Recreational Fisheries Roundtable Summaries 2021
Part of a series of national public discussions with recreational fishing constituents
NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region and the Northwest and Southwest Fisheries Science Centers hosted two recreational fisheries roundtables focused on maintaining our contacts with the recreational fishing community and refreshing our understanding of key areas of interest, priorities, and/or concerns. The roundtables were held on June 16, 2021, with one focused on the Pacific Northwest and the other on California. Major topics of discussion revolved around continued access and opportunities for recreational fishing.
Anglers expressed interest in being more involved in both data collection and habitat restoration efforts. It was expressed that NOAA Fisheries could do more to promote existing partnerships with angler organizations that collect fisheries data to build trust and collaboration with fisheries scientists and managers. Participants highlighted the progress on past topics of discussion, including those at the 2018 National Recreational Fisheries Summit, and felt continued engagement would increase trust by, and collaboration with, the angling community. Participants also requested scientific and economic informational updates on our West Coast fisheries, such information on NOAA Fisheries’ national webpages, with links to the Regional and Center webpages to provide for easier navigation. Participants also noted that holding meetings virtually has provided more opportunities for anglers to be involved in discussions over the past year, and encourage continuation of remote access for participants to engage in federal processes.
Participants noted that timeliness and availability of data, including biological data of harvested fish, was potentially limiting angler opportunity. Participants noted that data collection via smartphones or other electric means could cater to a younger generation of anglers and provide more and timely data than existing sampling methods. Participants also noted that additional sources of data would support stock assessment accuracy.
Participants expressed support for additional salmon smolt tagging and in-river sonar devices for in-river monitoring. Participants also noted the need for bar crossing and weather data to increase safety of boaters.
Participants also noted a lack of effective deterrence methods for pinnipeds.
Participants expressed their support for continued access to fishing opportunities. Competing ocean uses (e.g., wind farms, aquaculture, and, to an extent, President Biden’s Executive Order on the climate crisis, known as “30 by 30”) were of concern, and participants voiced support for continued access to these ocean areas. Participants also noted that time on the water, access to fishing grounds, and production of, and access to, hatchery fish were critical to continued fishing opportunities.
Participants noted that maintaining or increasing flexibility in management is needed to respond to any potential negative impacts due to changing climate conditions and stock conditions, and that industry could support data collection efforts to get us to “climate-ready” fisheries.
Participants communicated the importance of timeliness and flexibility in changing regulations, while noting that regulatory changes can be slow. For groundfish, in particular, participants discussed the success of Rockfish Conservation Areas in rebuilding stocks and the need for expanding access to these closed areas. Participants also discussed the need to better prioritize and plan for stock assessments, including identifying priority species for data collection. It was noted that a regular schedule of assessing stocks may minimize disruptions to fishing plans, including operations of Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels (CPFVs). It was also noted that state-level regulations related to engine emission standards may severely impact the CPFV fleet and access to charter fishing opportunities. Participants noted that cross-agency coordination is essential for productive fisheries.
Participants expressed concern over sufficient funding for hatchery production at aging facilities. Participants also highlighted insufficient funding for law enforcement staff, as well as for the science and management of recreationally-important groundfish stocks (i.e., staff support for stock assessments and management measures implementation), though it was noted that NOAA Fisheries has made great strides in stock assessment capacity. The efforts by the recreational fishing community to collaborate with NOAA Fisheries and state agencies to collect data for use in management were highlighted as positive angler contributions to ensuring sustainable fisheries.
Participants expressed concerns with various impacts to salmon populations coast wide, and communicated a need to address these issues to retain viable salmon fisheries.
Participants also noted that in-stream water flows and in-river management in California, a commitment by NMFS to reinitiate the Central Valley Project and State Water Project Biological Opinion, and the funding and operation of hatcheries West Coast Region wide, were critical to continued fishing opportunities. Several participants requested NOAA Fisheries act proactively to advance conservation hatchery practices in California’s Central Valley to rebuild the declining natural-origin populations listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Participants also expressed concerns of habitat degradation, and a willingness to participate in habitat restoration projects that would benefit salmon as well as other species like ESA-listed groundfish stocks in Puget Sound. Participants were further concerned with continued predation of salmonids by marine mammals and birds, in addition to the lack of effective deterrence methods, as noted above.