• California Fish and Wildlife makes Big Fish Save in Sacramento

    Posted on May 5th, 2016 Chris Knight No comments

    While you may not think that rescuing fish from a flood control basin would be interesting, read this release from the DFW regarding the rescue of hundreds of fish near the Sacramento Delta and you might change your mind. With ESA-listed species included, hundreds of salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon were removed from the Fremont and Tisdale Weirs  and re-released into the Sacramento River this month.

    Making this rescue all the more interesting is that DFW technicians implanted many of the fish with tracking devices to provide scientists with both survival and spawning data. In addition, DNA testing was conducted on the salmon to determine specific seasonal runs. Very Cool. Read the release below.

    Click on the photo to see the full release. Photo courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

  • A Tale of Two Cities

    Posted on November 21st, 2009 Chris Knight 2 comments

    It’s been 11 days since the state’s MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force(BRTF) announced and voted on it’s integrated proposal to submit to the Fish and Game Commission for approval and the universal groan of disappointment was heard from every Southern California stakeholder group save for perhaps two. The communities of Redondo Beach and Malibu in Los Angeles County came out basically with what they wanted. In a compromise that was supported by both city and county councils, a large section of the waters off Pt. Dume in Malibu were designated no-take reserves while in Palos Verdes, the northern side of the peninsula looks to remain open.

    These 2 very different outcomes I think are reflection on the inclusionary nature of the process and the desire of the BRTF to make it work for all Californians while still living up to the letter of the law. In Malibu, there was overwhelming public support for a large state marine reserve by community members and it was reflected in a resolution vote by the Malibu City Council to the BRTF supporting that desire. The city of Redondo Beach on the other hand was concerned about a projected $17.3 million loss if King Harbor fishers couldn’t access the rocky reefs on the front side of PV.  The RB City Council therefore voted on a resolution rejecting the proposed reserves that would close this important area.   To crystallize the public resolve from both cities, LA County Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Don Kanabe also added a county resolution to the BRTF supporting their respective  desires. There was so much working together that you would have thought they were getting ready to sing  kumbayah and hold hands. I’m talking community here.

    On November 10th, both communities got what they wanted. The BRTF listened and then modified the proposed closures by taking a socioeconomic argument over a scientific one. This compromise may not have met the spatial science requirements of the MLPA but for these 2 communities, it was the right move.

    BRTF Proposal

    BRTF Proposal Document

    MLPA South Coast Integrated Preferred Alternative (IPA) MPA Proposal Map

    MLPA South Coast Integrated Preferred Alternative (IPA) MPA Proposal Map

  • A Fisherman's Conservation Ethic at the Malibu Pier

    Posted on November 1st, 2009 Chris Knight 12 comments

    I’ve spent a lot of time following the MLPA process here in California and if nothing else, I’ve found it’s consistently been filled with passionate arguments about an important issue by parties on both sides of the fence. I recently  finished watching the final meetings for Southern California in Long Beach a couple of weeks ago and clearly everyone expressed heartfelt opinions. The one thing that really struck me on the recreational fishing side was the consistent assertions that fishermen, as end users, were “true conservationists,” caring more about the environment because they would always want there to be fish. This position, they argue, makes their proposed closures the more reasonable and appropriate ones rather than the alternatives offered. Aldo Leopold notwithstanding, it makes for an interesting argument and a reasonable person might agree. I’m not sure I’m one of those reasonable people however after a day at the Malibu Pier this week.

