Tag Archives: Sturgeon

Threatened Green Sturgeon Rescued from Fremont Weir, Returned to Sacramento River

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Biologists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently saved a Sacramento River green sturgeon trapped in the Fremont Weir. The five-and-a-half-foot long fish was stranded in the nearly two-mile-long concrete weir when Sacramento River floodwaters receded. Sturgeon in this area are migrating up the Sacramento River to spawn above Red Bluff.

Sacramento River green sturgeon were listed as threatened by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) under the Endangered Species Act in 2006.

“Rescuing adult fish is always important, but because this year’s high flow conditions are optimal for sturgeon, every sturgeon saved is in a good position to spawn,” said CDFW Fisheries Branch Chief Kevin Shaffer. “Every rescue contributes to a brighter future for the species.”

Captured on March 15, the sturgeon was estimated at more than125 pounds and over 50 years of age. Its large size required biologists to encircle it with a net rigged to poles. It was caught by slipping a hoop net over its head and unraveling a sock-like netting down the length of its body to subdue it. The fish was then placed in a specially-designed cradle for transport back to the main channel of the Sacramento River. Biologists took DNA samples, surgically implanted a sonic tracking tag and measured it prior to releasing it.

Rescuing breeding adults is vitally important to the future of the green sturgeon population. This individual’s opportunity to spawn in the future supports the genetic diversity and integrity of the population. Over the last few years, a number of green sturgeon have been acoustically tagged in the greater Sacramento-San Joaquin River system and are being tracked to better estimate population size, distribution and migration patterns.

Recent efforts to assist green sturgeon appear to be helping, according to NOAA green sturgeon recovery coordinator Joe Heublein. He recently stated that he is “cautiously optimistic” that production may start to increase with improvements to spawning habitat accessibility.

Under Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s “California Eco Restore” initiative, a $4.5 million construction project to improve Fremont Weir is slated to start this summer. The changes will improve fish passage back to the Sacramento River as bypass flows recede, reducing the risk of stranding for endangered and threatened salmon and sturgeon.

Recent rescue efforts have saved green and white sturgeon, young fall-, winter- and spring-run Chinook salmon, young and adult steelhead, a lamprey, two species of bass and a host of other native fish.

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Media Contact:
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

Fishing Report Cards Due Soon

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds anglers and divers that Jan. 31, 2017 is the due date for turning in steelhead, sturgeon, abalone and north coast salmon report card data.

Information collected from sport fishing report cards provides CDFW biologists with important data necessary to monitor and manage California’s diverse recreational fisheries, including preparing recommendations for sport fishing seasons and limits that allow for sustainable levels of take. This science-based management helps to ensure healthy populations of fish for future generations.

Anglers and divers are required to return their report cards pursuant to section 1.74 of the California sport fishing regulations. Anglers and divers must report even if the report card was lost, they did not fish or they did not catch any fish. Cards should be reviewed carefully for accuracy prior to submitting them.

There are two ways to meet the mandatory angler reporting requirement. Online reporting (www.wildlife.ca.gov/reportcards) is easy, fast and free. Online reporting includes instant confirmation that the report has been received and accepted.

Sport fishing report cards may also be returned by mail to the addresses listed below:

North Coast Salmon Report Cards
CDFW – Klamath River Project
5341 Ericson Way Arcata, CA 95521-9269

Abalone Report Cards
CDFW – Abalone Report Card
32330 N. Harbor Drive
Fort Bragg, CA 95437-5554

Steelhead Report Cards
CDFW – Steelhead Report Card
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090

Sturgeon Report Cards
CDFW – Sturgeon Report Card
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090

Lobster cards are not due until April 30.

Please note that license sales agents cannot accept report cards. More information about report cards is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing.

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Media Contacts:
Glenn Underwood, CDFW License and Revenue Branch, (916) 928-5841

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

CDFW Busts Suspected Sturgeon Poachers; Sacramento County District Attorney Files Charges

Six Sacramento residents have been charged with multiple Fish and Game Code violations after California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers concluded a multi-week investigation of a sturgeon poaching operation.

The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office will pursue a case against Sacramento residents Mikhail Tverdokhlebov, 54; Aleksandr Postnov, 48; Sang Saephan, 29; Narong Srikham, 35; Mike Keopraseut, 46; and Roongroji Sritula, 48. The six men face charges including conspiracy to unlawfully take sturgeon; take and possession of sturgeon for commercial purposes; unlawful possession of sturgeon; possession of untagged and oversize sturgeon (the maximum size is 60”); and failure to properly return/report sturgeon fishing cards.

Extensive evidence of illegal activities was uncovered by wildlife officers as they served search warrants at multiple locations where the suspected members of the group ran their poaching operation.

At one location officers found an oversized, untagged sturgeon that was barely alive and lay flopping on the floor of the garage. The fish could not be saved. Officers also found more than 20 jars of caviar (processed sturgeon roe or fish eggs), some labeled with prices; weights and sturgeon meat labeled with prices; and fish processing equipment including scales and canning equipment. Officers seized fishing rods and tackle along with various CDFW licenses and tags, and other tools and evidence of illegal poaching activities.

If convicted, the six suspects could face several thousand dollars in fines and penalties, incarceration, forfeiture of assets and equipment and revocation of fishing privileges.

Two types of sturgeon, white and green, are native to the anadromous waterways of California. White sturgeon, which was taken in this case, is highly sought after for its meat and roe. This creates a commercial black market that leads to rampant poaching of the species. CDFW spends significant resources on equipment and personnel hours to combat sturgeon poaching and protect this iconic species of California’s Central Valley.

