Tag Archives: fishing

Anglers Encouraged to Return Sturgeon Tags for Recognition and Monetary Reward

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed its annual sturgeon tagging program, catching and releasing nearly 400 sturgeon in Bay Area waters.  Many of the tags are eligible for a reward if returned to CDFW by anglers.

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The tagging operation is used to help manage California’s green and white sturgeon populations. Information received from anglers about tagged sturgeon complements the details submitted on sturgeon fishing report cards as well as data from party boats, creel surveys, surveys for juvenile sturgeon and various special studies.

CDFW offers monetary rewards for the return of certain marked tags. The tags are smaller than a dime and located behind the rear dorsal fin. Anglers who return a tag will also receive a certificate of appreciation from CDFW. Additional information and the form for returning tags can be found on the CDFW website.

“Protecting the white sturgeon fishery and the sturgeon populations requires research, collaboration, adaptive management and enforcement,” said CDFW Program Manager Marty Gingras. “Angler participation is a vital component of the information-gathering process – we rely on them to help us complete the loop.”

Working in Suisun and San Pablo bays from August through October, crews collected information on 18 green sturgeon, tagged 190 white sturgeon, and collected information on 169 white sturgeon that were either too small or too large to tag. In an ongoing collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and a new collaboration with San Francisco Estuary Institute, USFWS staff was also on board CDFW boats to collect various tissues as part of an age-and-growth study and a study monitoring selenium concentrations in white sturgeon.

The Sacramento-San Joaquin river system is the southernmost spawning grounds for both white sturgeon and green sturgeon.  Sturgeon in California can live more than 100 years and weigh over 500 pounds, but anglers most often catch sturgeon 3-4 feet in length.  The sturgeon fishery in California was once closed for decades due to overfishing. Today, commercial harvest of white sturgeon is not allowed, and recreational harvest of white sturgeon is regulated by size limit, daily bag limit and annual bag limit. Green sturgeon is a threatened species and neither commercial nor recreational harvest of those fish is allowed.

Serialized tags are provided with each sturgeon fishing report card to help enforce the bag limits. To enable law enforcement to cross-reference the tag with a particular card, anglers must permanently fix a tag to each kept white sturgeon until the fish is processed for consumption.

Anglers are required to return their 2015 sturgeon fishing report cards by Jan. 31, 2016.

Media Contact:
Marty Gingras, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (209) 234-3486
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Emergency Crab Closure Recommended, Commission to Meet Thursday

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a health advisory warning individuals to avoid eating rock and Dungeness crab due to the detection of high levels of domoic acid. The advisory was followed by a recommendation from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) to the California Fish and Game Commission and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to delay the start of the Dungeness crab season and close the rock crab fishery. These actions would apply to each fishery from the Oregon border to the southern Santa Barbara County line.

The OEHHA recommendation has prompted an emergency meeting of the Commission, which will take place at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 5 (agenda and meeting information). At that time, the Commission will consider voting to delay the opening of the recreational Dungeness crab fishery. The recreational Dungeness crab season is currently scheduled to start Saturday, Nov. 7.

Also based on the recommendation from OEHHA, CDFW will act on its authority to delay the start of the commercial Dungeness crab season. The commercial Dungeness crab season is currently scheduled to start Sunday, Nov. 15 in most of the state.

Similar action will be considered by the Commission and CDFW to close the recreational and commercial rock crab fisheries in the affected area. Both recreational and commercial rock crab seasons are open all year.

“These are incredibly important fisheries to our coastal economies and fresh crab is highly anticipated and widely enjoyed this time of year. Of course, delaying or closing the season is disappointing,” said CDFW Marine Regional Manager Craig Shuman. “But public health and safety is our top priority.”

CDFW, along with the OEHHA and CDPH, has been actively testing crabs since early September. OEHHA announced today that consumption of Dungeness and rock crabs is likely to pose a significant human health risk as a result of high levels of domoic acid. CDFW will continue to coordinate with OEHHA and CDPH to test domoic acid levels in crab along the coast to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened.

Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes fish. It causes illness and sometimes death in a variety of birds and marine mammals that consume affected organisms. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and can in some cases be fatal.

Domoic acid is produced from some species of the marine diatom Pseudo-nitzschia. Currently, a massive toxic bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia has developed, significantly impacting marine life along California’s coast. State scientists have been testing crab from eight fishing ports from Morro Bay to Crescent City, and have determined that the neurotoxin has spread throughout the fishery grounds.

Algal blooms are common, but this one is particularly large and persistent. Warmer ocean water temperatures associated with the El Niño event California is experiencing is likely a major contributing factor to the size and persistence of this bloom.

Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Nimbus Hatchery Fish Ladder to Open Nov. 2

The salmon ladder at Nimbus Hatchery in Rancho Cordova will open Monday, Nov. 2, signaling the start of the spawning season on the American River. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) hatchery workers will open the gates in the ladder at 9:30 a.m. and may take more than a half-million eggs during the first week alone in an effort to ensure the successful spawning of the returning fall-run Chinook salmon. 

