EDITOR’S NOTE: On Friday, April 3rd at the Tillamook County Board of Commissioners leadership team meeting, Commissioner Bill Baertlein expressed his concern about social media reports that Washington state commercial clammers were planning to overwhelm/overrun Tillamook County’s closed beach/bay accesses. Baertlein sent a letter to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and others advocated on behalf of the county calling for closures of clamming and crabbing during the pandemic. See image below for Commissioner Baertlein’s letter to ODFW. This press release was issued by ODFW Friday evening, April 3rd.
SALEM, Ore.— Most fishing and hunting seasons remain open in Oregon, but participants should continue to comply with social distancing and other guidelines set forth in the Governor’s Stay Home, Save Lives order.
While ODFW does not enforce regulations such as the Governor’s Order, a significant number of ODFW staff who work in the field are also monitoring recreational use at many fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing locations in the course of their regular duties. US Coast Guard, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon State Police, Oregon State Sherriffs’ Association and other entities are also observing the actions by Oregonians and potentially visitors to Oregon. Adherence to the order while recreating can help prevent more closures.
With good weather and low tides coming up later in spring/summer, ODFW is also stepping up monitoring of clamming on the coast. Staff will be out this weekend to monitor recreational and commercial harvest of razor clams along beaches in Clatsop County to determine the level of harvest and behavior of clammers (e.g. social distancing). Information gathered from this weekend’s surveys will help inform decisions about future actions regarding harvest seasons during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ll continue to monitor fisheries and do everything in our power to be sure it isn’t contributing to the transmission of the virus,” said Director Curt Melcher. “If we do see anglers, clammers or others are not following the guidelines and endangering themselves and others, then we may need to modify fishing seasons.”
ODFW has been working with the Governor’s office and other state agencies to address crowding and health concerns related to COVID-19, and encouraging adherence to the Stay Home, Save Lives order. The order does allow for outdoor recreation as long as the guidelines for social distancing are followed.
Just as hiking and biking are allowed, getting outdoors and fishing is a healthy way to get fresh air and exercise during this difficult time provided the guidelines are followed. Governor Brown’s Stay Home, Save Lives Executive Order requires that everyone:
-Practice social distancing and stay six feet away from anyone who doesn’t live in your immediate household, including when outdoors.
-Stay close to home rather than travelling far. The Governor’s Executive Order says hiking and outdoor activities are OK, but to limit travel.
-Stay home if you are sick.
-Wash hands frequently.
-Carry needed supplies with you to minimize non-essential stops—including buying your license online instead of making a trip to a license sale agent.
While seasons are open, access to many areas are closed. State Parks are closed, national forests have closed established recreation areas and some counties and cities have closed access to boat ramps or other locations. Please check the access restrictions where you are headed before going.
Salmon and steelhead fishing in the Columbia River is also closed, as this fishery is managed concurrently with the state of Washington where all hunting and fishing is closed. Walleye and other fisheries remain open on the Columbia River.
“We thank anglers, hunters, clammers and all people recreating outdoors for following the guidelines,” said Melcher. “The outdoors provides an important outlet during this difficult time. We want to keep these seasons open provided they don’t contribute to the spread of COVID-19.”
From Tillamook County Commissioner Bill Baertlein: “I have attached my letter (see below) to ODFW requesting that they close clam season for recreational and commercial clamming. The other two commissioners are also sending letters. I have forwarded this letter to Clatsop and Lincoln Counties to get their support. Our Coastal Caucus is also working on a way to protect our citizens. It seems like we are playing wac-a-mole. Every time we get something under control another mole pops up.”