Commission voices concern about oversize sturgeon fishery | Gamefishin.com

Commission voices concern about oversize sturgeon fishery

Discussion in 'Let's Talk Fishin'! The best fishin' community on' started by Anonymous, Jun 18, 2011.

  1. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    For those of you that keep reading some of the member's opinions on this site that the oversize sturgeon they released while fishing with a guide were released "unharmed", you need to read this article from the Columbian in 2003 that has a lot of oversize sturgeon facts and data before you make an educated decision whether or not the controversial fishery is as innocent as some make claim.

    Commission voices concern about oversize sturgeon fishery

    Thursday, October 9, 2003
    By ALLEN THOMAS, Columbian staff writer

    OLYMPIA -- The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has sent a strong signal it wants a reduction in the catch-and-release fishery for oversize sturgeon near Bonneville Dam.
    "Nobody wants to see this end, because it's a multi-million-dollar industry, it's a very popular fun thing to do for so many people impassioned about it, it's almost like a religion,'' said Dawn Reynolds, a commission member from Pullman. "But the fish community really needs to be looking at this muy pronto.''
    Reynolds' comments, and similar statements from other commission members, were voiced Friday after getting a briefing on four years of research about sturgeon and sport fishing in the Columbia Gorge.
    Sport fishermen are allowed to keep sturgeon between 42 and 60 inches during specified seasons.
    For decades, there was a relatively small catch-and-release fishery targeting on oversize sturgeon that concentrate and spawn in the early summer in the Columbia Gorge.
    It was controversial, but was limited to mostly a handful of bank anglers.
    Starting in 1992, participation in that catch-and-release fishery skyrocketed when boat anglers and guides got into the act, Brad James, state sturgeon biologist, told the commission.
    "Anglers and guides were getting very sophisticated targeting these fish,'' James said.
    Fishing for oversize sturgeon ramps up in mid-May and runs through July. The river between Beacon Rock and Bonneville Dam is closed May 1 through July 15 to boat fishing, but the fleet still concentrates downstream of Beacon Rock.
    The fast water just downstream of Bonneville Dam is the only known sturgeon spawning grounds in the lower Columbia.
    State biologists plus researchers from Oregon State University have been studying the population size and handle of sturgeon between Rooster Rock and Bonneville Dam in late spring and summer since 2000.
    Research has included surveys for dead oversize fish along the shore. Gonad biopsies have been taken plus checks of sturgeon blood, urine and mucous collected from fish caught by sportsmen and in research gillnets.
    James said the researchers believe there are about 2,000 oversize sturgeon during any given spring in the Bonneville spawning area. About 6 percent are ripe, thus fewer than 150 spawn each spring, probably 100 or so females.
    In the wild, sturgeon spawn once every three to 11 years.
    Much of the information delivered to the commission was not encouraging. Among the data so far:
    * Weekly summer surveys along both the Washington and Oregon shores from Rooster Rock to Bonneville Dam and back find an average of about 20 oversize sturgeon carcasses a year. The numbers were 17 in 2002 and 38 this year, James said.
    * Sixteen percent of the sport-caught sturgeon sampled by the researchers had reabsorbed their eggs in the past two years. When stressed, spawning female sturgeon reabsorb their eggs. Sturgeon eggs are black. When a female has reabsorbed her eggs, there is residual black pigment in the gonad tissue.
    * Nine percent of the oversize sturgeon handled by sport fishermen had one hook scar and 36 percent had multiple hook scars. Thirteen percent had at least one leader protruding from their anal vent and 6 percent had multiple leaders protruding. One sturgeon had five leaders protruding.
    Researcher Molly Webb of Oregon State University said a decision on eliminating sport fishing for oversize sturgeon near Bonneville Dam is a policy decision for the Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife commissions.
    She said she realizes the economic livelihood of guides and businesses depends on the oversize sturgeon fishery, but added "something definitely needs to be done to protect these magnificent fish.''
    Russ Cahill, a commission member from Olympia, said the states can't wait another 20 years for more data before acting.
    "I think the right thing to do is err on the side of caution until we have adequate information,'' said Will Roehl of Bellingham, commission chairman. "Information I'm hearing at this point is we have to take action quickly.''
    Commission member Bob Tuck of Selah said the small number of female spawning sturgeon is "sobering.''
    "We're talking about 100 to 120 mature adult spawning female sturgeon below Bonneville Dam supporting the entire population,'' Tuck said.
     
