Posts Tagged department of fish and game

Nov 9 2014

Morro Bay’s fishing industry reels in largest catch in 20 years

6.8 million pounds of fish landings were reported in 2013 in Morro Bay, up from low of 668,866 pounds in 2007, study of data from Department of Fish and Wildlife reveals

By Nick Wilson | November 6, 2014

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The fishing industry in Morro Bay has regained its sea legs, bouncing back from a 20-year low in 2007 to post its largest catch by volume since 1993, according to an economic impact report released this week.

Lisa Wise Consulting Inc. compiled the study, which showed a boost in earnings of more than 300 percent from about $2 million in 2007 to about $7.1 million in 2013 — the latest year of data accumulated.

The report documents a rise in fish landings from a low of 668,866 pounds in 2007 to nearly 6.8 million pounds in 2013, the highest single-year landing total since the boom times of the early ’90s.

The report relies on figures documented under government regulations, including information provided by the fishing industry to the Marine Fisheries Statistical Unit at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

This is the fourth consecutive year of the report, which was produced this year with $6,000 in funding provided by the Central California Joint Cable/Fisheries Liaison Committee. The Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization also partners in the project. “As fishermen, we have an understanding of the industry, but others often don’t,” said Jeremiah O’Brien, a member and past president of the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization. “We do those reports to show people what’s happening.”

Lots of good news
The latest data shows a steady trend of increased earnings and landings, although the figures haven’t yet matched peak years of the 1990s, which topped 9 million pounds of landings in 1990 and eclipsed 10 million in 1993.

In 2008, the city of Morro Bay paid for an economic study that predicted a change from a once-thriving fishing industry to a primarily recreational fishing and boating area.

However, the city has since recognized the recovery of the commercial fishing industry, which “should continue to play a significant role in the social and economic future of Morro Bay,” staff members wrote in a recent report.

One of the factors that contributed to the decade-long decline in Morro Bay’s fishing industry — in additional to environmental closures and restrictions of fishing in certain ocean areas — occurred in 2006 with the purchase of Morro Bay’s fishing quota.

The Nature Conservancy bought out Morro Bay’s entire trawl fishing industry in 2006 with the goal of protecting and growing fish populations while limiting fishing.

About eight trawlers left the business, which exacerbated the decline in landings in those years, O’Brien said.

Since that time, the local industry has steadily improved, and earlier this year, the Conservancy transferred the quotas to the Morro Bay Community Quota Fund, which manages the fishing quota and leases fishing permits to local fishermen, who may trawl under specified environmental restrictions such as avoiding trawling in coral reef areas.

How the catch evolved
While the overall catch and earnings have climbed in recent years, landings of certain species have declined along with closures and regulations on uses of fishing equipment.

The salmon catch, for example, dropped to 45,000 pounds in 2013, from around 200,000 pounds per year in much of the 1990s.

And halibut, which must be fished outside of three miles from shore, has remained low for the past decade with a total of about 10,328 pounds landed in 2013 compared with takes of more than 40,000 pounds in the early 1990s.

But other species — including Dungeness crab and squid — have spiked.

Crab accounted for 17 percent of 2013 earnings in Morro Bay, climbing to a 20-year high of more than 300,000 pounds in landings.

There were 170,000 pounds of crab caught in 2006, which was the previous high in the past two decades. There was little to no crab caught between 2008 and 2011.

“The last couple of years we’ve seen a lot more crab,” O’Brien said. “Crab is typically cyclical, and we’ll have bigger catches usually about every six years. But they’ve been spawning in big numbers the past three in a row.”

The squid catch has also swelled, with landings of more than 4 million pounds in 2013.

That total hasn’t been matched since 1993, the only other year in the past two decades to top 4 million pounds of squid.

O’Brien said that a couple of fishing boats have made the investment in catching large numbers of squid along the Central Coast, which has kept squid processing companies from Watsonville and San Pedro, the closest around, returning to Morro Bay because it’s worth their while.

