Monthly Archives: November 2016

Pete Heley Outdoors 11 / 39 / 2016

It’s mostly bad news. All crabbing in Oregon south of Tillamook Head remains closed. Bay clamming remains open, but most of the recent minus tides have been at night. Most of the rivers are blown out – and even if they weren’t, we are betwwen good fishing for salmon and good fishing for winter steelhead. Rough ocean conditions have kept bottomfish anglers in port and made jetty fishing downright dangerous. Rough surf conditions have kept surfperch anglers from enjoying what is normally good beach fishing.

We are on the verge of getting some colder weather and last year when the frigid weather hit, it stopped the good yellow perch fishing cold.

So in an effort to cheer myself up, I’m looking for good news – and the first good news is the realization that almost everything is almost certainly going to get better fairly soon. Bass fishing on the larger coastal lakes is productive by March. The coastal lakes usually start receiving trout plants by April and most of the area’s steelhead streams offer good fishing by mid-December. Always clear Eel Creek opens for steelhead fishing on January 1st.

But the most encouraging thing I found was an article by Ken Pope that covered an event that happened 3,000 miles away

I wish this encouraging article by Karl Pope was about the Pacific Ocean. With the crabbing and shellfish closures we could certainly use good news, but I found this article very encouraging anyway. Pope is an ex-executive director and former chairman of the Sierra Club. The article states that that the mercury levels in Atlantic bluefin tuna, because of tougher emmission rules on power plants and a declining use of coal, in only eight years dropped by 19 percent.

There are similar findings for bluefish, but tuna are much longer lived, so the results are extremely surprising — concentrations of mercury in even much older tuna fell at the same or faster rate as mercury concentrations in sea water, suggesting that fisheries contamination can be reversed far more quickly than anyone had dreamed.

Bluefin tuna are still not healthy for women of child-bearing age — and most of the tuna which had led over 10 percent of U.S. women having unhealthy mercury in their blood is not from the Atlantic ocean, which is healing, but from the Pacific, where coal consumption and mercury loading remains unabated.

Mercury contamination is a serious public health issue. In the U.S. alone, hundreds of thousands of newborns are at risk of lower IQ’s from the mercury burden they are borne with. Concentrations of mercury have been coming down as a result of broad public education and advisories on which fish to avoid. Overall, mercury emissions in the U.S. have also declined sharply as a result of EPA regulation.

Now the news from the North Atlantic suggests that globally the epidemic of mercury poisoning can be reversed far more rapidly than scientists had imagined. Requiring the clean up of coal power plant emissions in Asia, the globe’s largest remaining source of mercury pollution, will begin to allow Pacific ocean fisheries to recover as well. It’s important that countries considering the economics of building coal factor in the almost certain necessity to control for mercury — and when they do, they are likely to find that coal power is no longer economically competitive, so that not only will current plants reduce their emissions, but fewer new ones will make any kind of economic sense — which will be wonderful news for the communities where coal is mined and burned, as well as the climate.

More fundamentally, the North Atlantic story goes at the heart of the popular version of climate denialism — which is the initially plausible notion that the world is so large, and each human so small, that it’s just not likely that anything each of us does can really change the climate — or poison the oceans. And if we have, it’s so terrifying that we really don’t believe we can do anything about it. Isn’t it too late?

What the declining mercury level in Bluefin tuna shows is that we can — and have — had enormous impacts on the natural world, but that we can, and are, reversing those impacts. Nature, if we stop abusing her, can heal herself not in centuries or even decades, but mere years.”

Steelhead and salmon anglers need to pay close attentio to river flows. There are almost always a few streams that are open and in prime fishing condition.

Also good news for many is that the ODFW regulations for 2017 should start showing up in fishing tackle retailers this week.

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Some Good News Regarding Our Oceans.

I wish this encouraging article by Karl Pope was about the Pacific Ocean. With the crabbing and shellfish closures we could certainly use good news, but I found this article very encouraging anyway. Pope is an ex-executive director and former chairman of the Sierra Club. The article follows.

“I couldn’t, post-election, muster a plausibly big enough piece of good news to warrant a Thanksgiving blog — but then this morning one arrived. In an astonishingly short eight years, as a result of tougher emission rules on power plants and a declining use of coal, concentrations of mercury in Atlantic Bluefin tuna, the sushi sort, dropped by 19 percent. There are similar findings for bluefish, but tuna are much longer lived, so the results are extremely surprising — concentrations of mercury in even much older tuna fell at the same or faster rate as mercury concentrations in sea water, suggesting that fisheries contamination can be reversed far more quickly than anyone had dreamed.

Bluefin tuna are still not healthy for women of child-bearing age — and most of the tuna which had led over 10 percent of U.S. women having unhealthy mercury in their blood is not from the Atlantic ocean, which is healing, but from the Pacific, where coal consumption and mercury loading remains unabated.

Mercury contamination is a serious public health issue. In the U.S. alone, hundreds of thousands of newborns are at risk of lower IQ’s from the mercury burden they are borne with. Concentrations of mercury have been coming down as a result of broad public education and advisories on which fish to avoid. Overall, mercury emissions in the U.S. have also declined sharply as a result of EPA regulation.

Now the news from the North Atlantic suggests that globally the epidemic of mercury poisoning can be reversed far more rapidly than scientists had imagined. Requiring the clean up of coal power plant emissions in Asia, the globe’s largest remaining source of mercury pollution, will begin to allow Pacific ocean fisheries to recover as well. It’s important that countries considering the economics of building coal factor in the almost certain necessity to control for mercury — and when they do, they are likely to find that coal power is no longer economically competitive, so that not only will current plants reduce their emissions, but fewer new ones will make any kind of economic sense — which will be wonderful news for the communities where coal is mined and burned, as well as the climate.

More fundamentally, the North Atlantic story goes at the heart of the popular version of climate denialism — which is the initially plausible notion that the world is so large, and each human so small, that it’s just not likely that anything each of us does can really change the climate — or poison the oceans. And if we have, it’s so terrifying that we really don’t believe we can do anything about it. Isn’t it too late?

What the declining mercury level in Bluefin tuna shows is that we can — and have — had enormous impacts on the natural world, but that we can, and are, reversing those impacts. Nature, if we stop abusing her, can heal herself not in centuries or even decades, but mere years — even the length of the U.S. president’s term.

This is a good news story we need to tell everyone.”

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Topics For Dec. 2nd Fish And Wildlife Meeting.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet in Salem on Friday, Dec. 2.

The meeting begins at 8 a.m. at the ODFW headquarters building, 4034 Fairview Industrial Dr. SE in Salem. ODFW will live-stream portions of Friday’s meeting via Periscope on Twitter feed https://twitter.com/MyODFW.

The complete meeting agenda and supporting materials are online at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/commission/minutes/16/12_dec/index.asp.

The Commission will receive a Director’s Report containing an update on ongoing analyses related to Columbia River Fisheries Reform policy, and will consider adopting rules to extend the transition period for the policy by one month (through Jan. 31, 2017). The Commission had been scheduled to consider rulemaking on the policy at the December meeting, but requested the extension to allow for more staff analysis and additional review by the Commission. The Commission is now scheduled to consider rulemaking on the policy on Jan. 20, 2017.

The Commission also will consider proposed regulations for 2017 groundfish fisheries. Commercial and recreational groundfish fisheries are based on federal regulations and the Commission may adopt additional or more conservative regulations. For the recreational angler, the proposed regulations would retain the seven marine fish bag limit but would:

Create a sub-bag limit of six black rockfish.
Remove the sub-bag limit for canary rockfish.
Add China/quillback/copper rockfishes to the sub-bag limit with blue/Deacon rockfish and change the limit from three to four fish.
Remove the 10-inch minimum size for kelp greenling.
Require anglers to carry a rockfish descending device and use it when releasing most rockfish outside 30 fathoms.
Other items to be considered by the Commission:

Appointment a new public-at-large representative to the Restoration and Enhancement Board.
Appointment of a new chair and hunter representative to the Access and Habitat Board.
Approval of expenditures of $103,885 for six enhancement project approved by the R&E Board in September.
An informational briefing on recent changes to the state’s Sensitive Species List resulting from a recent staff review. The changes will be posted on the ODFW website in December 2016.
The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in the state. Public testimony before the Commission will be held first thing Friday morning, just after the adoption of temporary rules. Persons seeking to testify on issues not on the formal agenda may do so by making arrangements with the ODFW Director’s Office at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting. Contact the Director’s Office by calling 800-720-6339 or 503-947-604.