  2. HntnFsh

    HntnFsh New Member

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    Hmmm... sounds a lot like some of the comments I made,and quoted in a previous thread.

    This could get interesting.
     
  3. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Joint State Accord on 2006-2009 Columbia River Sturgeon Fishery Management

     
  4. Chuck S

    Chuck S Active Member

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    "I think the right thing to do is err on the side of caution until we have adequate information,'' said Will Roehl of Bellingham


    What a shock ... trying to make a decision based on mis or non information. Go figure.


    How about stop killing sturgeon first ... then you can try to flush your blame on those of us who enjoy the cnr oversize. Show me some scientific data that proves this fishery is damaging and not some newspaper report...then we can debate.



    These are about the dumbest statements I can think of ... do you really think we are lifting 400lb fish out of the water? :roll:


    • Limit catch to one oversize sturgeon per angler per day
    • Minimize the amount of handling time per oversize fish
    • Keep the fish in the water while being photographed and released
    • Use and maintain proper gear to minimize break-offs, limit handling stress,
    improve reproductive success and reduce mortality
    Best Fishing Practices protocols and the purpose of the program shall be posted on
    informational signs at boat launches used by participants in the fishery.



    What a fricken joke. clown:
     
  5. fishslave

    fishslave Well-Known Member

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    People have. They will take more time playing the fish to get her to shore so that several people can lift her out of the water for a picture.

    As to the rest that you refuse to believe, it's still in the oversize's best interests, even if you're in denial about that.

    And if former Commissioner Will Roehl cared about sturgeon of any size or any other NW fish, I'll eat your nastiest hat.
     
  6. STSGreen

    STSGreen Active Member

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    Tup: Tup: clap: clap: Tup: Tup:

    Chuck, because they have NO scientific data they blame it on EVERYTHING and EVERYTHING must be the problem.
     
  7. Cowlitzfisherman

    Cowlitzfisherman Well-Known Member

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    I think that I will side with fishslave views on this one! :eek: :eek: :eek:

    I wonder what the actual mortality rate really is for these fish. They say that the mortality rate for other fresh water species such as steelhead in catch and release fisheries can be as high as up to 10% and the catch and release "fishers" actually claim that it's more in the 3-5% range, how long would it take to kill off these large breeders after being caught day after day?

    Even if the C&R fishery doesn't kill these huge breeders themselves, one has to wonder what the stress does to there spawning success. Most all creatures are affected by stress in their spawning stage cycles and it's hard to believe that sturgeon would be that much different.

    Here is something else to consider... that also may add to the impacts of these fish.
    http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/conten ... a932083679

    Abstract
    The Atlantic Sturgeon Status Review Team has recommended that the Secretary of Commerce list the New York Bight distinct population segment of Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus), which includes the Delaware River and Hudson River populations, as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. Between 2005 and 2008, a total of 28 Atlantic sturgeon mortalities were reported in the Delaware Estuary. Sixty-one percent of the mortalities reported were of adult size and 50% of the mortalities resulted from apparent vessel strikes. The remainder of the mortalities were too decomposed to ascertain the cause of death, but the majority were likely the result of vessel strikes. For small remnant populations of Atlantic sturgeon, such as that in the Delaware River, the loss of just a few individuals per year due to anthropogenic sources of mortality, such as vessel strikes, may continue to hamper restoration efforts. An-egg-per-recruit analysis demonstrated that vessel-strike mortalities could be detrimental to the population if more than 2.5% of the female sturgeon are killed annually. We report on our observations of vessel-strike mortalities in the Delaware Estuary, discuss the possible implications for the Delaware River population, and recommend further research
     
  8. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    A couple thoughts to keep in mind.

    Even if the CnR mortality is low (let's say 1%) we are dealing with a very long lived critter and low annual mortlaity rates over 50 years adds up to a huge impact.

    A huge unanswered question is how vulunerable those released fish are to such things a sea lion predation; again any increase can be huge. It would be scary if they are anywhere as vulunerable to such predation as say salmon in various fisheries.

    Once one looks at the list of poential/probable impacts on those oversize fish -
    1) Stress impacts on successful spawning
    2) cummulative angling impacts/mortality
    3) Increased predation rates, etc

    How can anyone suggest that this fishery conitnue if the goal is to err on the side of the resource and the long term health of the potential fisheries. If indeed the WDFW commission does step up to the plate and addresses this issue in a postive matter (closing entirely or limiting the over size fishery to a period outside of the 3 months prior to spawning and spawning period) I for one will welcome that action and be giving them a stand ovation!

