Tag Archives: The Delta

Reward Offered for Return of Satellite Tags from Federally Protected Green Sturgeon

State and federal fisheries officials are asking for public assistance and offering a $20 reward for the return of each satellite tag from green sturgeon. The satellite tags, which are programmed to release from the fish after a predetermined time, are most likely to be found along the open ocean coastal portions of San Francisco and San Mateo counties, and the shores and waters of San Francisco Bay, San Pablo Bay, Suisun Bay and the Delta.

Biologists use the tags to gather information on the Southern Distinct Population Segment of green sturgeon, a species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The tag rewards are being offered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), in collaboration with the West Coast Groundfish Observer Program, UC Davis and central California commercial halibut trawl fishermen.

If you see a live fish with a tag attached, do not remove the tag from the fish. Instead, note the tag number and call or email the point of contact printed on the tag. If you find a detached tag, please pick it up for return and contact Kristine Lesyna , CDFW Marine Region, (650) 631-6742, or Ethan Mora, NOAA Fisheries, (831) 420-3663.

More information about the tagging study can be found on the NOAA Fisheries Green Sturgeon Bycatch Project webpage.

Media Contacts:
Kristine Lesyna, CDFW Marine Region, (650) 631-6742
Ethan Mora, NOAA Fisheries, (831) 420-3663
Carrie Wilson, CDFW Communications, (831) 649-7191
Jim Milbury, NOAA Fisheries, (562) 980-4006

As White Sturgeon Decline, Anglers’ Failure to Return Sturgeon Fishing Report Cards Could Lead to Restrictions

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is working to keep the state’s white sturgeon population from declining precipitously. Much of that work is estimating the number of fish harvested (kept), the harvest rate and population size. Because many sturgeon anglers fail to submit their sturgeon fishing report cards and data from report cards is very important, new harvest restrictions or restrictions on the sale of the report cards may be required to address uncertainty attributable to uncooperative sturgeon anglers.

For the prehistoric-looking fish in California, it is as though 2015 is the ninth straight year of drought. White sturgeon only reproduce well here when the Sacramento River is nearing flood stage for many weeks during both winter and spring. That hasn’t happened since 2006, triggering a period of decline that will last at least another nine years.

During this period of white sturgeon decline, conservation of the population and its fishery depends on CDFW’s ability to adaptively manage harvest numbers. Good data is necessary for successful adaptive management. Data is gathered from research trawls, a tagging study, fishing guides, party boats, creel surveys and report cards.

California Code of Regulations, section 1.74(d)(1), requires sturgeon anglers, abalone and lobster divers, certain salmon anglers and steelhead anglers to send CDFW their report cards each year. Unfortunately, many sturgeon anglers – even those who are otherwise responsible – do not submit their catch data. Sturgeon anglers are second in enthusiasm only to abalone divers, but those avid sturgeon anglers are far less likely to submit their report cards than avid participants in other fisheries.

The white sturgeon population also declined because of the severe 1987-92 drought. The Fish and Game Commission helped jump-start recovery of the population by protecting more adult sturgeon in 2006 than it had previously. The length of legally harvestable white sturgeon – the so-called ‘slot limit’ – was temporarily narrowed for the spring of 2006.

“The stars aligned in 2006,” said CDFW sturgeon biologist Marty Gingras. “Flows were the best since 1998 and there was relatively little harvest on the spawning grounds because the slot limit was so narrow.”

Sturgeon anglers should see a brief period of improved catch rates in the next few years as white sturgeon spawned in 2006 reach legally harvestable size, then a decline for at least nine years. The rate and magnitude of decline can be managed through restrictions on harvest and can be better understood if sturgeon anglers submit catch data on sturgeon fishing report cards as required by regulation.

####

Media Contacts:

Marty Gingras, CDFW Bay-Delta Fisheries, (209) 234-3486
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

Poachers Take Advantage of Drought Conditions to Target Juvenile Salmon

California wildlife officers patrolling the Sacramento River recently cited six suspects for unlawfully taking and possessing juvenile salmon, and using the young fish as bait to target sturgeon. All of the suspects initially denied use of salmon as bait, but wildlife officers were able to reel in their lines and show them the dead salmon on their hooks.

The alleged poachers worked during the early morning hours under the cover of darkness and focused their effort on sandbars on the Sacramento River in Yolo and Sacramento counties. The sandbars were recently exposed due to drought conditions. Wildlife officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Delta Bay Enhanced Enforcement Project (DBEEP), Special Operations Unit (SOU) and local squads continue to use the Governor’s drought overtime support to step up patrols in these sensitive areas to protect salmon and sturgeon from poachers.

In the first case, a wildlife officer observed two subjects wading in the Sacramento River and using a large net to capture juvenile salmon near a sandbar created by the low flow conditions. They netted the small salmon for later use as bait to fish for sturgeon. The wildlife officer ultimately determined that the two anglers and one more fisherman used fishing rods baited with the juvenile salmon they’d caught. Tony Saetern, 25, Michael Anglero, 24, and Kao Saeyang, 28, all of Sacramento, were each cited for unlawful use of salmon as bait and unlawful possession of salmon out of season.

