The Rogue-South Coast Multi-Species Conservation and Management Plan (RSP) dictates the management direction for Oregon coastal streams from the Elk River to the California border and covers legendary steelhead waters such as the Sixes, Coquille and Rogue Rivers. The plan applies to several species of salmonids in these waters, including winter steelhead, summer steelhead, coho salmon and coastal cutthroat trout. As proposed, the plan would continue to allow angler harvest of wild steelhead in the southern coastal region – the last place in the contiguous United States where wild steelhead harvest by sport anglers is still allowed.
Wild Steelheaders United and Trout Unlimited strongly endorse Alternative A: Catch and Release of the plan over the current ODFW draft because of the lack of data available to support continued harvest of wild steelhead. To manage our declining wild steelhead fisheries sustainably, more data is needed, including data on run size and escapement, population-specific harvest rates, and angling impacts to the most sensitive fish stocks, such as summer steelhead. ODFW does not currently have this data and the RSP provides no capacity or direction to generate, collect and review it.
Please ask ODFW Commissioners to direct the department to bring back a plan that includes Alternative Fishing Regulations with a conservative, precautionary approach and statistically robust monitoring of adult abundance, juvenile productivity, spatial structure and diversity of individual steelhead populations to track responses to management actions and climate change.