Another factor in the boom in local crab and squid fishing has been a trending preference for the seafood in China, where local buyers are shipping their products.

Local fishermen including Bill Blue have seen their sales of live crab, transported to China, significantly boost income over the past few years.

Like fellow anglers, Blue fishes for a variety of species, including black cod, but the high price that crab fetches in China is too lucrative to pass up.

“It’s good for business, but sad in some ways because you don’t see as many local restaurants buying crab because of the high price (driven by the Chinese market),” Blue said. “That means local people can’t go and get them as easily.”


 

Read original story here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2014/11/06/3337295/morro-bays-fishing-industry-reels.html

Oct 26 2013

Boom Times for Squid Fishery

The Santa Barbara Independent

For the fourth year in a row ​— ​and with the fastest time ever since modern regulations began in 2005 ​— ​California’s squid-fishing fleet (pictured) hit its annual limit early, with the more than 100 permitted boats landing about 118,000 tons of the slimy species known as Doryteuthis opalescens by October 18, nearly six months before the season ends on March 31, 2014. Much of that haul came from boats working the Channel Islands and Gaviota Coast with bright lights at night, when it’s easiest to snag the squid as they spawn near the shoreline. From there, the Southern California boats deliver their loads to processing centers in Ventura, Port Hueneme, and San Pedro, which then freeze the squid and ship most of them to China. Together with the squid fishers up north in the Monterey Bay, the industry rakes in about $70 million annually.

“They’re the most valuable fishery in the state of California,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, the Buellton-based director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, which represents commercial fishermen who catch squid, mackerel, sardine, and anchovy. “This was an unusual year. They were spawning way early and everywhere at the same time,” she explained, noting that her association’s research revealed more young squid in August than they usually see in the peak winter season. “It’s a phenomenon we haven’t seen before.”

Another twist this year was that the fishermen and processing centers were enlisted to help track the catch, filing reports daily so that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife would know how much fish was being harvested and wouldn’t shut the season early, as had been done in years past. “We were able to help the department and also maximize the value of the fishery,” said Pleschner-Steele, whose association spearheaded the unique relationship and one day hopes for electronic tracking. “It’s an uncommon partnership.”

Read the full article here.

Jul 24 2012

The Bite is On! Fishing for Salmon off California Coast is Best in Years

California Department of Fish and Game News Release
 

The Bite is On! Fishing for Salmon off California Coast is Best in Years

If your fishing gear has been in the garage collecting dust, now’s the time to pull it out because the salmon are here, and the bite is on!

Anglers and sport-fishing charters off the California coast are returning to the docks with full boats and happy customers as the strong ocean salmon bite continues, making 2012 one of the best salmon seasons in years.

Mild weather and good ocean conditions are contributing to what fishermen and Department of Fish and Game (DFG) officials hope will continue to be a robust year for ocean salmon fishing. Hopes are also high for big returns to California rivers this fall.

“Thanks to the favorable ocean conditions and plentiful food, all the reports we are receiving from the coast are very positive,” said DFG Northern Regional Manager Neil Manji. “The charter boats are coming back early enough to make two trips a day because everyone has been catching their limits.”

The daily bag and possession limit is two salmon per person and the minimum size limit is 20 inches.

To find out more visit the California Department of FIsh and Game.

 
May 26 2012

Point/Counterpoint: Monterey Harbormaster: No need to massively limit forage fishing

 
 
 
 

Note: A shorter version is scheduled to appear in the Monterey Herald.


By Steve Scheiblauer, Harbormaster for the city of Monterey

More than 150 years ago, immigrant Chinese fishermen launched sampans into the chilly waters of Monterey Bay to capture squid. The Bay also lured fishermen from Sicily and other Mediterranean countries, who brought round-haul nets to fish for sardines.

This was the beginning of the largest fishery in the western hemisphere — California’s famed “wetfish” industry, imprinted on our collective conscience by writers like John Steinbeck.

Who doesn’t remember Cannery Row?

