Marine Board looks to smooth Chetco conflicts

The Oregon State Marine Board is headed to Brookings later this month to help smooth a rift between boat and bank anglers fishing for steelhead on the Chetco River.

The Marine Board will convene an open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, at Southwestern Oregon Community College's Curry Campus, 96082 Lone Ranch Parkway.

Randy Henry, the Marine Board's Boating Safety Program manager, will be in town to talk with individuals and small groups about future management of anglers on the Chetco, where hundreds of anglers can be found during key winter steelhead fishing periods.

Bank anglers and boaters have clashed there over boaters who side-drift bait for winter steelhead through riffles, then use outboard motors to travel back upstream and fish the stretch again, often multiple times.

Bank anglers argued to the Marine Board that it was a disruption to their mode of fishing and sought a motor ban on the lower stretch of the Chetco below the U.S. Forest Service boundary where motors are banned.

The Marine Board rejected the petition last fall, but asked Henry to come to town provide more observation, oversight and seek out more generally accepted solutions to crowding and conflicts, Henry says.

New crab closure along south-central coast

A new spike in domoic acid levels off the south-central Oregon Coast has triggered an immediate closure of the recreational crab fishery in the ocean and estuaries.

Wednesday's closure covers the area from Coos Bay's north jetty north to Heceta Head north of Florence, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The ban includes key winter crabbing areas such as Winchester Bay and the mouth of the Siuslaw River but does not include Coos Bay itself, the agency said.

Unsafe levels of domoic acid were found in the viscera of Dungeness crabs collected late last month offshore near Winchester Bay, triggering a biotoxin closure.

Similar closures have dogged recreational crabbers the past two years.

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. ODA will continue to test for toxins in the coming weeks. Removal of the advisory requires two consecutive tests in the safe range.

The remaining areas of the coastline south of Coos Bay and north of Heceta Head will remain open for recreational crabbing, according to ODFW.

Separate decisions regarding the commercial fishery for the affected area will be made soon.

It is recommended that crabs always be eviscerated prior to cooking. Evisceration includes removing and discarding the internal organs and gills. Despite the closure, crab and shellfish products sold in retail markets and restaurants remain safe for consumers, according to ODFW.

Marine Board to explain new rules in Roseburg

The Oregon State Marine Board’s Randy Henry and MariAnn McKenzie will give a presentation to the North West Rafters Association at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, about HB 2320, which would require permit fees for all nonmotorized watercraft, including canoes, kayaks and rafts, according to a press release from the rafting association.

The meeting will be held at Round Table Pizza, 2040 NW Stewart Parkway, Roseburg.

The Marine Board proposal would create a fee-based, nonmotorized boating program to pay for nonmotorized boating access, increased law enforcement and voluntary education.

Basic information and links to full text of the legislation are available on the NWRA website at http://nwwhitewaterrafting.org/.

— Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

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