Reasonable accommodations will be provided as needed for individuals requesting assistive hearing devices, sign language interpreters or large-print meeting materials. Individuals needing these types of accommodations may call the ODFW Director’s Office at 800-720-6339 or 503-947-6044 at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting.

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WDFW News – Hotline To Report Dead, Sick Or Injured Swans Available.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has re-established a hotline to report dead, sick or injured swans in three northwest Washington counties as part of its ongoing effort to assess the impact of lead poisoning on trumpeter swans.

People can call (360) 466-4345, ext. 266, to report dead, sick or injured swans in Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties. Callers should be prepared to leave a message including their name and phone number, and the location and condition of the swans.

The hotline is available 24 hours a day through the end of March.

Some trumpeter swans in those three counties, and in southwestern British Columbia, die each winter from lead poisoning after ingesting lead shot in areas where they feed.

Lead shot has been banned for waterfowl hunting in Washington for more than 25 years. But swans can still pick up and ingest lead shot while foraging in shallow underwater areas in fields and roosts where lead shot is still present.

“People who observe dead, sick or injured swans are advised not to handle or collect the birds,” said Paul DeBruyn, WDFW wildlife biologist for Skagit and Whatcom counties.

“Instead, people should call the hotline,” he said. WDFW and Puget Sound Energy employees, as well as authorized volunteers will pick up the birds.

WDFW and other agencies and organizations have been working since 2001 to reduce swan mortalities and locate sources of toxic lead.

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Commercial Crab Fishery Delayed On Washington’s South Coast.

State shellfish managers have delayed the opening of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery on a portion of Washington’s southern coast to allow more time for tests to ensure that crabs are free of marine toxins.

The commercial fishery from the Columbia River north to Klipsan Beach on the Long Beach Peninsula was scheduled to open Dec. 1. This delay also includes the Willapa Bay commercial fishery.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) delayed the opening following talks today with fishery managers in Oregon and California. Commercial crabbing will be closed along the entire Oregon coast. Public health officials in California are still evaluating domoic acid levels along the state’s northern coast.

Recent tests indicate crab caught along Washington’s ocean coast are safe to eat, but shellfish managers decided to conduct additional testing before opening the commercial fishery. Recreational crabbing will remain open in all coastal waters. However, additional testing will be conducted. Crabbing is also open in several Puget Sound marine areas, where marine toxins in crab have not been an issue.

The department will review test results from the state Department of Health before setting an opening date on the south coast, said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for WDFW. Ayres said he hopes the test results allow for the season to open by mid-December.

“We’re taking extra precautions due to the high volume of crab typically caught within the first weeks of the commercial opening,” he said. “We want people to feel confident the crab they buy is safe to eat.” Ayres said commercial crabbers generally support WDFW’s decision.

Domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae, can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities. Cooking or freezing does not destroy the toxin in shellfish. Commercial crab fisheries along the West Coast were delayed last year due to a similar issue with domoic acid, which has also disrupted Washington’s razor clam fisheries over the last 18 months.

WDFW typically opens the area north of Klipsan Beach to state commercial crabbing later in the season in coordination with tribal co-managers. Crab now coming into the market from tribal fisheries currently open along the central and northern Washington coast have been tested and are safe, Ayres said.

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CDFW News – More of Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery to Open; Some Areas Will Remain Closed.

A roughly 120-mile portion of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery in northern California that was scheduled to open Dec. 1 will remain closed at the recommendation of state health agencies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today. But the fishery will open Dec. 1 north of Humboldt Bay to the Oregon state line and remains open from Point Reyes southward. The closed portions of the coast may open once testing by state agencies shows that the area is safe with regard to domoic acid levels.

