Salmon-Steelhead bills advance in Oregon Senate

Senate passes two Atkinson bills to strengthen salmon and steelhead populations
State Senator Jason Atkinson,

Salem – The Senate passed Senate Bill 472 and Senate Bill 545 Saturday afternoon, bills that will create larger and healthier salmon and steelhead populations in Oregon rivers. Senate bill 472 will start a hatchbox program on the Rogue River.  The use of hatchboxes are a proven method for increasing the life expectancy of fish eggs. Senate Bill 545 directs the Department of Fish and Wildlife to study pathogens in fish hatcheries and determine what the best practices are for successfully raising fish in hatcheries.

“Fishing in Oregon’s streams and rivers is one of our state’s great legacies,” said Atkinson.  “These bills are in the best tradition of ingenuity and conservation, and I believe an important part of protecting and restoring our salmon and steelhead runs.”

Senate Bill 472 will begin a pilot project through the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to work with local communities and conservation groups in establishing a hatchbox program on the Rogue River.  Hatchboxes are special protective boxes that protect and incubate eggs within the river until they hatch.  A $45 hatchbox can hatch 1,000 eggs at a time.  Survival rates of eggs to fry stage are 65 percent to 95 percent, compared to natural survival rates of 5 percent to 20 percent.

“The more eggs that survive to fry stage, the more fry have a chance of surviving to adulthood,” said Atkinson.  “It is simple math, and I think it is another thing we can do to help ensure that there are strong fish populations for our kids and grandkids to fish.”

Oregon’s world famous salmon and steelhead rivers are threatened by diminishing fish populations.  Senate Bill 472 and Senate Bill 545 now go to the House of Representatives for approval.

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