ROSEBURG — A fishermen's group that helps stock the South Umpqua River with hatchery winter steelhead is unhappy with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife's decision to donate some of the fish to a local tribe.
The state agency provides fish to the Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe for ceremonial use or for its food bank as part of ODFW's hatchery steelhead program.
Members of the Umpqua Fisherman's Association say they don't have a problem with feeding people or the tribe, but it's not the point of the program for which they volunteer. They say the steelhead should have been released to grow, remaining in the fishery for possible harvest by anglers.
The group nets brood stock for the hatchery program and clips fins on fingerlings to mark them as hatchery fish. Moreover, members provide 24-hour maintenance of the young fish at the Canyon Creek acclimation ponds and help net the fish for release into the creek to begin their journey to the ocean.
"We've been the grunts of the program because the state doesn't have the budget for the labor," said Mike Brochu, president of the fishermen's group. "We don't begrudge that, but they (ODFW) have ignored the people who are their partners."
Because brood stock goals had been met, the agency on Tuesday removed 10 fish from a trap on Canyon Creek, a tributary of the South Umpqua River, and made the donation. The department planned to remove more fish for donation on Thursday, but canceled the effort because of the controversy, said Laura Jackson, ODFW district fish biologist for the Umpqua watershed.
"We'd like the opportunity to work this out with our partners," she wrote in email to the parties involved that was obtained by the (Roseburg) News-Review.
Amy Amoroso of the Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe told the newspaper the tribe won't accept any more steelhead until the fishermen and the ODFW resolve the matter.