The planned April 26 Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting has been rescheduled to May 10 to allow additional time for public review of the fiscal impact statement for newly adopted Columbia River fish management and reform rules now being challenged in the state’s Court of Appeals.

The fiscal impact statement was updated mid-March for the new management framework for non-tribal Columbia fisheries that the Commission approved in December 2012.

The management framework can be found at:

http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/LMCR_fisheries_mgmt_reform.asp

The new rules include a higher priority for the sport fishery in the lower Columbia River mainstem, a gradual shift of non-tribal commercial gillnets to enhanced off-channel areas and development of new commercial selective gears for the mainstem.

Implementation of these new rules is currently stayed by the Oregon Court of Appeals.

The Commission will consider comments provided during this additional time period.

The fiscal impact statement and the full May 10 meeting agenda will be available on ODFW’s web site, http://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/commission/minutes/, about 10 days before the meeting.

Meanwhile, the Columbia River Fiscal Impact Advisory Committee met Wednesday morning at ODFW Headquarters Building in Salem to review the recently updated fiscal impact statement. The group will make a recommendation to the commission on whether the revised fiscal impact statement adequately assesses the fiscal impact of the new rules.

Implementation of new rules was stayed as the result of a Feb. 11 state appeals court order. It said the stay was necessary pending resolution of legal issues outlined in a Jan. 4 “petition for judicial review” filed by commercial fishing interests.

The rule changes were adopted Dec. 7 by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission and approved the following month by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission. Washington and Oregon co-manage fisheries on the mainstem Columbia where the river represents a shared border. State officials say the rules are intended to emphasize commercial gill-net fisheries in off-channel areas dominated by hatchery fish, and thus reduce impacts on wild, protected salmon and steelhead that use the mainstem as their path toward spawning grounds upstream.

The state of Oregon on Feb. 21 asked for an extension of time, from March 4 through June 10, to file the administrative record in the case and “in order to address petitioners’ claims that the agency failed to comply with certain rulemaking procedures.”

“That process will serve to address petitioners’ concerns about the fiscal impact statement and provide them with an additional opportunity to comment on the rules,” the Oregon filing said.

“The Commission will determine whether to repeal, re-adopt, or amend the rules at a May 2013 meeting. If the present rules are repealed or amended, this proceeding will become moot and respondent will avoid the cost of unnecessarily preparing a judicial review record. If the rules are re-adopted, a single record may be provided at that time,” the Oregon brief said.

In his response, Oregon Court of Appeals Chief Judge Rick T. Haselton, left the rule implementation stay in place, but ordered a halt to court proceedings.

“ODFW has stated that it intends to complete its revisited process by no later than May 2013,” Haselton said. “Accordingly the court will hold the judicial review in abeyance until May 31, 2013. In the absence of some further and manifestly warranted application, this review will be reactivated on June 1, 2013.”

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