California is entering what may be a fifth year of unprecedented drought. Because of current river conditions, salmon are returning later in the year than typical. Overall, the fall-run Chinook salmon return numbers are lower than normal. CDFW seeks to match historic hatchery production goals this year, but that may not be possible given the conditions.

“Drought conditions may affect the number of salmon returning to the river to spawn, but hatchery workers will continue to collect eggs throughout the fall with a goal of producing four million salmon fry,” said CDFW Program Manager Dr. Bill Cox. “We are working closely with other federal and state agencies to release cold water into the river system to give salmon the best chance to get up river to the hatchery.”

The three major state-run hatcheries in the Central Valley – the Nimbus Hatchery in Sacramento County, and hatcheries on the Feather River in Butte County and the Mokelumne River in San Joaquin County – will take approximately 24 million eggs over the next two months in order to produce Chinook salmon for release next spring.

Each hatchery has a viewing area where visitors can watch the spawning process. Thousands of schoolchildren tour the Nimbus and Feather River hatcheries each year. The visitors’ center at Nimbus Hatchery includes a playground with replicas of giant salmon that are enjoyed by young and old alike. For more information about spawning schedules and educational opportunities at each hatchery, please visit the CDFW website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/hatcheries.

There are eight state-run salmon and steelhead hatcheries, all of which will participate in the salmon spawning effort. Those hatcheries, along with federally run hatcheries, will be responsible for the release of approximately 40 million juvenile salmon into California waters. These massive spawning efforts were put in place over the last 50 years to offset fish losses caused by dams that block salmon from historic spawning habitat.

Once the young salmon reach 2 to 4 inches in length, one-quarter of the stock will be marked and implanted with coded wire tags prior to release. CDFW biologists use the information from the tags to chart the salmon’s survival, catch and return rates.

Media Contacts:
Laura Drath, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 358-2884
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

CDFW Simplifies Steelhead Report and Restoration Card

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) has simplified its 2016 steelhead report card.

The new card is shorter and easier to fill out. It provides anglers with clear and concise reporting instructions, consolidates location codes and better defines the data being collected.

Major changes to the 2016 card include:

  • A reduction of location codes from 73 to 20
  • The addition of a “did not fish” check box above the reporting section
  • Simplification of report card language
  • Clarification of reporting instructions

The consolidation of location codes benefits the angler by making it easier to identify which location code they are fishing in, while the simplification of language helps anglers more easily determine what data must be recorded and how to comply with the reporting requirement.

The steelhead data collected by anglers is important and aids CDFW in making management decisions, and is used to determine catch trends for specific watersheds. Revenue generated by report card sales is dedicated to steelhead restoration projects which contribute to the conservation and recovery of steelhead populations and benefit both the species and anglers.

Reporting online is preferred as it increases the accuracy of data and reduces data entry and administrative costs, and allows for more funds to be used for statewide steelhead restoration.

For more information regarding the Steelhead Report and Restoration Card Program and how data is utilized, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/steelheadcard. To enter your steelhead report card information online, please login to the CDFW online license sales and service system at https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Online-Sales.

Media Contacts:
Farhat Bajjaliya, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 327-8855
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Quarantined Shasta County Hatchery to Reopen

Darrah Springs Hatchery, operated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), was partially released from quarantine on Oct. 9 after being in quarantine since May because of whirling disease.
 
Extensive DNA testing of the fish by a commercial sciences lab have determined that all the trout in the hatchery building and the lower rearing ponds are free of the disease and the hatchery is resuming normal operations for that portion of the facility.  
 
“We were able to save thousands of fish by isolating them from the disease and will be able to grow and plant them into state waters very soon,” said Linda Radford, CDFW Regional Hatchery Supervisor. “Unfortunately part of the hatchery is still infected and we will have to destroy some fish.”
 
The upper part of the hatchery, located near the town of Paynes Creek, is still infected with the disease; the fish there will be destroyed, recycled and used for pet food and other purposes. The fish rearing areas still infected will be dried up and not utilized until the water supply can be either disinfected through a water treatment system or pathology testing verifies that the water supply no longer is infected.
 
Approximately 160,000 fish will be euthanized. The disposal of infected hatchery-raised trout is a necessary precaution to prevent the spread of disease to non-infected state waters where the fish would normally be planted.
 
Whirling disease is caused by Myxobolus cerebralis, a protozoan parasite that destroys cartilage in the vertebral column of trout and salmon. It can be fatal to infected trout and salmon but does not affect humans or other wildlife or fish. The whirling disease parasite is naturally present in some streams and rivers in California. Hatchery outbreaks are unusual but not unheard of (there has never been another outbreak of whirling disease in the department’s hatcheries in northern California).
 
Darrah Springs Hatchery supplies catchable trout for waters in Lassen, Modoc, Shasta, Siskiyou and Trinity counties and is one of 21 state-run hatcheries that provide millions of fish for California anglers.
 
Media Contact:
Andrew Jensen, CDFW Northern Region (530) 225-2378               
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944