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Delta fish may be too far gone to save...

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Ross Compe

Joined: 18 Aug 2008
Posts: 1308
Location: Perth Western Australia

PostPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2015 8:47 am    Post subject: California Salmon Concerns Reply with quote

Concerns over crashing stocks of Salmon and devastating consequences for a sustainable sportfishing and commercial fishing endeavour in California are big news here in Australia Bob. Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad
Reports and worldwide media attention on what appears to be a squabble over the division of water resources for rivers and agriculture are not new and are not confined to the USA.
Recent media attention focusing on the Walnut industry and its promotion as a major benefit to health are again gaining attention.
Water diversion and irrigation between industry,agriculture and the division of the water resource to facilitate a heathy and productive fishery is always a tough nut to crack.

The Murray River in Australia and its native fish species are gradually recovering as a result of government funding following the study of impact on the use and division of water resources.
Anglers,tourists and environmentalists are well pleased with
the improvement to the quality of the mighty Murray River.
Income derived from investment in an improved recreational fishery are real and tangible.
Accomodation,boating,fuel,service and hospitality industries
generate local employment in a sustainable and ecological sound mangement of the nations natural inheritance.
Its always a tough decision when agriculture and the protection of the environment is paramount and all precedents are not the same.
Intervention and management on water in what many see as one of the worlds most important regions and cities is of critical importance.
Highly sucessful new agricultural crops and inherit uneconomical subsidised farming.
Confused Confused Confused Confused Confused Confused Confused Confused Confused Confused Confused Confused Confused Confused Confused Confused Confused

Expenditure on the environment has always been difficult to justify and unpredictable heavy rains following those decisions are costly in political terms though welcome.
We in Australia are envious of Californias Salmon fishery and its value for yourselves and future generations.
The Salmon fishery and its future are priceless as is the wildlife and a demonstrated succesful sustainable sportfishing and commercial fishing endeavour.
Good luck in your efforts to protect your fishery and your water resources. Wink Wink Wink
Ross Compe
Former Secretary General Australian Anglers Association
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Bob Fisher

Joined: 22 Dec 2003
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:51 pm    Post subject: Fewer great white sharks than scientists expected Reply with quote

Fewer great white sharks than scientists expected

Far fewer great white sharks ply California's coastal waters than biologists had expected, according to the first-ever census of the predators' population in the northeast Pacific Ocean.

In fact, scientists believe only 219 full-grown and near-adults hang out in the waters between Bodega Bay and Monterey each fall, feasting on seals and sea lions before roaming south to mate.

"The number seems incredibly low - it was very surprising for us," said Taylor Chapple, who led the study as a post-doctoral student at UC Davis. "If you look at other protected marine mammals such as polar bears or killer whales, their populations are far bigger than white sharks."

Chapple's report, published this week in the journal Biology Letters, relied on high-resolution photos taken of the sharks over three years. Because each animal bears a distinctive fin shape and markings, the team was able to calculate the total population based on which and how many sharks surfaced to chomp seal decoys deployed by boats at the Farallon Islands and Tomales Point at the north end of Point Reyes National Seashore.

The data fill in a critical blank for a species little known outside of the myths and infamy promulgated by "Jaws" and "Shark Week."

"I started studying these sharks in the late 1970s, and people always asked me how many there were. We just didn't know," said John McCosker, a great white shark expert and senior scientist at the California Academy of Sciences who was not involved in the study. "So now we're coming up with numbers - it's wonderful."

A top marine predator
Known simply as white sharks in biology circles, the fearsome species Carcharodon carcharias is one of the top marine predators and lives in oceans around the world. Males usually grow as long as 13 feet and females 15 feet - although some individuals have topped 20 feet. Significant numbers of the creatures cluster around South Africa, Australia/New Zealand and along California as far north as Mendocino County.

But until now, scientists weren't sure whether the population that has bedeviled California surfers, abalone divers and swimmers for generations numbered in the thousands or hundreds.

A trip to the cafe
The sharks typically linger in Northern California waters from August to December to feed on plentiful prey animals before high-tailing it to an area between San Diego and the Hawaiian Islands called the "shark cafe" between January and July.

