Feature Article: Striped Bass Decision

Sacramento: Striped bass decision postponed again after anglers pack F & G Commission meeting

By DAVE HURLEY/WON Staff WriterPublished: Dec 26, 2019

SACRAMENTO — A decision to revise striped bass policies in California waters was again postponed during the Dec. 5 Fish and Game Commission meeting following a huge showing of sportsmen and experts testifying that stripers were not the cause of declining salmon populations.

The Dec. 5 meeting of the California Fish and Game Commission was the third in a series of meetings starting this past June in which fishermen from throughout northern California packed the house to express concern about revisions to the 1996 policy for striped bass.

This meeting was supposed to finalize the revisions to the policy from three drafts, and the commission was expected to select one of the three drafts as the new policy.

After some preliminary remarks from Ari Corman, Wildlife Advisor for the Commission, Commission President Eric Sklar and Charles Bonham, Director of the California DFW, the public comment session began with some strict guidelines. Dr. David Ostrach, Dr. Cynthia Le-Doux-Bloom, and Dr. Peter Moyle, scientists who have intimate knowledge of the striped bass, were allowed 5 minutes while James Stone of the Nor-Cal Guides and Sportsman’s Association was allowed 3 minutes, as were representatives from the agricultural industry.

After the round of initial public comment, a brief recess was held, and any remaining members of the public who had completed a speaker card were allowed one minute. Several speakers, including myself, rushed through our comments to fit them in within one minute.

After the final comment from the public, the commissioners made their comments, and President Sklar stated that a motion was unnecessary to postpone the adoption of the revised policy, and the commission did not formally vote on a postponement, although it was reported that “After hearing from numerous Delta anglers, the Commission voted to postpone adoption of a Delta Fisheries Management Policy and potential amendments to the Commission’s Striped Bass Policy to a future meeting.”

The future meeting is now scheduled for February 21, 2020 in Sacramento.

The Nor-Cal Guides and Sportsman’s Association was instrumental in procuring the three scientists, and all presented research refuting the effect of predation on salmon species as the cause for the decline of salmon in the Sacramento-Delta.

Dr. LeDoux-Bloom, a retired professor from Humboldt State University, made the following conclusions based upon research:

• “Female striped bass reproductive physiology, coupled with fishing regulations, continue to contribute to population decline.

• Changes should not be made to the Striped Bass Policy until credible studies show that the population and fishery are not in danger of collapse.

• Consideration should be given to increasing the minimum size limit to 24 inches

• It is not defensible to blame striped bass on the collapse of the Sacramento River salmon population.

• Too many studies have shown that entrapment into the Central Valley and State Water Projects is the major source of fish mortality.

• The impact of predation by fish-eating birds, and aquatic and marine mammals remain unstudied, although their populations have increased since the 1960’s and 70’s, while the striped bass population has declined.

• While I appreciate the recent efforts and changes to the draft Delta Fish Management Plan toward science credibility, I do not support any changes to the Striped Bass Policy.”

Anglers are once again asked to regroup for the next meeting on February 21, and in the interim period of time, the stakeholders committee is anticipated to meet once again to work out alternatives to the draft Striped Bass Policy.

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