It was the plentiful schools of fish — especially sardines that stretch from the Gulf of California to Alaska during cycles of abundance — that provided the opportunity for generations of enterprising fishing families to prosper. These families helped build not only Monterey, but the ports of many other California cities, like San Diego, San Francisco and San Pedro — the fishing hub of Los Angeles.

But now, this historic industry ì named for the fish that were canned wet from the sea — is under attack by extremist groups who claim overfishing is occurring. That allegation is false; fishermen have long recognized that a sustainable fishery was good for both people and fish.

When the sardine resource began its storied decline in the late 1940s, wetfish fishermen levied an assessment on their catch and contributed to the beginning of the California Cooperative Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI).

A cooperative effort between the National Marine Fisheries Service, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Department of Fish and Game, CalCOFI now is one of the preeminent research efforts worldwide.

Research has since documented the dynamic fluctuations in coastal pelagic “wetfish” stocks, including sardine and anchovy, which alternate their cycles of abundance — sardines favoring warm water epochs and anchovy preferring cold.

Core samples from an anaerobic trench in the Southern California Bight found alternating layers of sardine and anchovy scales over a period of 1,400 years. Turns out, sardine stocks would have declined naturally even without fishing pressure.

Today the wetfish industry maintains its commitment to research with cooperative efforts ongoing for both sardine and squid.

Even though the canneries are gone due to their inability to compete on a now-global marketing stage, our wetfish industry is still the backbone of California’s fishing economy — responsible for more than 80 percent of the volume and more than 40 percent of dockside value in 2010.

Fast forward to earlier this month, when an in-depth study by a panel of 13 hand-picked scientists provided recommendations on policies to protect forage fish — like anchovy, sardines and market squid — that larger species feed on. The study by the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force concluded that overfishing of forage species is unfortunately occurring on a global scale.

But interestingly, these scientists also identified the West Coast as different, noting that California is “ahead of other parts of the world in how it manages some forage fish.” The region has “stricter monitoring and more conservative limits that could serve as a buffer against future crashes.”

The Lenfest Report provides a strong case that forage fish are managed better in California and the Northern California Current than anywhere else in the world. Overall, forage fisheries here account for less than two percent of total forage production (including both fished and unfished stocks), leaving 98 percent for other marine life.

Knowledgeable people understand that this is no accident. Fishing families have worked and are working with regulators to conserve California’s fisheries and coastal waters.

In fact, after a 20-year moratorium on sardine fishing, California adopted strict fishing regulations when the sardine resource rebounded. The federal government assumed management of coastal pelagic species in 1999 and approved a visionary management strategy for the west coast “forage” fish harvest, maintaining at least 75 percent of the fish in the ocean to ensure a resilient core biomass. The sardine protection rate is even higher at about 90 percent.

Even so, some environmental groups are calling for deep and unnecessary cutbacks in sardine fishing in California, as well as substantial harvest reductions in other forage fish fisheries, including herring, anchovies and squid.

Touting studies with faulty calculations, activists are lobbying federal regulators to massively limit fishing, if not ban these fisheries outright.

Apparently the facts don’t matter to groups with an anti-fishing agenda. Their rhetoric leaves those not familiar with the fishing industry with the impression that overfishing is a huge problem in California.

We hope decision-makers will see through the rhetoric when developing harvest policy for California’s historic, and still important, wetfish fisheries.

 
Note: The opinion piece above was written to counterpoint an editorial that was also published  in The Salinas Californian. You can access the debate online via  TheCalifornian.
 
Apr 7 2012

Conservation in the Anthropocene: A Breakthrough Journal Debate

In their Breakthrough Journal essay, “Conservation in the Anthropocene,” Peter Kareiva, Michelle Marvier, and Robert Lalasz showed that conservation is losing the war to protect nature despite winning the battle to create parks and game preserves. While the number of protected areas has risen, species in wild places have fallen. Conservationists must shed their 19th Century vision of pristine nature, the authors wrote, and seek a new vision, one of “a planet in which nature exists amidst a wide variety of modern, human landscapes.”