Researchers suspect the toothy creatures meet up there to mate, but because the act has never been witnessed they can't be certain. Other mysteries include the sharks' gestation period, birthing habits, lifespan and number of offspring per pregnancy, Chapple said.

Part of the ignorance stems from the fact that mature white sharks don't survive in captivity. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has succeeded in studying a series of captive juveniles; but they were usually released after a few months.

No census figures
Because no historical census figures exist, it's also unknown whether great white numbers are climbing, falling or remaining stable.

The population was thought to be on the downswing as early settlers and modern Californians hunted the sharks' favorite prey to near extinction. The passage in 1972 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act - which safeguarded seals, sea lions, dolphins, porpoises and whales in U.S. waters - may have helped boost white shark populations.

McCosker theorizes that the animals may be even more abundant than Chapple's work suggests, given that questions swirl around whether photos of white shark fins can pick up changes between the sub-adult years and maturity. There is also evidence that more adult great whites are frequenting California's southern shores, based on attacks near Santa Barbara over the past several years, he said.

Either way, the UC Davis study will be a likely jumping-off point as scientists attempt to gain a more complete understanding of a species reviled and admired alike.

"There are still more unknowns than knowns," Chapple said. "But our knowledge of these majestic animals is going up exponentially."

E-mail Kelly Zito at

This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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Capt. Aussie Bob Fisher
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Bob Fisher

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:49 pm    Post subject: Salmon forecast brightens fishing season Reply with quote

Salmon forecast brightens fishing season

Fretting local fishermen, struggling with a perpetual lack of fish, can begin polishing up their boats because they are going to have a rendezvous with their beloved king salmon.

The biggest population of chinook salmon since 2006 is plying coastal waters right now, according to fishery biologists, who are predicting a spawning bonanza in the fall.

The big numbers prompted the Pacific Fishery Management Council to outline a series of options for commercial fishermen Wednesday that, besides being impenetrably confusing, all have one thing in common: They allow for plenty of fishing this year off the California coast.

"What it means is we are going to have the best fishing opportunities that we've had in several years," said Dave Bitts, president of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations.

The 14-member fishery council meets at this time every year to plan the fishing season, a process that is highly anticipated by fishing industry workers along the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington.

The council outlined three options, all of which will give anglers off the California coast significant time to haul in chinook in May, July, August and September, with less time in June.

"That's a significant chunk of four months without quotas," Bitts said. "It is about time."

The council has scheduled hearings and will recommend one option to the National Marine Fisheries Service for final approval in April.

Fish mean money
Salmon fishing has historically been a boon for fishermen, tackle shops, harbors, marine-equipment manufacturers and restaurants all along the California, Oregon and Washington coasts. The fish in the Sacramento River and its tributaries make up the bulk of the catch.

At its peak in 2002, 769,868 fish spawned in the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and their tributaries. The Central Valley chinook all pass through San Francisco Bay and roam the Pacific Ocean as far away as Alaska before returning three years later to spawn where they were hatched.

The problems started in 2008 when salmon populations suddenly plummeted. That year, commercial fishing was banned off the coasts of California and Oregon. In 2009, only 39,500 fall-run chinook returned to spawn in the Sacramento, the worst showing on record. That year highlighted the worst three-year period for the fish in the watershed since records were first compiled in the 1970s, biologists said.

Revival in the making
A revival now appears to be in the making, according to the California Department of Fish and Game. About 153,000 salmon returned to the Sacramento River system to spawn last fall, according to state statistics. That's the best return since 2006. And things are going to get even better, according to state and federal biologists. They estimate that there are 730,000 salmon in the ocean this year preparing to spawn.

The forecast is based largely on the percentage of 2-year-old salmon that return early to the river system. About 9,000 of these so-called jacks were counted in 2009 compared with about 4,000 in 2008. The jack count this past fall was 27,483.

"That is much better than we've had for some time, and the prediction is such that even if it's a bit optimistic, there should be plenty of fish left to catch and plenty to go up the river," Bitts said. "And that is the best news of all."

Mystery rebound
Nobody knows for sure why the salmon population is rebounding, but experts have cited several possibilities, including the fishing bans, improved ocean conditions, abundant precipitation and limits on water diversions.

