June 7, 2016

Coalition Calls for Changes to Regulations on Delta Predators

Western Growers and a coalition of business and water organizations has submitted a petition to the California Fish and Game Commission to decrease size limits and increase bag limits for black bass and striped bass in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its tributaries.

In an effort to protect the Delta smelt and salmon, government regulators have placed greatest emphasis on just one of many possible stressors affecting these endangered fish populations: the state and federal water project pumps at the southern Delta. However, despite years of turning down the pumps and paralyzing thousands of San Joaquin Valley farms, many fish biologists believe these species aren’t recovering. Yet regulators continue to give little emphasis to other threats to the Delta ecosystem, including predation.

The purpose of the proposed changes is to reduce predation by non-native black bass and striped bass on threatened or endangered native fish species. Predation is a major source of mortality for protected fish in the Delta, a fact that is well-documented in reports from government agencies and outside experts. For example, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has stated that striped bass may consume up to half of all endangered winter- and spring-run salmon.

California’s protection of these predators through the imposition of size and bag limits has exacerbated their harm to protected smelt and salmon.

For black bass, the proposed changes would decrease the size limit from 12 inches to eight inches and increase the daily bag limit from five fish to 10 fish. The size limit for striped bass would be decreased from 18 inches to 12 inches and the daily bag limit would be increased from two fish to six fish.

Click on the link for more information on other stressors impacting the Delta smelt and salmon populations