We won the first step!
The three year effort to protect our unmanaged forage fish within federal waters from 3 miles to 200 miles beyond the shores of Washington, Oregon, and California culminated at the Pacific Fisheries Management Council’s March meeting when it directed NOAA Fisheries to add the unmanaged forage fish species to all the Fisheries Management Plans as an ecosystem component species. These species cannot be targeted for commercial harvest until the agency has determined harvest limits considering impacts on predator species.
Now, on to the next step.
We are continuing this effort with the state of Oregon. While Oregon showed great leadership in the PFMC toward getting the forage fish protections done, California and Washington worked on getting similar protections for their territorial waters. Oregon is taking a bit longer, but perhaps
is working smarter. Oregon can now work to improve on the PFMC achievement while creating rules that are coordinated with the federal jurisdiction just outside the state’s three mile territorial limit.
We have learned that getting it done will require continuous effort to maintain its priority and ensuring we get everything we expect it to achieve. You can help the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife make protecting unmanaged forage fish a priority by “signing” the following letter. To have your name added to this sign-on letter simply send an email to Northwest Steelheaders Forage Fish with just your name and home town in the body of the email.
Michael Finley, Chair
Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife Commission
4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE
Salem, Oregon, 97302
Dear Chair Finley and Commission Members:
As anglers, we greatly appreciate Oregon’s leadership within the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) establishing protections for currently unmanaged forage fish. These forage species contribute significantly to the Pacific Ocean’s prey base – and support our treasured salmon, steelhead, and other sport fisheries.
Now it is time to focus on Oregon’s territorial waters which contain critical habitats for many forage species. California and Washington have already taken significant action in their territorial waters. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is preparing to do the same and has the opportunity to do it better by building on the solution provided by the PFMC.
We encourage the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to make completing unmanaged forage fish protections under the Marine Fisheries Management Plan Framework a priority.
Thank you for your ongoing commitment to a vibrant and productive Pacific Ocean.