The folks trying to create a new run of salmon into Yaquina Bay in the Spring were back pitching their idea to the Newport City Council Monday evening, which included a plea for five thousand dollars, to help set up raising pens in the bay.
“Salmon for Oregon” Executive Director James Wright along with some local supporters, reported to the council that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is a couple of decisions away from approving an ambitious plan to create a new local fishery along the Oregon Coast: Spring Chinook, which he predicted will bring thousands of visitors to the Newport area, means tourism dollars coming in during one of the tourism shoulder seasons.
Wright predicted ODFW approval in the very near future. Soon after, Salmon for Oregon will formally launch their project which entails transporting small juvenile Chinook from a hatchery and placing them in safely-sealed net-pens slung over a dock somewhere in Yaquina Bay. And Wright promises the raising pens be sea lion proof. Within three months those smolts will have grown large enough for many of them to survive the rigors of heading out under the Yaquina Bay Bridge, out the jaws and into their new home for three years – the ocean. There the fish will grow to adulthood and then return to Yaquina Bay to spawn.
But when they return in a few years, the now adult Chinook won’t be able to figure out where home is, so they’ll just keep circling the bay and getting caught by sportsmen and perhaps a few commercial fishermen. The event will bring thousands of additional anglers and their families to Yaquina Bay and to the seas just off the coast. Wright says when the word gets out that there is a very healthy new run of salmon to go after, it will set off a “fish rush” along the central coast.
Wright said Salmon For Oregon hopes to begin operations this Spring with their first return of adult fishable Chinook salmon in the Spring of 2017. U DA MAN sports fishing group spokesman Tom Simpson, a former Newport Police Sergeant and an avid fisherman, predicted that the Salmon for Oregon project will do great things for Newport, especially its economy. He predicted fishers from all over the state will journey to Newport to partake in the Spring Chinook fishery.
But in the meantime, Wright asked the council for some financial support to help pay for some of Salmon for Oregon’s set up expenses. He said the county commissioners threw a tidy sum in the pot. Moments later the council voted unanimously to do the same – $5,000.
Wright said they hope to be up and running with their program a little later in the year. Again first Chinook spring salmon run might show up in 2017.