The three options presented Wednesday essentially allow commercial and recreational anglers to reel in more than half the fish in the sea and in the river. Fishery managers predict that a little more than 350,000 salmon will successfully spawn next year in the Sacramento river system after fishing season is over.

But the estimates have been wrong in the past. Federal and state biologists overestimated the number of spawners by almost 100,000 fish in the 2010 season. And during that season, fishermen didn't notice an increase in fish.

Last year, sport anglers caught an average of one fish for every three days of fishing, well below 2007, the last time there was a significant fishing season. Commercial anglers last year caught eight fish per day of fishing, tied with 2006 as the worst year of the past decade, according to fish and game statistics.

E-mail Peter Fimrite at

This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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Capt. Aussie Bob Fisher
SportfishWorld, LLC.

Last edited by Bob Fisher on Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:51 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Bob Fisher

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 8:57 pm    Post subject: Delta fish may be too far gone to save... Reply with quote

Delta fish may be too far gone to save, plan hints

Damage to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is so extensive that billions of dollars in restoration efforts may not save smelt and salmon from extinction, according to the first draft of a long-range plan to manage the West Coast's most important estuary.

The bleak outlook, contained in a 52-page study released Monday night, could have major ramifications for California's drinking water, environmental policy and fish. Fishing industry representatives have long argued that fish populations are crashing because thirsty cities and farms siphon too much water from the delta.

The report by the Delta Stewardship Council says certain vulnerable species are unlikely to survive, even with significant investments to reinvigorate habitats, reduce pollution and increase freshwater flows through the estuary.

"Expert opinion suggests that some stressors are beyond our control and the system may have already changed so much that some species are living on the edge," the plan stated. "In addition, habitat conditions for some species may get worse before they improve."

'Incredibly cavalier'
Conservation groups were indignant Tuesday that the council would raise extinction as a possibility on which decision makers could base policy. They insist that merely considering such an outcome flies directly in the face of the Endangered Species Act.

"It's incredibly cavalier to say a species can be discarded," said Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. "The law requires extraordinary efforts to prevent these species' extinction."

The report is the first of seven drafts due this year from a panel tasked with balancing the ecological health of the delta and water supplies for 25 million Californians and 4 million acres of farmland. The seven-member council must submit a final plan by Jan. 1, 2012.

Along with the likely loss of some species, the draft highlighted three other broad conclusions:

-- California's total water supply is oversubscribed.

-- Patterns of precipitation and runoff are increasingly uncertain.

-- The state lacks an emergency response plan for the delta in case of earthquakes or other disasters.

With its location at the confluence of California's two biggest rivers, the 700,000-acre delta represents the heart of the state's vast water network. Its 1,100 miles of levees, channels and pumps funnel snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada to the Bay Area, Central Valley and Southern California.

The debate over what should be done with delta water has recently pitted water users against those who want to save endangered delta smelt and disappearing chinook salmon.

Record low numbers
After delta water exports hit their highest levels ever in the early 2000s, data showed record low numbers of salmon returning to inland rivers to spawn. In response, federal regulators canceled or curtailed the Pacific Coast salmon fishing season for three consecutive years. Though salmon stocks rose this past fall, biologists remain concerned about the long-term viability of a species that contributes billions to the California economy.

The thumb-size delta smelt is not caught recreationally or commercially. But it is considered a barometer of the health of an estuary awash with invasive species, pollution and decaying infrastructure.

While the council clearly believes some of the delta's problem can be solved, the smelt and salmon collapses have been so spectacular that solutions might not exist without taking extreme measures, according to officials.

'Issues are interconnected'
"The smelt may simply be too close to extinction," said Keith Coolidge, chief deputy executive officer of the council. "That is one of the issues on the table for discussion."

Fisheries advocates and environmentalists believe the council should expand its view of the delta crisis and acknowledge that the various dilemmas are intertwined. By reducing water exports to combat over-allocation, they insist, the plan would help save fish.

"Water supply, ecosystem health, flood management - all these issues are interconnected," said Barry Nelson, senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Californians don't want to see the bay delta collapse and wild salmon disappear. That's why we need a comprehensive plan."

The plan
To read a full first draft of the Delta Stewardship Council plan online, go to

E-mail Kelly Zito at

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Capt. Aussie Bob Fisher
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