In a new Breakthrough debate, a host of passionate 21st Century conservationists, including Kierán SucklingPaul RobbinsRay HilbornLisa Hayward, and Barbara Martinez, face off with the authors over the resilience of nature, corporate partners, and the state of conservation today.

Of particular interest is the commentary submitted by Professor Ray Hilborn. You can read his response below, or click here to see Breakthrough Journal’s full debate.

 


MARINE PARKS ARE FISHY

Ray Hilborn

By Ray Hilborn

In “Conservation in the Anthropocene,” Peter Kareiva, Robert Lalasz, and Michelle Marvier argue that conservation needs to move beyond parks and protected areas. They stress that ecosystems are generally resilient to perturbation, and rather than being irreparably damaged by the slightest anthropogenic impact, ecosystems can both support biodiversity and produce sustainable goods and services. While their arguments and examples are drawn from terrestrial ecosystems, much of their article is relevant to marine ecosystems, my field of study.

Marine ecosystems are the new frontier for conservation. And much of the funding for new scientific work has been directed towards the establishment of protected areas. It’s important to note that while marine and terrestrial ecosystems share much in common, there are differences. One fundamental difference is the nature of human use. In terrestrial ecosystems, a dominant form of use is agriculture, which essentially rips out native ecosystems and replaces them with exotic species: crops, tree plantations, or grasses for grazing. Agriculture makes no pretense about preserving natural ecosystems.

In contrast, in marine ecosystems, we attempt to sustainably harvest the natural ecosystem. We leave the lower trophic levels—primary producers and most of their consumers—untouched, and exploit only the higher trophic levels. This has profound consequences. It means that even if the dreams of protecting 10 percent of the world’s ocean, as set out in the 1992 Convention on Biodiversity, were to come true, most marine biodiversity will remain outside the boundaries. The struggle to maintain biodiversity is in the total anthropocene ocean; it will never be achieved through protected areas.

The marine conservation movement has been slow to grasp this. Similarly, it has failed to see that closing areas to fishing does not eliminate fishing pressure, it simply moves it. When an area is closed, fishing efforts concentrate outside protected areas. Consequently, simple comparisons of abundance inside and outside of reserves as a measure of “success” are meaningless. The salient question to ask is what happens to the total abundance.

One study sought to answer this question by tracking trends in abundance inside and outside of a set of reserves established in the California Channel Islands.1 Of the species targeted by commercial and recreational fishing, abundance went up inside reserves and down on the outside. Since 80 percent of the habitat is outside of the reserves, the data suggest that the total abundance of the targeted fish species actually declined. The gains inside were more than offset by the decreases on the outside.

In the case of the Channel Islands reserves, the creation of a protected area had a negative impact on abundance. In many other cases, protected areas have little to no impact. Two of the most heralded successes of the marine conservation movement have been the establishment of large protected areas in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and the western Pacific US territories. If the measure of success is the amount of area proclaimed as protected, these are significant achievements. But if the objective is effective protection against real threats, the achievement is less because there was little, if any, human impact in those areas before protection.

There are many threats to marine ecosystems, including oil spills, exotic species, runoff from terrestrial sources, illegal fishing, excessive legal fishing, ocean acidification, and global warming. The marine parks movement does not recognize that most “protected areas” only “protect” from legal fishing, and not much else. Advocates argue that unfished ecosystems are more resilient to environmental perturbations such as exotic species, yet the same argument, if valid, must apply to areas outside of reserves. Since fishing pressure has been redirected to unprotected areas, those ecosystems ought to be more vulnerable to the same perturbation.

Kareiva et al. argue that the new conservation “requires conservation to embrace marginalized and demonized groups,” and perhaps no group has been so demonized by the environmental movement as fishermen. Terms like “roving bandits” and “rapers and pillagers” permeate the public discussion. But luckily this is changing. The new marine conservation movement recognizes that conserving biodiversity requires more than merely controlling fishing. Progressive NGOs are working with fishing groups rather than demonizing them, a transformation that has entered into in marine conservation debates that attempt to find new solutions to the environmental impacts of fishing.

