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ALL IN A DAY'S WORK: PORT TRIO COUNTS FISH, BOATS

By Kurt Madar

Pilot staff writer

They wear a badge, have gadgets and are definitely official, but relax – they're your friendly port fish counters.

Laura Green Jane and Erich Chambers spend their days on the Port of Brookings Harbor docks counting boats and fish.

"Its definitely a social job," Jane said. "You need to know how to talk to people."

The two Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife employees do not enforce game laws and catch limits.

"We're mainly here to collect biological data such as fish size and species," Jane said. "All the data we collect is for management of the fisheries."

For certain species of fish Jane and Chambers have to collect a little more data than just size and species.

"For instance, we scan for code wire tags, which is data imbedded in the snout of 10 percent of hatchery fish," Jane said.

Code wire tags contain the location and time of the fish's release into the wild.

"Sometimes, with the permission of the angler, we take the snout and scale samples," Jane said.

Scale samples are a way of measuring the growth rate of the fish.

"Scale samples are like counting the growth rings on a tree," Jane said.

Jane has a degree in ecology from Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif.

Chambers, a student at Portland State University, is working for the summer.

While both are relatively new, Jane has seniority and she's been here since March. Both are well liked by the regulars down on the docks.

"She's the hardest working gal down here," Brookings fisherman Jack Rowe said. "She's on it."

Although not enforcers of the law, Chambers and Jane are not to be trifled with.

"When we have a fish violation we call the Oregon State Police," Jane said. "We don't write the tickets, but we collect the evidence."

Oregon State Patrol Officer Clifford Barden is usually the one that they call.

"If they call us, it's the type of violation that's not going to be a warning," Barden said. "If it's an illegal fish that is caught, they can expect a ticket. We come and take the fish after its been confiscated and give out the citations."

According to Chambers, the most often violations are over the bag limit, fish that are too small and catching wild or prohibited fish.

"For the most part the fisherman we see in the port are on top of it," Chambers said. "They are usually pretty good about knowing wild fish when they see them and throwing them back."

The fish that are currently prohibited to catch are: canary rock fish, yellow eye rock fish and Chinook salmon.

The bag limit for other rock fish is five total fish per day. The bag limit for ling cod is two per day.

The coho limit is two hatchery fish and they have to be over 16 inches.

For more information about catch size and limits visit the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Web site www.dfw.state.or.us.

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