Recreational Fisheries Roundtable Summaries 2020
Part of a series of national public discussions with recreational fishing constituents
The NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, and Northwest Fisheries Science Center hosted two Recreational Fisheries Roundtables with saltwater recreational fishermen in Salem, Oregon, on February 23, 2020, and in Rohnert Park, California, on March 3, 2020. These were part of a series of national public discussions the agency had with recreational fishing constituents this year.
Rohnert Park, CA Discussion Summary
Sacramento River Chinook salmon
Participants and NOAA Fisheries discussed two Sacramento River Chinook salmon species: fall-run, which is managed under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and is a target stock in the ocean salmon fisheries, and winter-run, which is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Participants noted a declining fall-run with variations and reductions in stream flows contributing to mortality. Participants noted that variations and reductions in water flows during the fall, once winter-run fry have fully emerged from their redds are not sufficient for supporting the redds of fall-run Chinook salmon, which need more stable flows to reduce stranding. Participants discussed NOAA Fisheries’ cold water and flow prescription modeling work underway to protect both runs and a focus on Sacramento River habitat restoration (e.g., increasing instream structure, input of large wood, and restoring side channels) for the benefit of all Chinook salmon (winter, spring, and fall runs). There was also discussion on essential fish habitat and mitigation requirements.
Tributary management (Butte Creek)
Participants acknowledged dewatering and drought impacts to salmon while raising the issue of a larger percentage of returning Chinook salmon entering the Butte Creek (tributary of the Sacramento River) due to its lower temperature than the mainstem. Participants noted that a plan could be implemented, similar to Clear Creek, whereby a barrier prevents unspawned fish from progressing up the tributary once the tributary’s hatchery has received enough fish needed for its operation, thereby diverting unspawned fish in the tributary back to the mainstem where spawning could occur in more suitable habitat.
Economic, Data, and other Workload Considerations
Participants noted that economic data for West Coast recreational fisheries is lacking and can be a roadblock to analyzing potential regulatory proposals for groundfish and salmon. Economic data are included in the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (PFMC) salmon Pre-season 2 and 3 reports, used to inform the annual salmon fisheries management measures. However, participants thought the PFMC focused more on conservation objectives. It was further noted that prioritizing recreational issues, and groundfish measures in particular, remains a challenge. It was acknowledged that the PFMC has a significant workload but that minor modifications could make discussing and analyzing those issues more likely, thereby potentially providing additional fishing opportunities. Participants further noted that more time between groundfish stock assessments can result in fewer opportunities. Participants also noted that there are often priorities among priorities for research and data, and that direct guidance from NOAA Fisheriesto the states and other data collection partners on its priorities, similar to the PFMC Research and Data Needs document, would be helpful.
Participants noted low catch per unit effort (CPUE) of Pacific halibut catch by private and charter anglers out of Eureka, California, attributing the lower CPUE to nearshore trawl fishing. Participants inquired about the possibility of a trawl exclusion zone in the nearshore area around Eureka.
Salem, OR Discussion Summary
Hatchery salmon operations
Participants noted the tension between reducing hatchery impacts on wild salmon populations and providing a sufficient amount of salmon to support Southern Resident killer whale recovery. Participants were concerned with hatchery operations being constrained by litigation and NOAA Fisheries having enough resources.
Depredation of salmon
Participants noted that depredation of salmon by pinnipeds and birds remains a concern. The participants recognized the constraints under the Marine Mammal Protection Act while also recognizing the last revision to the Act to allow removal of individual pinnipeds having a significant negative effect on ESA-listed salmon and steelhead in the Willamette Falls vicinity. The participants also recognized the Migratory Bird Treaty Act constraints and necessary international cooperation, and they noted that it complicates efforts to address the problem.
Chinook salmon size
Participants expressed concern with the decreasing size of returning Chinook salmon in both hatchery and wild fish. In addition to smaller at-age fish, participants expressed a concern over a change in age structure, noting fewer older fish returning. Participants noted there are few management strategies in place to address these trends and requested that NOAA Fisheries pay more attention to this trend.
Nearshore groundfish data
Participants noted fishery dependent data is collected for nearshore groundfish but that there is a further need for fisheries independent data given constraining regulations that resulted from the latest stock assessments. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife noted that they are assessing the possibility of a nearshore fisheries independent survey consisting of hydroacoustic and a video ROV to supplement the data used in stock assessments.
Alternative management measures
Participants discussed multiple alternative management strategies including a groundfish allocation split between the north and south coasts in Oregon. Participants noted a disparity in weather and opportunities between the two areas. There was also a discussion on alternative strategies for white sturgeon and Pacific halibut to increase opportunities and avoid derby-style management.