Kareiva et al. close by stating, “Protecting biodiversity for its own sake has not worked. Protecting nature that is dynamic and resilient, that is in our midst rather than far away, and that sustains human communities—these are the ways forward now.” This is as true in the marine world as in the terrestrial. There is certainly a role for protected areas. But the bulk of marine biodiversity will always be in the dynamic areas outside of them, areas that must be sustainably managed as we go forward.

Ray Hilborn is a professor in the school of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington.

1. Hamilton, S. L., J. E. Caselle, D. P. Malone, and M. H. Carr. 2010. “Incorporating biogeography into evaluation of the Channel Islands marine reserve network.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0908091107.

 

Feb 14 2012

Feds Approve Ban on Cruise Ship Sewage Discharge

“This is a great day for the California coast, which is far too precious a resource to be used as a dumping ground,” said Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto). “This ‘No Discharge Zone’ – the largest in the nation – protects our coastal economy, our environment and our public health.”

Local beach off Crissy Field in San Francisco, CA. Courtesy of the U.S. EPA.

Written by Dan Bacher | Staff Writer

The federal government on February 9 approved a landmark California proposal banning the discharge of more than 22 million gallons of treated vessel sewage to shorelines and shallow marine waters in California every year, drawing praise from environmental and shipping industry groups alike.

U.S. EPA’s Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld signed a rule that will finalize EPA’s decision and approve a state proposal to ban all sewage discharges from large cruise ships and most other large ocean-going ships to state marine waters along California’s 1,624 mile coast from Mexico to Oregon and surrounding major islands.

The action established a new federal regulation banning even treated sewage from being discharged in California’s marine waters.

“This is an important step to protect California’s coastline,” said Governor Jerry Brown. “I want to commend the shipping industry, environmental groups and U.S. EPA for working with California to craft a common sense approach to keeping our coastal waters clean.”

“By approving California’s ‘No Discharge Zone,’ EPA will prohibit more than 20 million gallons of vessel sewage from entering the state’s coastal waters,” said Jared Blumenfeld. “Not only will this rule help protect important marine species, it also benefits the fishing industry, marine habitats and the millions of residents and tourists who visit California beaches each year.”

This action strengthens protection of California’s coastal waters from the adverse effects of sewage discharges from a growing number of large vessels, according to an announcement from the the U.S. EPA.

Read the rest of the story on Alternet.

 

Jan 25 2012

Plans Set for March National Fishing Rally in D.C.

 

By Richard Gaines | Staff Writer

 

Commercial and recreational fishing interests today announced plans for a March 21 mass demonstration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., to energize the push for amending the law that directs the regulation of America’s fisheries, a little more than two years after the 2010 “United We Fish” rally turned up the national heat on regulatory and enforcement issues.

The 2012 “Keep Fishermen Fishing” rally was announced this morning in a release that focuses on the organizers’ foes — “a handful of mega-foundations and the anti-fishing ENGOs (environmental non-government organizations) they support to drive fishermen off the water.”

To do that, demonstration organizers contend, nonprofit giants such as Environmental Defense Fund have influenced the government to misinterpret the 1976 Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries and Conservation Act, which was amended significantly in 1996 and 2006.

Since the first mass rally, which drew as many as 5,000 participants on Feb. 23, 2010, the fisheries policies of the Obama administration — embodied by NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, who came to office from academia and a board of director’s post with EDF, have produced fierce resistance on the water and in Congress to the green-government power bloc.

Among the changes sought is the flexibility of time frames for rebuilding stocks, rather than clamping down fishing limits organizers say unduly harm the industry and fishing communities.

 

Read the rest of the article on Gloucester Times.

 

 

Jan 9 2012

U.S. tightens fishing policy, setting 2012 catch limits for all managed species

New restrictions on U.S. fisheries. - Photo courtesy of NOAA.