    For background, I was on a family outing that had all the potential of a  real Norman Rockwell dust-up. It was late afternoon on a sunny day, the beach was crowded, couples were walking on the pier, and there was a flock of 20 or so  fishermen lining the pier’s edges. It was so great to see so many folks enjoying the ocean. The scene was suddenly shocked out of its Rockwell-ian bliss with excitement as one of the fishermen gave out a “fish on” cry. It was a fish alright, a big one in fact…a 30-plus pound  Angel Shark. Everyone got excited including the fisherman next to me who felt compelled to let everyone know “it’s a sand shark!”  At this point I decided to do the neighborly thing and so I told him I was pretty sure it was an angel shark. He was nice enough to correct me and let me know it was indeed a sand shark which was surprising because we don’t have them in California, or even in the Eastern Pacific but such is life. I let the matter drop. This turned out to be just the start the fun however because the hits just kept coming. Next came the initial attempt to bring the fish to the pier using a lobster hoop net which may have seemed like a great idea at the time but turned out to be a costly mistake. The knot holding the line to the net slipped and  the fish and the net splashed back into the Pacific. Score $44.95 retail at Sports Chalet for the angel shark and also another lost net fouling the ocean.  10 minutes later, a new, improved, and more securely tied hoop net was found and the netting began again. As the net came under fish, he spit the hook but he just hung there. I can’t say if it was the exhaustion or the shock that they would try the same fubar approach twice that kept him there, but the fish held for it. Up he came and the tourists flocked. One said “let’s take a picture” but the fisherman said “No. We can’t keep him out of the water too long.”  Acting in full conservation mode and noting the animal’s apparent “wing” shaped fins, our hero launched the creature over the side for a 30-foot graceful glide into the ocean ala “Rocket J. Squirrel.”  After the apparently surprise effects of gravity finished the lords work and our fishy friend had drifted away, the fisherman who had supplied the second hoop net spoke to our beaming “conservationist” and asked “nice fish. What was it?”

    Now I could go on longer about that day’s fun on the pier like when I saw the lady who thought 8 inches must be the minimum size for halibut because she put one that size in her game bag but I’ll stop here and ask the serious questions I think fishermen should be asking within their own community:

    1) Where were the fishermen who were responsible enough to know what  species they were fishing for and catching?

    2) Where were the fishermen who knew their regulations?

    3) Where were the fishermen who had the proper equipment for the situation?

    4) Where were the fishermen practicing responsible take?

    Seriously, where was the conservation ethic I’d heard so much about that should have been practiced that day on the pier?

    I didn’t write this because I think all fishermen act like the fishers I saw on the pier and I didn’t  make fun of the people I saw just because I could (okay, maybe I did a little). I did it because with all the outrage and indignity expressed by recreational fishing community at meetings and in the media over MPAs in California, their claim to being the true conservationists in the MLPA process took a serious beating that sunny afternoon on a pier in Malibu and that’s worth looking at.

  • “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People”

    Posted on October 20th, 2009 Chris Knight 3 comments

    Today in Long Beach, one of the last opportunities for public comment on the MLPA process in Southern California will be had by a lot of interested stakeholders. No doubt there will be a large group of recreational fishermen in black shirts and also a throng of adamant MPA supporters, including a shuttle load from here at Scripps. For those of you familiar with the process to date, the public comment period will be filled, as always, with a lot of emotion. One side will say that their constitutional rights are being denied because they won’t be able to fish anymore while the other will say that we’ve destroyed the marine ecosystem and we need even more protection for our oceans. They’ve all got good points and they’re also spinning facts like a child’s dradle at Chanukah.  The truth is we know reserves and protected areas work because they keep intact fragments of ecosystems. We also hope they provide the resources to restore surrounding damaged areas though that doesn’t always happen. What we are sure of is that these areas put aside will be protected. The process will be painful and contentious, like the birth of any idea.

    The reason why I’m writing this is because I’ve been enjoying Ken Burn’s “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” on PBS recently. It depicts the development of the National Park System, which is in itself an amazing story. What it really speaks to however, is the idea that our nation’s natural resources are the property and domain of all its citizens and not just those who are using it. Because of that, we interested few have a greater responsibility to all who may never see a healthy kelp forest to make sure that it is always there. That will come at a cost and we must meet that challenge as well. Environmental decisions always involve human trade-offs. I just hope that 100 years from now people will look at MPA’s in California the way we look at Yosemite, Yellowstone, or Kings Canyon, and say that was a great idea.

    Ranger Shelton Johnson Video

    Ranger Shelton Johnson Video