agenda and view a livestream of the meeting at https://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/commission/minutes/21/10_Oct/index.asp

Public comments can also be emailed to odfw.commission@odfw.oregon.gov.

The Oregon Dungeness Crab Fishery Management Plan (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. (The scope of this FMP is different than the Conservation Plan considered by the Commission in September 2021, which is limited to the ocean commercial sector and mitigation of entanglements of protected marine species.)

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 implementing regulations proposed 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 will also be asked to amend OARs for the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Advisory Committee (OCRF) to be consistent with HB 2171 passed by the Oregon State Legislature, including making the program permanent. 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 and 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 will also be asked to review and approve several OCRF recommendations including staff support for the OCRF program and the Sea Otter Restoration Community Engagement project, a proposal to engage with communities on the Oregon Coast (particularly the southern coast) with the goal of building support for restoring sea otters to the Oregon coast. The Commission will also hear about 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 the general public. Most of the actions in the draft Plan have broad support, though there is not agreement around a few of them including the harvest of wild steelhead. A final Plan is scheduled to be adopted at the Dec. 17 Commission meeting.

During the Director's report, the Commission will also be briefed on several topics including drought impacts to fish and wildlife and a dedication of a meeting room at Oregon Hatchery Research Center to longtime director Dr. David Noakes who passed away last year. They will also hear from the Elahka Alliance about sea otter restoration. Commissioners will also hold a public forum for people to comment on topics not on the agenda early Friday morning following the Director's Report. To participate in public forum, call the ODFW Director's office at (503) 947-6044 by Wednesday, Oct. 13 at 8 a.m. (48 hours prior to the meeting).

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