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ODFW to blame for salmon decline

by Jack Ford, Myrtle Point 5/21/08, Coos Bay World

Did you salmon fishermen catch lots of salmon last fall? This was a bad year blamed on what no one knows. Itís probably a preview of things to come in the Coos River system.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife seems to have won the battle that was fought every year as to how many fish could be planted. The Shed hatching facility was closed as a result of a property dispute. The ODFW should have resolved the problem, but chose not to do so. The Shed raised approximately 16 million smolt in the 16 years it ran. The cost for rearing these smolt was $40,500. Maybe because the Shed was giving them a black eye, the ODFW made no effort to keep it open.

Larry Cruthers and the other volunteer people at the Shed should get medals for what they accomplished. Larry donated three months a year, night and day, with these smolts. ODFW doled out very few smolts for release at this facility capable of at least 1 million a year to as little as zero once, but most of the years saw between 700,000 and 1 million. It was a constant battle for the smolt.

Now they are doing the same thing at the Noble Creek hatchery at Greenacres, starting at 1 million in 1996 trickling down to 640,00 this past year. You could have at least 1 million smolt every year. Now ODFW wants 200,000 of these smolts ventral fin clipped. This is proven to equate a 20-percent morality rate. These people do not seem to care how many of the fish are killed.

Some of you fishermen should go to the Noble Creek facility and talk to Clyde Haga and the volunteers who work there. It is quite an eye opener. The ODFW could have very cheap fish production with the hatchbox project, but they refuse to do this. They will build a $1.2 million hatchery at Morgan Creek much to the displeasure of the adjacent property owners, spend lots of your money and then want an increase to your fishing fees.

When you buy your steelhead salmon harvest card you are required to pay for halibut and sturgeon whether you fish for them or not. This is extortion and I cannot figure out how it can be legal even by this organization. Itís strictly against the law to ransom people like that. No one else could get away with that fee.

As the current mess develops with lack of salmon, maybe the hatch box program should be pursued again. Maybe we could raise enough salmon to at least feed the sea lions. Itís a shame David Schmidt had to disrupt the hatchery abilities of the Shed facility.

Thank you Larry for your time and devotion and thank everyone else who donated time at the Shed. Hooray for Larry Cruthers and the other volunteers. Boo to the ODFW for their participation.
Jack Ford, Myrtle Point
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