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‘Pull the plug’ boat concept has no exemptions — yet

I’m interested in learning a little more about what the Marine Board’s “pull the plug” rule might entail? We like to crab on the Oregon Coast, and I like to keep the Dungeness in my live well and alive until I get back to our RV park. Does that mean I can’t do that anymore?

— Fred F., email submission

The so-called “pull the plug” rule is part of a suite of “legislative concepts” that the Oregon State Marine Board is floating as possible bills it will see in the 2019 Oregon legislative session.

What’s getting the most attention is a proposal to raise registration fees for motorized boats from the current $4.50 per foot every two years to $5.95 per foot every two years.

Also, the Marine Board plans to ask the Legislature to scrap the $5 annual Aquatic Invasive Species Permit and replace it with a $17 “Waterway Access,” a one-year permit that would fund the invasive-species program and raise money to fund better access for nonmotorized boaters such as rafters, kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders.

Another legislative concept is the “pull the plug” law that would require boaters to open any valves and drain all standing water while a boat is transported over land. Violations would carry a $30 fine for nonmotorized boats and a $50 fine for motorized boats.

The idea is to ensure boaters don’t accidentally transplant species from one waterbody to another in bilge water.

Marine Board spokeswoman Ashley Massey says the current concept doesn’t call for any exemptions, so even commercial fishing boats would fall under the current edition of the proposal.

But it doesn’t mean there won’t be.

The concept has yet to be drafted into a bill, so there’s room for fluidity, Massey says.

As for your practice of carrying live crab in your livewell, Fred? Well, technically it’s illegal to transport shellfish in a livewell, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Folks who take live crab home for cleaning and cooking should keep them in a dry, cold cooler with a wet towel over them or pack them in ice, according to ODFW.

Those who want to cook their crab in seawater should pack water in a 5-gallon bucket and not use livewell water for it.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.