On Dec. 1, commercial Dungeness crab season will open as scheduled from the north jetty at the Humboldt Bay entrance (40° 46.15’ N. lat.) north to the Oregon/California state line (District 6). The opener will be preceded by a 64 hour pre-soak period commencing at 8 a.m. on Nov. 28. The area between the north jetty at the Humboldt Bay entrance south to Point Reyes (38° 00’ N. lat.) in Marin County will remain closed until the CDFW Director receives a recommendation from the state health agencies that levels of domoic acid – a naturally occurring toxin – do not pose a public health risk. Last fall and winter, domoic acid along the West Coast interrupted Dungeness and rock crab fisheries from Santa Barbara to the Oregon state line.

Under an emergency rulemaking, the area between Point Reyes and the Mendocino/Sonoma county line has been closed since Nov. 15 and remains closed due to elevated domoic acid levels, which can sicken people who consume crab.

At the recommendation of the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham submitted to the Office of Administrative Law an emergency rulemaking to keep the commercial Dungeness crab fishery closed north of Point Reyes (38° 00’ N. lat.) and to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point (37° 11’ N. lat.). State and federal laws prohibit the commercial distribution of seafood products that contain domoic acid levels above the federal action level of 30 parts per million in the viscera. Because of this, on Nov. 8, OEHHA in consultation with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recommended to CDFW to close or delay the start of the commercial Dungeness crab season north of Point Reyes and close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point.

The recreational season for Dungeness crab opened on Nov. 5 and remains open with a warning from CDPH to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera of Dungeness crab caught north of Point Reyes.

Closure of the above-referenced commercial fisheries shall remain in effect until the Director of OEHHA, in consultation with the Director of CDPH, determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommends the fisheries be open, and the Director of CDFW provides notification to the commercial fisheries. Recreational fisheries will remain open under a warning to anglers not to eat the viscera of crab caught in the affected areas.

CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in crab along the coast to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened. CDPH, in conjunction with CDFW, has been actively testing crabs since early September and results from the most recent tests showed that select crabs from the closed areas had elevated levels of domoic acid in their viscera. Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes fish. It causes illness and sometimes death in a variety of birds and marine mammals that consume affected organisms. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and can in some cases be fatal.

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Medford Area Gets Trout Plants Prior To Free Thanksgiving Weekend.

Cole Rivers Hatchery is stocking one-pound trout in urban ponds to entice people to opt outside for Thanksgiving angling. This week, Reinhart Park Pond in Grants Pass is getting 500 rainbow trout while 1,500 will go into the Expo Pond in Central Point.

“These trout have been in our show ponds for a couple of years. They grow nicely thanks to public use of our pay feeders,” said assistant hatchery manager Craig Erwin. “We often release the fish this time of year as they outgrow their space at the hatchery, so the timing is perfect for the upcoming Free Fishing Weekend.”

A Free Fishing Weekend is set for Friday, November 25 and Saturday, November 26. Fishing, crabbing and clamming in Oregon is free – no licenses, tags or endorsements are needed. All other fishing regulations apply.

The 2015 Oregon Legislature set the November dates and December 31 and January 1 as additional Free Fishing Weekends as a way to introduce new anglers to the sport.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 11 / 23 / 2016

Oregon will have six free fishing, crabbing and clamming days in 2017. Those new fishing days will actually begin this year over Thanksgiving Weekend. The four additional free days were granted courtesy of the Oregon legislature in 2015. The additional days will be split up in two day increments for Thanksgiving Weekend(Friday and Saturday) and on December 31st and January 1st. So in a five week period this winter “outdoorsy” people in Oregon will have four new days to enjoy outdoor recreation without needing a fishing or shellfish license. or a tag

ODFW spokesperson Rick Hargrave stated “while the weather can be challenging at Thanksgiving, fall can be a great time to go trout fishing: many ponds and lakes have been stocked this fall and fish are feeding hungrily for the winter. In addition, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is waiving day use fees at state parks (Friday only), some of which include great fishing opportunities.

“We’re hoping anglers have so much fun and success at this free fishing weekend, they’ll want to participate in a second free fishing weekend scheduled for Dec. 31 and Jan. 1,” Hargrave said.