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  9. slabhunter

    slabhunter New Member

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    Funny the 2003 date on that article. Wasn't that the same year the slot limit was changed?

    The bottom of the of the slot was altered to provide a better size sturgeon for the gillneters. Not the top end wich would protect/recruit more spawners?

    Since that article the sanctuary has been expanded to protect more prespawners staging in the area, down to Daymarker "82."
     
  10. Trent

    Trent Active Member

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    Relax folks... oversize sturgeon fishing may have become popular for a short time in the early 2000's. Back then it was legal to remove fish from the water and getting the famous beach photo was popular. It is no longer legal to remove fish from the water and there is NO "FLEET" fishing for oversize anymore... if there ever was. We fished the "peak" of the oversize sturgeon fishery this year, and in spite of plenty of Internet advertising, at the most we observerd 4 other boats fishing for oversize between Bonneville and Camas. Of those we observed only one other boat hook up with an oversize briefly, before they long line released it.

    A quote from the article BTBW posted said, "James said the researchers believe there are about 2,000 oversize sturgeon during any given spring in the Bonneville spawning area. About 6 percent are ripe, thus fewer than 150 spawn each spring, probably 100 or so females."

    The reseachers numbers must have been way off back in 2003, because today Washington and Oregon biologists are claiming that about 750 adult oversize sturgeon are being killed by sealions below Bonneville every year. If there were only 2000 total, the population would have been destroyed by the sealions a long time ago!

    "Weekly summer surveys along both the Washington and Oregon shores from Rooster Rock to Bonneville Dam and back find an average of about 20 oversize sturgeon carcasses a year. The numbers were 17 in 2002 and 38 this year, James said. "

    Again, how surprising is that? Considering the fact that the sealions are killing as many as 750 adult oversize sturgeon per year! (I love the way they cleverly linked that fact with the subject of CnR sportfishing... as if there is any evidence the two are associated.) :roll:

    "Sixteen percent of the sport-caught sturgeon sampled by the researchers had reabsorbed their eggs in the past two years. When stressed, spawning female sturgeon reabsorb their eggs. Sturgeon eggs are black. When a female has reabsorbed her eggs, there is residual black pigment in the gonad tissue."

    As I posted in the other thread, recent studies have indicated that the main cause for sturgeon reabsorbing their eggs is due to low river flows. With this years flows, it would be interesting to check reabsorbtion rate... 0%?

    (Again, I love the way they cleverly linked these facts with the subject of CnR sportfishing... with no mention of other known causes.) :roll:

    "Thirteen percent had at least one leader protruding from their anal vent and 6 percent had multiple leaders protruding. One sturgeon had five leaders protruding."

    Only one of the oversize sturgeon that Paul caught this year had a leader protruding from it's anal vent, and it was way too light of mono to have been intended for oversize. It was most likely a salmon leader... or someone who brought a plastic butter knife to a gun fight.

    There's nothing more entertaining than watching people who are hardly, if ever on the water, speculate about what is happening out there....
     
  11. GoneCatchin

    GoneCatchin New Member

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    When is the state going to "get it"???

    Lets say the mortality is 1% of all the sturgeon caught by sports and 17% reabsorb the eggs.

    After 50 years you still don't have the damage that the seals and sealions do in 1 season below the damn.

    Please WDFW, continue to regulate this fishery and save the 1% while ignoring the 99% of the problem. :roll:
     
  12. fishguidebrian

    fishguidebrian New Member

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    Easy Solution, go Sturgeon Fishing, bring a gun and shoot some sea lions:) hahahha,< Wish we could!
     
  13. Chuck S

    Chuck S Active Member

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    Fully agree with many of you.

    How about we stop allowing the netting seasons on sturgeon altogether ... clap:

    How about placing a major reduction in the allowable keep while in "season" for not only sportfishers, but regulate how many a guide may put clients on for a "season" instead of the constant whoring it gets now on those fish we need to grow up.

    How about taking a serious stand on poachers of oversize who take them for their eggs only ...

    How about stop trying to force the blame on the sporties who are visiting places and spending money on small town economies while chasing fish for CNR until we have some facts together wink:

    So many questions ... hardly any answers.

    As for the sea lions ... time to thin the herd.
     
