Tuesday, February 20 , 2018, 3:41 am | Fair 40º


Captain’s Log: A ‘Reel’ Success Story — Careful Management Brings Back Fish Stocks

Santa Barbara resident Larry Reiche hefts a big lingcod he caught near Santa Rosa Island aboard the WaveWalker charter boat. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara resident Larry Reiche hefts a big lingcod he caught near Santa Rosa Island aboard the WaveWalker charter boat. (Capt. David Bacon / Noozhawk photo)

Good fisheries management is a wonderful thing, and we’ve got some solid successes to celebrate. At the same time, we must continue to be diligent managers and stewards of the precious resources.

People who fish put their money into fisheries management by buying fishing licenses and by supporting organizations such as the Coastal Conservation Association of California.

Anglers want abundant fish and access to them. Simply stated, that is the goal of tried and true fisheries management. The National Marine Fisheries Service keeps a list of fish stocks that have been carefully managed back to abundance.

It is an impressive list, but it's not complete because hard work by angler organizations has added species that once again are abundant through methods such as raising fish in grow-out pends and releasing them into the wild. This has been very successful with white seabass, and now California halibut are being hatched and preparations are underway to rear them and then release them into the ocean.

The NMFS list is divided by national regions and totals 41 species, each of which had a tailored Fishery Management Plan that may have included restricted access such as species closures or reduced bag limits for a period of time. The goal of an FMP is to get a species back to abundance so that recreational anglers can fish for them again and keep the family dinner table going with healthy, fresh fish and so that commercial fishers can bring them to market.

For the West Coast, here is the NMFS list of species declared rebuilt and the year of the declaration:

» Pacific whiting (2004) — important commercially

» Lingcod (2005) — important recreationally and commercially

» Chinook salmon (NorCal coast, Klamath fall run, 2011) — recent drought brings questions

» Widow rockfish (2011) — important recreationally and commercially

» Coho salmon (Washington coast, 2011) — important recreationally

» Coho salmon (Western Strait of Juan de Fuca, 2012) — important recreationally

» Chinook salmon (Sacramento River fall run, 2013) — recent drought brings questions

» Canary rockfish (2015) — important recreationally and commercially

» Petrale sole (2015) — important recreationally and commercially

» Southern tanner crab (Bering Sea, 2007 and 2012)

» Blue king crab (Saint Mathews Island, 2009)

» Snow crab (Bering Sea, 2011)

There are some incredibly delicious critters on that list and some of them, like widow rockfish and canary rockfish, open the way to regaining deeper waters that were closed to protect certain species.

The rest of the list, which includes different national regions, also includes species so tasty that it makes a person salivate. We’re doing good things with fisheries management through the Pacific Fishery Management Council and the California Fish and Game Commission. The good management does not include Marine Protected Areas, because those are not about fisheries management.

— 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.

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