The Corvid-19 virus has disrupted life as we know it here on the coast, throughout the state, the Nation and the world. The Oregon Coast relies on tourism and May is a popular time to kick off the season. One thing that brings many to the coast is the opening of Halibut all depth fishing. ODFW announced the first opening would be May 14-16. Many look forward to this each year. However this year because of the pandemic things may have to change.
During the port of Newport commission meeting held on April 28th the Port commission discussed the challenges that an opening of Halibut season would bring. The South Beach launch ramp is currently closed to the general public for activities related to recreational boating. The closure coincided with the Emergency Order by Lincoln County Resolution limiting RV parks, hotels, AirBNBs and other accommodations to those staying 30 days or more. That order has now been extended to May 31st.
Port of Newport Manager Paula Miranda said "this puts the Port in a bad situation." She said the Port needs to be consistent with other ports in the state to ensure social distancing and discourage tourism right now. Port Commissioner Walter Chuck pointed out that during All Depth Halibut season there can be as many as 600 boats per day that cross the bar. Many come from the valley, and if the opening for Halibut season stays the same these people can't use the boat ramps and will not have a place to stay, as the RV parks, hotels and motels are closed to short term rentals.
Miranda said she has been talking with officials at ODFW regarding this situation and they are aware of the hardship that opening the all depth halibut season would create not only for Lincoln County but for surrounding counties like Tillamook and Coos. Commissioner Sylvia said "it won't change the season by moving the date a couple of weeks, if they don't it really puts the port in a bad position. We need to be flexible and creative when it comes to dealing with this virus." Miranda said they are going to continue with discussions with ODFW and see if the opening date for Halibut season can be changed.