The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has released the Results of the 2018 Town Hall Meetings for the Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program (OREHP).
The report concludes that preferences for the future direction of the OREHP varied among stakeholder groups. Recreational fishing, K-12 education, and academic science participants who participated in the Town Hall meetings were overwhelmingly in support of continuing the OREHP’s White Seabass program and/or another species (primarily California Halibut) for potential enhancement. Discontinuation of the OREHP was favored by the commercial fishing groups who attended the Town Hall meetings and was suggested by seven to 20 percent of participants in the non-profit, K-12 education and recreational fishing groups, with a preference for using collected funds to apply to other efforts that may benefit fisheries and the ocean. The report also recommends the development and implementation of an inclusive, open process for making decisions about the OREHP’s future.
The OREHP was established by the California Legislature in 1983 to conduct research into the restoration and enhancement of marine finfish populations important to California for their sport and commercial fishing value. The program, the longest-running experimental marine fish stock enhancement program in the United States, is managed by CDFW with the assistance of the Ocean Resources Enhancement Advisory Panel (Advisory Panel). The OREHP includes a marine fish hatchery operated by Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, and ten grow-out pens operated by volunteer organizations throughout Southern California. White Seabass are raised at the hatchery and transported to the grow-out pens for their eventual release along the coast.
On February 1, 2018, CDFW, in collaboration with California Sea Grant (CASG), released the Evaluation Report for the Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program. The report was the result of an extensive multi-year evaluation by an independent Scientific Advisory Committee and included a suite of recommendations to improve achievement of the OREHP’s objectives and goals.
To help inform CDFW and the OREHP in their discussions of the evaluation, CDFW partnered with CASG to gather public opinion on the social values and potential direction of the OREHP from public stakeholder groups in Southern California. In June 2018, CDFW and CASG facilitated three town hall meetings to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to comment on the evaluation report’s results and recommendations, as well as the future direction of the OREHP. CDFW also accepted written comments from those who were unable to attend the town hall meetings. CDFW and the Advisory Panel will use the results of the evaluation and town hall reports to inform the future direction of the program.
For further information please direct inquiries to Valerie Taylor, CDFW’s OREHP Coordinator at (562) 342-7170 or Kathryn Johnson, CDFW Environmental Scientist at (562) 342-7179.
post by Valerie Taylor, CDFW Environmental Scientist