CORVALLIS - The Oregon State University Extension Service and Oregon Sea Grant will establish a new marine extension position to focus on non-salmon marine fisheries, following state funding approved in November by the Legislative Emergency Board.

The new position was part of an emergency request by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in an effort to improve knowledge about, and management of, the groundfish industry.

The fishery, encompassing 83 species across a wide range of ocean habitats, is the largest, most valuable segment of the Pacific fishing industry. Harvested species include Pacific whiting, sablefish, dover and petrale sole, and rockfish caught by deep- and mid-water trawl, hook and line and other types of gear.

The Pacific Fisheries Management Council recently announced sharp restrictions on harvesting of several groundfish species. Required cuts in the allowable harvest for 1998 are expected to cost the industry up to 900 jobs, according to Jay Rasmussen, Oregon Sea Grant associate director and Extension Sea Grant program leader.

In making their case to the Emergency Board, ODFW officials noted a recent assessment by retired Sea Grant agent Bob Jacobson of Newport, who concluded among other things that the fishery suffers from a lack of reliable data about the size of groundfish stocks, habitat and other factors that affect fishing.

Oregon Sea Grant channels federal and state dollars into ocean and coastal research and education. The program also supports marine Extension agents and specialists who help bridge the information gap between academic researchers and coastal communities, industries and policy-makers. Extension Sea Grant agents are stationed in key coastal communities, while specialists in subjects ranging from seafood to coastal recreation and tourism are based on the Oregon State campus and at OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

Rasmussen said the new Extension position will serve the industry, fisheries managers and fishing communities by providing access to research-based information about a wide range of fishery-management issues, helping set priorities for additional research into the fishery, and helping develop programs that set appropriate fishing levels while limiting the impact on the industry.

The position, expected to be filled by spring, also will focus on other non-salmon fisheries, including Dungeness crab and Pacific shrimp.

The position, an OSU faculty appointment, will be filled through a competitive search. Persons interested in being notified of the position opening should write to: Jay Rasmussen Extension Sea Grant Program Leader, Hatfield Marine Science Center, 2030 S. Marine Science Drive, Newport OR 97365-5296, or by e-mail to:Note to Editors: This story originally contained a World Wide Web address. The characters used in Web addresses will not telecommunicate in our system. Please call us at 541-737-0801 for the address.

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Jay Rasmussen, 541-867-0370