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Salmon fisheries of the coastal rivers of Oregon south of the Columbia Public Deposited

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  • In spite of the progressive restrictions of the commercial river fishery during the past fifty years, the trend of the salmon populations of the coastal rivers has been downward. It is almost impossible to isolate and analyze separately the causes of this decline, and any attempt to saddle one factor with the responsibility is an oversimplification of the facts. The salmon runs have too long been taken for granted. During the rapid development of the coastal area, the welfare of the fish was ignored. The physical character of the watersheds was changed as the timber was stripped off, and in these same operations streams were blocked by log jams, mill dams, splash dams and even the gravel from the spawning beds of the streams was removed to be used in road construction. At the same time other water uses were developed for power and irrigation. While the productive capacity of the streams was being reduced and the runs resultantly lowered, the fishermen competed with each other for the remaining fish and blamed one another for the lack of fish. Apparently, at no time until recent years was a serious program developed or even considered for the conservation of the salmon runs. To date with the possible exception of one or two instances pollution has not been a serious factor in the decline of the salmon runs. The commercial river fisheries are of considerable importance to the economy of various communities on the Oregon coast. They also provide a source of salmon to those who have no other access to this productive natural resource. The recreational salmon fishery is also an important source of income to Oregon coastal communities. It is, therefore, important to these communities and the State as a whole that the salmon runs be maintained at their maximum productive level. To accomplish this the Oregon Fish Commission has developed a long range management program for the coastal rivers. This encompasses stream clearance and improvement projects, the use of artificial propagation in introducing runs and supplementing natural runs, and the close regulation of the commercial river and offshore fisheries. This program has not been underway long enough to ascertain its success, but in several instances it appears to offer promise. However, close check is being kept on the runs in order that the results of this program can be evaluated as soon as possible. The stream surveys and other observations indicate that the coastal rivers and their salmon populations are not beyond redemption, and that under proper management can be made to yield annually several times their present production.
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