A few nights later, wildlife officers observed a suspect using a hand light and dip net to unlawfully capture and keep multiple juvenile salmon in the same area of the Sacramento River. The officers watched as a total of three suspects in the group appeared to use the salmon as bait for fishing. Officers contacted the suspects and found two of them in possession of fishing rods with hooks baited with the salmon. As the officers were conducting the investigation, a sturgeon was hooked on another fishing rod belonging to the group, was landed and released. Officers found the group in possession of a Snapple beverage bottle containing 14 additional juvenile salmon for later use as bait.

Nai Poo Saechao, 36, of Antelope and Lai C Saechao, 27, of Sacramento, were both cited for unlawful use of salmon as bait, possession of salmon out of season and an overlimit of salmon. Vincent Sai Poo Saechao, 23, of Antelope, was cited for unlawful method of take of salmon.

“During this time of year, juvenile salmon are migrating downstream to the Delta and are vulnerable to this type of poaching as they seek shelter from prey fish close to shore,” DBEEP Warden Byron Trunnell explained. “Salmon season is closed on the Sacramento River, and nets are not an authorized method of take for game fish in inland waters.”

The unlawful practice of catching juvenile salmon for bait has long been a concern and is an enforcement priority this time of year. Poaching pressure on salmon is particularly harmful now, given California’s current drought situation. CDFW and numerous other agencies on both the state and federal levels are taking action wherever possible to support the long-term viability of salmon populations of the Sacramento River watershed.

CDFW appreciates legitimate anglers and asks for the public’s help in apprehending those who are taking advantage of our natural resources. Illegal activity can be reported through the CDFW Californians Turn In Poachers and Polluters (CalTIP) line at 888-334-2258, or via email or text (please see www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/caltip.aspx for details).

Media Contact:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095CDFW Wildlife Officer (2)

Restoration Grant Program Draft Guidelines Now Available for Public Comment

Media Contacts:
Helen Birss, CDFW Watershed Restoration Grant Branch, (916) 653-9834
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is excited to announce the release of the Restoration Grant Program draft guidelines authorized and funded by Proposition 1 (Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014), which was passed by California voters last November. CDFW is now seeking public input on these guidelines via email, mail and a series of public meetings.

“This is an important opportunity to continue and expand upon the work we do across the state to restore habitat for fish and wildlife and protect important landscapes, while fostering partnerships and selecting the best projects through a competitive process,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham.

For CDFW, this bond act provides, in total, $285 million for ecosystem restoration projects outside the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) and $87.5 million for projects that benefit the Delta. Ecosystem restoration provides important benefits to water supply and sustainability as well as fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Ecosystem restoration is also a climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy.

The public is encouraged to review and comment on the draft guidelines which can be found both at the CDFW Grants website and the Bond Accountability website. Written comments should be emailed to the WatershedGrants@wildlife.ca.gov or mailed to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Restoration Grant Program
1416 Ninth St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

CDFW will hold three public meetings in March and April 2015 for the purpose of receiving comments on the draft guidelines. The meeting dates and locations will be posted on the CDFW Grants website when available.

The purpose of the guidelines is to establish the process, procedures and criteria through which CDFW will administer competitive grants for multi-benefit ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration projects in accordance with statewide priorities, including those in the California Water Action Plan. To achieve this, CDFW is creating two new grant programs. The Watershed Restoration Grant Program will focus on watershed restoration outside of the Delta and the Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program will focus on water quality, ecosystem restoration and fish protection facilities that benefit the Delta.

CDFW Seeks Public Comment on Wetland Restoration Grant Program

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is seeking comments on a new solicitation of grant proposals for wetland restoration grants.

Dry grasses surround blue water in a seasonal wetland
Flooded section of Yolo Basin Wildlife Area, north of the Delta. Dana Michaels/CDFW photo

CDFW recently initiated its Wetlands Restoration Greenhouse Gas Reduction Grant Program, and is seeking public input on the development of a solicitation for projects to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) and achieve co-benefits for fish and wildlife habitat. CDFW is seeking input on the geographic scope of projects, solicitation priorities, types of projects, methods of monitoring and quantifying GHG reduction, and proposal evaluation criteria for this solicitation. The project area is currently defined as the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, coastal wetlands and mountain meadows.

Proposals submitted under this solicitation will undergo an evaluation and ranking process to identify high quality projects to achieve the priorities and objectives of this solicitation.

Written public comments on this solicitation must be submitted by noon on Sept.18 and sent to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Attention: Helen Birss
Re: Wetland Restoration Grant Program
1416 Ninth Street, Suite 1260
Sacramento, CA 95814

Comments can also be sent via e-mail to Helen.birss@wildlife.ca.gov (please use “Solicitation comment” in the subject line.)

For more information on the solicitation process, please visit https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=88780&inline.

Media Contacts:
Helen Birss, CDFW Habitat Conservation Branch, (916) 653-9834
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420