July 11, 2018 — The mission of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is to protect and enhance Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations. This includes direct responsibility for regulating harvest of fish, protection of fish, enhancement of fish populations through habitat improvement and the rearing and release of fish into public waters.
To accomplish that goal, ODFW personnel are currently gathering numerical data for the 2018 edition of the Ocean Recreational Boat Survey (ORBS) at locations in the area.
ORBS is part of the Ocean Sampling Project, which is made up of two sub-units: The Commercial Troll Salmon Project (CTSP) and ORBS.
ORBS collects the information needed to manage Oregon’s ocean sport fisheries, while the CTSP gathers needed information for management of the ocean commercial troll salmon seasons.
One of the primary collection points in the Florence area is the dock at the Port of Siuslaw.
ODFW employees are now engaged in the process of manually counting boats and keeping track in a log of the number of each species taken by local fisherman.
Eric Schindler, the project leader for the Ocean Sampling Project, said, “We are tasked with making estimates of the recreational fishing effort, ocean angler trips, the harvest of ocean-caught fish by anglers and other information, such as lengths, weights, recovery of tags and numbers of released fish, that are needed for management of the ocean recreational fisheries.”
The information gathered at the port will be included in statewide totals to help in determining the number of recreational anglers that are fishing in this area, and the approximate number of fish that are being caught.
“The basics of what we do are to count the boats out, get a sample of the returning trips to get an average of the number of anglers and fish per boat and then apply those averages to the boats that went out,” Schindler said.
The reports created with ORBS data will guide the ODFW in determining the length of the season for a particular fish.
Calculations and educated estimates gathered from Florence will be added to data from other coastal recreational fishing areas, including major ports at the Columbia River, Tillamook Bay, Pacific City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Winchester Bay, Charleston and Brookings. Smaller ports, where testing is not done as often, include Bandon, Gold Beach and the Port of Siuslaw.
The ORBS totals will be used to determine critical catch numbers for the remainder of this season; more simply, the data will be used to decide how many more fish can be caught and of what type they will be.
The use of onsite, manual counting of anglers and catches, is becoming less common as ODFW has started using mounted video cameras at other ports. The use of video cameras in Newport and Astoria, which are much busier than Florence, has produced accurate results and may take the place of human data gathering at some point in the future.
“At Florence for the effort estimation, we use a trailer plus moorage slip count,” Schindler said. “This method scales the ocean effort based on the proportion of trips returning to the basin that went to the ocean versus just the estuary,” Schindler said. “At the five most significant ports with recognized good non-salmon fishing activity, ORBS begins sampling in early March and continues through October. The remaining sampled ports typically have start up dates for sampling in the first week of May or the third week of June, with an end to sampling in late September.”
Schindler added that while the primary purpose of ORBS is data collection, employees of the ODFW have a responsibility to identify and cite individuals that are in violation of ODFW regulations.
“Our crew is not out there for enforcement related activities, and do not go looking for violations … however, if they encounter a violation, they are required to address the violation,” he said. “That often entails recording information from the individual’s license and tag and passing the information on to the Game Enforcement Division of Oregon State Police for further action.”