NO-FISHING ZONES CLOSER TO A REALITY

September 26, 2000 11:00 pm

A plan to put marine reserves, or no-fishing zones, off the Pacific coast moved forward at the Pacific Fisheries Management Council meeting last week in Sacramento.

Brookings fishermen Ralph Brown, a member of the council, told members of the Port of Brookings Harbor Fisheries Committee Thursday that the council adopted the phase one report and is moving ahead to the planning phase.

Depending on what the reserves are used for, they could run anywhere from small areas to 70 percent of the Pacific Coast, Brown said. The council will hold a planning implementation meeting in October.

Its hard to say when phase two will start, Brown said, I think it is down on the list of priorities.

The port nominated Jim Welter, its salmon advisor, to the new Federal Advisory Committee on Marine Protected Areas.

Welter, who was also at the Sacramento meeting, said the councils strategic plan needs observers on trawl boats and accurate stock assessments of fish.

He said with that and a 50 percent reduction in the trawl fleet marine reserves wouldnt be needed. Port Commissioner Ed Gray asked Brown if the council had made any provision so the bycatch of species that fishermen werent targeting could be brought into port and given to needy people.

Brown said there has been some movement on the issue because of less mistrust between fish managers and the fishing industry.

I think that issue will happen before marine reserves, said Brown.

The workload for the councils staff only allows them about one project annually beyond what is required of the council by federal law, he said.

Sea Grant Agent Jim Waldvogel said there is support nationwide for an executive order for marine protected areas.

Brown said the people who want to establish marine reserves are pushing hard and wont relax. They probably wouldnt be satisfied with an executive order and may go to Congress, he said.

Welter said the council had been looking at reserves as a way to rebuild fish stocks, but is under pressure to look at reserves as more of a museum concept.

Brown said reserves have been presented to the council as, Heres the solution, now figure out what problems they will solve.

Before reserves can be implemented, overlapping jurisdictions will need to be worked out, Brown said.