  14. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Trent, the OS fishery became highly exploited in the early 90’s, not the 2000’s.
    So add another 10 years of that fishery when it “skyrocketed�.
    And yes…the practice of stressing the ol’ ladies furthermore for picture taking session used to be legal and used to take place until the practice was banned.
    The point of that is to forewarn fishermen that it is illegal as to hopefully prevent such actions from taking place in the future.
    Obviously that was another issue of the OS fishermen that wasn’t considered in the best interest of spawners.

    Yes, the “fleet� fishery you mentioned has been down sized but this controversial fishery has been going on for decades as I’ve mentioned previously in several post and the long standing damage has already been done, and is still taking place on a smaller scale.
    Also, one of the reasons the harassment of OS sturgeon has tapered off is because many guides quit exploiting that fishery on their own realizing it wasn’t in the best interest of the resource.

    Your observations and other fishermen’s observations and opinions are not anything scientific whatsoever.
    The combined time spent with these critters by researchers on & off the water with tools at their disposal is far more revealing then that of fishermen.
    These researchers do include input from both sport & commercial fishermen also.


    I really don’t think you are smarter than all the state & federal biologist along with researchers from OSU with your math and ideas you think they may have missed.
    The statement says, “during any given spring in the Bonneville spawning area�, not total spawner populations.
    Those spawnwers are located throughout the Columbia and Wilamette rivers including tributaries like the Cowlitz.
    I also believe that sturgeon move between different river basins up & down the west coast via the ocean but am not sure about that.
    Not too mention that sturgeon are still being recruited into the OS population even if it is at a slow rate due to harvest, sea lion predation, C&R on smaller sturgeon, poaching, etc.

    Uh Trent…those dead oversize sturgeon had hook wounds, some even bled to death, many of them had leaders protruding out there nostrils, arseholes, or wherever…there isn’t any evidence?
    Come on buddy, remove thy blinders.
    Recent and ongoing studies do not eliminate that OS fisheries are harmful to the oversize spawning populations and in fact do show ample evidence that they are harmful.
    Common sense for most folks lead to the same coclusion no matter how much time they spend on the water.

    Here’s a couple quotes from a sturgeon biologist on a different site where I found this article yesterday through a Google search:

    Now normally biologist don’t pay much attention to “rumors� but she had her reasons to evidently.
    This would not surprise me the least as I find it no different than when I’ve read and been told in person by fishermen they intentionally lie to fish samplers about the amount of fish they caught or fish they were required to release.
    Anyway, just a rumor but I found it interesting.

    A reply this sturgeon biologist made regarding this same article.
    So that is her opinion and as I’ve stated many times on OS threads, I’ve yet to meet and talk to a sturgeon biologist on either side of the river (Oregon or Washington) that was impressed with the OS fishery.
    I’ve met Ruth in person and have talked to her many times through PM’s & emails over the years.
    She comes across to me as a very level headed person and unarguably cares about the resource.
    I realize that some of the avid anglers, guides and charter boat fishermen out there think they know more about fisheries, fish biology than the fisheries folks that work with data and science from all over the states and other countries on a full time basis, but I’ll stick to the science & data rather than a fisherman that thinks he knows what’s going on because he knows how to bait a hook and drop an anchor.

    And last, most of the anglers that replied to the other thread on the site where this was posted, expressed concern, some had already quit fishing OS before the article, and some decided with the cold, hard numbers, they would say goodbye to the fishery on their own.
    The overwhelming majority were against the fishery and felt it should be halted.

    2) A Frasier River guide posted a rather long & sweet reply “informing� the readers how great the Frasier River C&R fishery is (like a guide on this site has done multiple times), and how healthy the fishery is and C&R sturgeon fisheries are the way to go on the Frasier & Columbia rivers (even including a picture of a half dozen of his clients holding a 10’-12’+ sturgeon above the water for a picture taking ceremony.

    Problem was Ruth responded with links to a half dozen sites citing scientifically that the Frazier River sturgeon populations have declined and is in trouble.
    So much for guide science.
     
  15. Trent

    Trent Active Member

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    Right on Chuck!
    Ya gotta love how in the article about how the state officials are closely monitoring the sturgeon, it says, "Nigro said the agencies are using gillnets and setlines to sample the populations as part of long-standing population monitoring."

    WTH!!! Way to contribute to the problem!!! There is documented proof that gillnet mortality is as high as 46.9%!!!

    Makes me feel much more confident in our far superiorly intelligent state biologists.... great decision guys and gals!!! :roll: