Pixel Tracker

Thursday, January 24 , 2019, 1:55 am | Fair 42º


Captain’s Log: Northern Neighbors Reeling from Decision to Close Waterways to Fishing

Watching our neighbors deal with a tough situation brings home powerful messages that we may need to heed.

Our CenCal and NorCal California neighbors are reeling under the real-world impacts of the California Fish & Game Commission shutting down fishing in coastal rivers and streams from roughly Big Sur all the way to the Oregon border.

Such actions affect thousands of jobs and all of the people who depend on the economic driving force of those thousands of jobs. That was a harsh measure. Yet, many (not all) people — even many of those directly affected — are nodding their heads and battening down their financial hatches to weather this financial storm.

The action was deemed necessary because in this drought, if we do not get any more water into our streams and rivers, steelhead and salmon will not be able to enter the coastal waterways to move upstream and spawn. Many prime spawning areas may be high and dry. If the relatively few fish already in the waterways are all we have to depend on for the annual spawn, then we’d better protect them temporarily and give them every opportunity to make as many babies as they possibly can.

The action is not quite done yet, because the Fish & Game Commission has to run such decisions by the California Office of Administrative Law, whose job it is to make sure the action can stand the test of law.

Naturally, within days after the Fish & Game Commission rapped its gavel and passed it to the OAL, the rains came. I’m told that Bodega Bay, for example, had nearly 7 inches of rain in the past week. That is just the kind of rain needed to get the water flows up so that steelhead massed in the ocean near the river mouths can move upstream, rather than being gobbled up by uncontrolled populations of sea lions.

Does this mean that the OAL now has to decide whether it makes sense to continue with the process? Thankfully, no. OAL staff do not want to make wildlife management decisions. The Fish & Game Commission can revisit the decision, in light of climactic changes.

Thinking about how we handle wildlife and droughts in SoCal, we can learn some lessons from our northern friends. We don’t need to shut down our streams and rivers because steelhead are already protected locally. But we can certainly revisit how we can help our sparse population of steelhead by working on our streams to make them more user — fish being the users — friendly.

The work done (and more needs to be done) along the lower stretch of San Jose Creek, alongside Kellogg Avenue in Goleta is a prime example of striving to make it easier for anadromous fish to make it upstream to where they can spawn. More work like that, please!

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.