By Juliet Eilperin | Enviromental Reporter

In an effort to sustain commercial and recreational fishing for the next several decades, the United States this year will become the first country to impose catch limits for every species it manages, from Alaskan pollock to Caribbean queen conch.

Although the policy has attracted scant attention outside the community of those who fish in America and the officials who regulate them, it marks an important shift in a pursuit that has helped define the country since its founding.

Unlike most recent environmental policy debates, which have divided neatly along party lines, this one is about a policy that was forged under President George W. Bush and finalized with President Obama’s backing.

“It’s something that’s arguably first in the world,” said Eric Schwaab, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s assistant administrator for fisheries. “It’s a huge accomplishment for the country.”

Five years ago, Bush signed a reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which dates to the mid-1970s and governs all fishing in U.S. waters. A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers joined environmental groups, some fishing interests and scientists to insert language in the law requiring each fishery to have annual catch limits in place by the end of 2011 to end overfishing.

Although NOAA didn’t meet the law’s Dec. 31 deadline — it has finalized 40 of the 46 fishery management plans that cover all federally managed stocks — officials said they are confident that they will have annual catch limits in place by the time the 2012 fishing year begins for all species. (The timing varies depending on the fish, with some seasons starting May 1 or later.) Some fish, such as mahi-mahi and the prize game fish wahoo in the southeast Atlantic, will have catch limits for the first time.

 

Read the rest of the story on the Washington Post.

 

 

Oct 7 2011

Can Smartphones Help Stop Illegal Fishing in California?

By 

When venturing into the waters along California’s 1,100 miles of coastline, at times it can be difficult to determine which areas are protected — where fishing and other recreational activities are restricted or limited.

Now outdoorsmen who carry a mobile device can access a searchable Department of Fish and Game website that maps the locations of the marine protected areas (MPAs).

“In general, whether you’re a hunter or a fisher or anything else, you should be pretty well aware of where you plan to go and what the regulations are that apply for the species you’re trying to take before you ever step out the door,” said Eric Miller, a department staff programmer analyst.

But those who aren’t up to speed, the new website atwww.dfg.ca.gov/m/MPA  has been optimized for iPhone, iPad and Android.

The site allows fishermen, divers, ocean goers and the general public to search for current MPAs by name, county or general area. Officials said the site will be updated if and when new MPAs go into effect.

Through an interactive map, users can locate an MPA and find information about its boundaries and regulations. According to the department, some MPAs prohibit fishing or collecting of any kind — so the mobile site might help users avoid those mistakes.

“One of the cooler features of this website is that you can actually get your location and then see where you are on a map and then see if you are in an MPA, or if any MPAs are around you,” said Aaron Del Monte, a department staff programmer analyst.

For best results, the Department of Fish and Game recommends that the phone’s GPS feature is turned on.

Users who access the site out in the open ocean can track their current location through the site’s map function, with the mobile device’s GPS supporting the mobile site.

But can fishermen actually use the new mobile website in ocean waters?

Read the rest of the story from Government Technology.

Jul 5 2011

Fish and Game Commission Votes on Effective Date for South Coast MPAs

Media Contact:

Jordan Traverso, DFG Communications

The California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) today selected Oct. 1, 2011 as the effective date for implementation of the marine protected areas (MPAs) in Southern California.

In a 4-1 vote, Commissioners selected this day to better inform affected ocean users of the new regulations in the South Coast Study Region, which spans from Point Conception in Santa Barbara County to the U.S./Mexico border. Commissioner Daniel Richards was the only vote in opposition.

On Dec. 15, 2010 the Commission adopted regulations to create a suite of MPAs in this study region. Developed under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) planning process, this network of 49 MPAs and three special closures covers approximately 354 square miles of state waters and represents approximately 15 percent of the region. The regulatory package is being prepared for the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) and the date selected today allows time for OAL review and approval, finalizing the lawmaking process.

For more information on the south coast MPAs or MLPA, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/southcoast.asp.