Fish Finally Complete the Circle of (Migratory) Life in Oregon

 Shared from NOAA Habitat Conservation

A while back, we told you about the re-opening of Oregon’s Deschutes River to migrating fish for the first time in 40 years. NOAA was a partner in the engineering of a unique 273-foot underwater tower and fish collection station at the Round Butte Dam, which allows fish to migrate to and from the Pacific Ocean.

Now that they are able to get past all three dams in central Oregon, the numbers of Chinook salmon, steelhead, and kokanee (landlocked sockeye salmon) taking advantage of the new system is growing.


March 5-11 Pacific Council and Advisory Committees to Meet

The Pacific Council and its advisory entities will hold public meetings.

The Pacific Council and its advisory entities will meet March 5-11, 2013. The Pacific Council meeting will begin on Thursday, March 7, 2013, at 8 a.m., reconvening each day through Monday, March 11, 2013. All meetings are open to the public, except a closed session will be held at the end of the scheduled agenda on Saturday, March 9 to address litigation and personnel matters. The Pacific Council will meet as late as necessary each day to complete its scheduled business. In addition to the formal, numbered agenda items, there will be an informal Council informational session on the morning of Thursday, March 7 to help with understanding various issues and objectives associated with developing a new management process for groundfish fisheries under Amendment 24.

Meetings of the Pacific Council and its advisory entities will be held at the Hotel Murano, 1320 Broadway Plaza, Tacoma, Washington 98402; telephone: 888-862-3255. The Pacific Council address is Pacific Fishery Management Council, 7700 NE Ambassador Place, Suite 101, Portland, Oregon 97220.

2013 Ocean Salmon

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Pacific Council) has announced its annual preseason management process for the 2013 ocean salmon fisheries. This notice informs the public of opportunities to provide comments on the 2013 ocean salmon management measures which will publish as a final rule and be effective May 1, 2013.

Written comments on the salmon management alternatives adopted by the Pacific Council at its March 2013 meeting, and described in Preseason Report II, submitted electronically or in hard copy by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time, March 31, 2013 will be considered in the Pacific Council's final recommendation for the 2013 management measures.

USCG New Rules to Protect San Francisco Bay

Hoping to reduce the risk of major oil spills in San Francisco Bay, the Coast Guard and top shipping officials Thursday passed new rules to restrict cargo ships, oil tankers and other large vessels from sailing near the Bay Bridge in heavy fog.

The action comes five weeks after an empty oil tanker, the Overseas Reymar, sideswiped a tower of the Bay Bridge near Yerba Buena Island. The Jan. 7 accident, which caused an estimated $3 million in damage to the bridge, occurred five years after the Cosco Busan, a 901-foot cargo ship, hit an adjacent tower. That accident spilled 53,000 gallons of bunker fuel into the bay, killing more than 6,000 birds and oiling 69 miles of beaches and shoreline.

Final Rule Amendment 17 to the Salmon Fishery Management Plan

NMFS issues a final rule under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) to implement Amendment 17 to the Pacific Coast Salmon Fishery Management Plan for Commercial and Recreational Salmon Fisheries off the Coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California (Salmon FMP). NMFS approved Amendment 17 on February 5, 2013. Among other things, Amendment 17 revises the maximum fishing mortality threshold (MFMT) for Quillayute fall coho, revises the FMP to correct typographical errors, updates reporting measures to reflect new technology, and updates or removes other obsolete or unnecessary language. This rule implements certain portions of Amendment 17; specifically, it discontinues the public comment period for final management measures that are published in the Federal Register and updates mechanisms for obtaining information on management of the fishery. NMFS also makes minor updates to regulations unrelated to Amendment 17.

This final rule is effective March 18, 2013.

Pacific Halibut Fisheries; Catch Sharing Plan

 These measures include the sport fishery allocations 

NMFS proposes to approve and implement changes to the Pacific Halibut Catch Sharing Plan (Plan) for the International Pacific Halibut Commission's (IPHC or Commission) regulatory area off Washington, Oregon, and California (Area 2A). NMFS proposes to implement the portions of the Plan and management measures that are not implemented through the IPHC. These measures include the sport fishery allocations and management measures for Area 2A. These actions are intended to enhance the conservation of Pacific halibut, provide greater angler opportunity where available, and protect overfished groundfish species from being incidentally caught in the halibut fisheries.

Comments on the proposed changes to the Plan and on the proposed domestic Area 2A halibut management measures must be received on February 26, 2013.


NOAA proceeds with steelhead reintroduction in the Deschutes River Basin

The Deschutes River Basin once supported thriving steelhead runs. In 1964, the completion of Round Butte Dam—the most upstream dam of the three-dam Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric Project—prevented significant numbers of juvenile steelhead from migrating to the Pacific Ocean. With dwindling adult returns, fish passage was abandoned by 1968. This, among other challenges, prevented fish from accessing their historical spawning and rearing habitat and contributed to the decline of Middle Columbia River steelhead. In 1999, NOAA Fisheries listed Middle Columbia River steelhead as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Designation of Critical Habitat for Lower Columbia River Coho Salmon and Puget Sound Steelhead; Proposed Rule

We, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), propose to designate critical habitat for lower Columbia River coho salmon and Puget Sound steelhead, currently listed as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The specific areas proposed for designation for lower Columbia River coho include approximately 2,288 mi (3,681 km) of freshwater and estuarine habitat in Oregon and Washington. The specific areas proposed for designation for Puget Sound steelhead include approximately 1,880 mi of freshwater and estuarine habitat in Puget Sound, Washington. We propose to exclude a number of particular areas from designation because the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion and exclusion will not result in the extinction of the species.

We are soliciting comments from the public on all aspects of the proposal, including information on the economic, national security, and other relevant impacts of the proposed designations, as well as the benefits to the species from designations. We will consider additional information received prior to making final designations.

Comments on this proposed rule must be received by 5 p.m. P.S.T. on April 15, 2013. Requests for public hearings must be made in writing by February 28, 2013.


Coastal Pelagics Meeting

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Pacific Council) will convene a conference call of its Coastal Pelagic Species Management Team (CPSMT) and Coastal Pelagic Species Advisory Subpanel (CPSAS). A listening station will be available at the Pacific Council offices for interested members of the public, and there may be opportunities to
attend the meeting remotely.

The conference call will be held Tuesday, January 29, 2013, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Boundary Expansion of Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries; Correction to the Dates of the Scoping Meetings Scoping Meetings

On December 21, 2012, NOAA published a notice of intent in the Federal Register to revise the boundaries of Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones national marine sanctuaries. This document makes a correction to the dates of the scoping meetings. The end of the scoping period remains March 1, 2013.

NOAA will accept public comments on the notice of intent published at 77 FR 75601 (December 21, 2012) through March 1, 2013.