“Illegal trafficking of wildlife is a multi-million dollar black market industry often linked to criminal organizations,” said David Bess, Chief of CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division. “Wildlife trafficking threatens the stability of species, the economy and public safety, not only in California, but also globally.”

Anyone with information about unlawful fishing, hunting, or pollution is encouraged to contact CDFW CalTIP, a confidential secret witness program that encourages the public to provide wildlife officers with factual information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters. The CalTIP number, (888) 334-2258, is printed on the back of every hunting and fishing license. Tips can also be relayed by text to tip411, which allows the public to text message an anonymous tip to wildlife officers and lets the officers respond back creating an anonymous two-way conversation. Anyone with a cell phone may send an anonymous tip to CDFW by texting “CALTIP”, followed by a space and the message, to 847411 (tip411). There is also an app for smartphones that works similarly. For more information on the program and how to download the new CalTIP app, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/enforcement/caltip.

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Media Contact:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (530) 523-6720

CDFW Rescue Efforts Save Listed Salmon, Steelhead and Sturgeon

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) biologists have rescued hundreds of fish — including dozens of endangered and threatened salmon, steelhead and sturgeon — that were stranded in Sacramento Valley bypasses after recent heavy rains.

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The fish — including endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, threatened Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon, threatened Central Valley steelhead and a threatened green sturgeon – were trapped in Fremont and Tisdale Weirs, flood control structures off the Sacramento River, when flood waters receded after mid-March rainstorms.

Rescue efforts began in late March, concluding in mid-April. Seventeen CDFW staff participated in the rescue efforts at the weirs, using beach seines, a sturgeon hoop net, dip nets and crowder racks to capture fish trapped within each weir apron.

The bulk of the rescued fish were salmon, with biologists capturing and tagging 41 adults and 160 juveniles. Based on length-at-date, the young salmon are believed to be a mixture of spring-run and fall-run fish. Staff also rescued one oversized adult green sturgeon, a massive female white sturgeon and hundreds of other fish, including Sacramento sucker, Sacramento pikeminnow, Sacramento splittail, striped bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill and redear sunfish. All of the fish were moved back to the Sacramento River and released.

DNA tests are currently underway on a sampling of the fish rescued. Results will verify biologists’ field assessments that the adult salmon include winter-run and spring-run Chinook.

“We know these areas are prime stranding sites, so we keep them on our radar each year,” said Colin Purdy, CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist. “Rescuing state and federally listed species is a priority — particularly the adult fish, because they contribute to future generations. But all of the fish we pull out of the weir are transported back to the river for release.”

Biologists also used special tracking equipment in an effort to document the behavior and survival of the rescued fish. The green sturgeon, an adult male stranded in the Fremont Weir apron, was tagged with a surgically implanted acoustic tag on March 29 before being released into the Sacramento River. It was subsequently tracked on real-time acoustic receivers heading upstream toward its likely spawning grounds near Red Bluff.  The white sturgeon, a post-spawn female, was rescued from the Tisdale Weir on March 31. It was also given an acoustic tag and was subsequently tracked heading downstream.

Four adult Chinook salmon rescued on April 8 have since been detected moving upstream by real-time acoustic receivers.

All juvenile steelhead rescued were implanted with passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags. Staff from the Pacific States Marine Fisheries oversaw their care and release as part of CDFW’s Central Valley Steelhead Monitoring Program.

CDFW has a team of scientists who monitor locations along the Sacramento River where fish tend to enter the Yolo and Sutter bypasses during high flows and become stranded once flows subside. Initial surveys of the fish stranded in water behind Fremont Weir documented four sturgeon. Only two of these were recovered during rescue efforts. CDFW is seeking information regarding possible illegal harvest or take of these two oversized sturgeon.

If you have information about this or any other fish and wildlife violation, please dial the toll-free CalTIP number, 1 888 334-CALTIP (888 334-2258), 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Anyone with a cell phone may send an anonymous tip to CDFW by texting “CALTIP”, followed by a space and the message, to 847411 (tip411).

Media Contacts:
Colin Purdy, CDFW North Central Region, (916) 358-2943
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169

Map-based Sport Fishing Regulations Offers Ease of Use for Anglers

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has launched a beta release of an online location-based Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations tool to help anglers identify those regulations that relate to the area they plan to fish. The new tool provides an easy way for anglers to find the sections of the regulations that are relevant to them.

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The new fishing regulations tool can be found at https://map.dfg.ca.gov/sportfishingregs/. It is designed to work on a smart phone, tablet or desktop computer.

When accessed from a smart phone or a tablet with GPS, the map-based tool will automatically present the angler with the sport fishing regulations that apply to their current location based on the GPS in the device. When accessed from a tablet without GPS or from a desktop computer, the user can click anywhere on the map to discover the regulations for that area.

The new tool includes the Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet, found on our Regulations webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/regulations.

The regulations are also now available in the existing Fishing Guide, available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/guide.

“This is a big step forward in making the complex fishing regulations more accessible to the angling community,” said CDFW Acting Fisheries Branch Chief Roger Bloom. “As we continue to simplify our fishing regulations, they will be kept up-to-date within this new tool.”

This is a beta release that CDFW staff will be actively working to improve. CDFW welcomes comments or suggestions for improvement. Please send feedback to fishingguide@wildlife.ca.gov.

Media Contacts:
Roger Bloom, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 445-3777
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944