The new free fishing days probably will not result in many additional license sales, but is intended to introduce new anglers to fishing, clamming and crabbing. It should increase tourism from nearby states and allow visitors to sample Oregon’s wonderful outdoor recreational opportunities before buying a fishing or shellfish license. Although there were no additional trout plants slated for this year’s Thanksgiving Weekend event, there will almost certainly be in future years.

Crabbing was still surprisingly productive at Winchester Bay last week, but last week’s rainfall probably won’t help. If crabbing success at Winchester Bay falls off, Coos Bay and especially Charlston at the bottom end of Coos Bay should remain saltier and more productive.

Smaller largemouth bass up to two pounds were surprisingly active in Tahkenitch Lake last week and there are still fair numbers of bass anglers fishing Tenmile Lakes each day. Barring a major cold snap, both largemouth bass and yellow perch should continue biting in local lakes.

Ocean crabbing becomes legal again on Dec. 1st and the new fishing and hunting regulations for 2017 should be available at license venders around that date.

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Commercial Crab Season Opening Delayed.

The traditional Dec. 1 opening of the commercial Dungeness crab season along the entire Oregon coast will be delayed due to concerns about domoic acid levels in some areas. During recent testing, domoic acid in crab viscera from the Garibaldi area was above the alert level that normally triggers action. In addition, the overall trend indicates domoic acid in other areas may be increasing as well.

Based on these results and consultations with the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), the Oregon commercial Dungeness crab industry, and Washington and California departments of Fish and Wildlife, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is exercising an abundance of caution and delaying the ocean commercial Dungeness crab season along the entire Oregon coast.

“Oregon’s commercial crab industry and the department place a high priority on making sure that seafood consumers can be confident that they are buying a safe, high‐quality and sustainable product when they purchase Oregon Dungeness crab,” said Caren Braby, ODFW Marine Resource Program Manager.

ODFW will continue to work closely with ODA and the Oregon commercial Dungeness crab industry to test crab along the coast to ensure an opening of the commercial crab season on safe and high quality crab. In close coordination with ODA and the Oregon commercial Dungeness crab industry, ODFW plans to evaluate options for opening the commercial season once additional domoic acid test results are available.

Despite the delay, crab and shellfish products sold in retail markets and restaurants remain safe for consumers.

All recreational and commercial harvest of Dungeness and red rock crab in Oregon’s bays is currently closed south of Tillamook Head (just south of Seaside) due to elevated levels of domoic acid. The opening of recreational crab harvest in the ocean and bays will be decided pending additional domoic acid testing.

Domoic acid or amnesic shellfish toxin can cause minor to severe illness and even death. Severe poisoning can result in dizziness, headaches, vomiting and diarrhea. More severe cases can result in memory loss and death. Shellfish toxins are produced by algae and originate in the ocean. Toxins cannot be removed by cooking, freezing or any other treatment. For more information on toxin closures, call ODA’s shellfish safety information hotline at (800) 448‐2474 or visit the ODA shellfish closures web page at:
http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/programs/FoodSafety/Shellfish/Pages/ShellfishClosures.aspx.

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WDFW News – Twin Harbors Will Open For 3 Days Of Razor Clam Digging Starting Saturday.

Razor clam diggers can return to Twin Harbors beach for a three-day opening that begins Nov. 26, state shellfish managers said today.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the opening on evening tides at Twin Harbors after marine toxin tests confirmed clams from the beach are safe to eat. No digging will be allowed before noon.

Diggers had plenty of success last weekend at Twin Harbors, said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager.

“Not only were most folks digging their limits but they were harvesting some good-sized clams,” Ayres said.

The upcoming dig is approved at Twin Harbors on the following dates and low tides:

Nov. 26, Saturday, 4:47 p.m.; 0.5 feet; Twin Harbors
Nov. 27, Sunday, 5:24 p.m.; 0.2 feet; Twin Harbors
Nov. 28, Monday, 5:59 p.m.; -0.1 feet; Twin Harbors
Under state law, diggers can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2016-17 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.

Long Beach remains closed to razor clam digging due to elevated levels of domoic acid. A natural toxin produced by certain types of algae, domoic acid can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities.

More information about razor clams and domoic acid can be found on WDFW’s webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/

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