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Mallard Breeding Declined By 27 Percent

Photo courtesy of CDFW

Photo courtesy of CDFW


From the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) completed its 2015 waterfowl breeding population survey. The CDFW survey, which uses methodology approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), indicates the total number of breeding ducks (all species combined) has declined. Breeding mallards, the most numerous duck species in the state, declined 27 percent from 2014.

The total number of breeding ducks is estimated at 315,580, compared to 448,750 last year. The estimated breeding population of mallards is 173,865, a decrease from 238,670 in 2014. CDFW attributes the decline to very low precipitation and poor habitat conditions. Similar declines in breeding duck population estimates have occurred in the past but recovered after habitat conditions improved.

“Habitat conditions were poor the last three years in both northeastern California and the Central Valley and the production of young ducks was reduced as a result, so a lower breeding population was expected in 2015,” said CDFW’s Waterfowl Program Environmental Scientist Melanie Weaver. “We would expect another low year of duck production from these two important areas in California in 2015. However, habitat conditions in northern breeding areas (Alaska and Canada) are reported to be better than average.”

CDFW has conducted this survey using fixed-wing aircraft since 1948. The population estimates are for the surveyed areas only, which include the majority of the suitable duck nesting habitat in the state. These areas include wetland and agricultural areas in northeastern California, the Central Valley from Red Bluff to Bakersfield, and the Suisun Marsh. The Breeding Population Survey Report is available at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/waterfowl/.

The majority of California’s wintering duck population originates from breeding areas surveyed by the USFWS in Alaska and Canada, and these results should be available in July. CDFW survey information, along with similar data from other Pacific Flyway states, is used by the USFWS and the Pacific Flyway Council when setting hunting regulations for the Pacific Flyway states, including California.

The federal regulation frameworks specify the outside dates, maximum season lengths and maximum bag limits. Once CDFW receives the USFWS estimates and the frameworks for waterfowl hunting regulations from the USFWS, CDFW will make a recommendation to the Fish and Game Commission regarding this year’s waterfowl hunting regulations.

NOAA: Saltwater Anglers Spending Big Bucks

Getting the job done aboard the Royal Star, long-range veteran Art Nolen with a nice yellowtail. (Photo courtesy Royal Star)

Getting the job done aboard the Royal Star, long-range veteran Art Nolen with a nice yellowtail. (Photo courtesy Royal Star)



From the National Oeanic and Atmospheric Administration:

Anglers spent approximately $156 million on saltwater recreational fishing in California’s four national marine sanctuaries on average, which generated more than $200 million in annual economic output and supported nearly 1,400 jobs, according to a new NOAA report released today. The peer-reviewed report cited data ranging from 2010-2012, the most recent years for which this data is available, from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

father helping son fish over the side of a boat
Mason Nunn visiting from Colorado gets a little help from his dad on a big fish while fishing in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Credit: Sanctuary Classic

The findings highlight the positive effects and economic value of recreational fishing in the four California sanctuaries–Channel Islands, Greater Farallones, Cordell Bank and Monterey Bay–which are managed to ensure the health of our most valued ocean places. Approximately 13.4 percent of all saltwater recreational fishing in California from 2010 to 2012 took place in national marine sanctuaries, the report states. During the study period, the Greater Farallones sanctuary was called the Gulf of the Farallones; it was renamed earlier this month.

“This report underscores the value of national marine sanctuaries as focal points for recreation and local economic development,” said Bob Leeworthy, chief economist for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “It also highlights the important role sanctuaries play in protecting the health and integrity of critical marine ecosystems, including places cherished by recreational saltwater anglers.”

The Economic Impact of the Recreational Fisheries on Local County Economies in California National Marine Sanctuaries, 2010, 2011 and 2012, was produced by the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. Among the findings:

  • Based on a three-year average from 2010 to 2012, the total economic impact from recreational fishing in California national marine sanctuaries–the so-called “ripple effect”–totaled $213.1 million.
  • Communities served by a national marine sanctuary, on average, saw an additional $74.4 million in income to business owners and employees as a result of recreational fishing in the sanctuary.
  • Of the places anglers fish, national marine sanctuaries accounted for 13.4 percent of the total person-days of recreational fishing in California each year on average.
  • Land-based shore fishing in the sanctuaries accounted for an average of 9.9 percent of shore fishing person-days in California; charter and passenger fishing vessels (CPFV) in the sanctuaries accounted for 22.3 percent of all CPFV person-days in California; and private/rental boat fishing in the sanctuaries accounted for 25.8 percent of all private/rental boat person-days in California.
  • Anglers spent $79.7 million on trip-related expenses, with fuel one of the largest expenditures for anglers. Non-residents had higher trip-related expenditures for auto rental and lodging. Anglers spent an additional $75.9 million on durable goods purchases, with the highest expenditures for rods and reels, tackle and boat storage.

The complete California recreational fishing economic impacts study, along with earlier national marine sanctuary socioeconomic reports, can be found atsanctuaries.noaa.gov/science/socioeconomic/pdfs/california_rec_sanctuaries.pdf.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook,link leaves government site Twitterlink leaves government site, Instagramlink leaves government site and our other social media channels.

Young Angler Tournament In San Diego



From the San Diego Sportfishing Council:

Young anglers ages six through 15 are invited to compete in the free 13th Annual Young Angler Tournament this summer at the Shelter Island Pier, located at 1776 Shelter Island Drive on Saturday August 8th. This saltwater event is sponsored by the San Diego Sportfishing Council, the International Game Fish Association and the Port of San Diego.
The tournament will feature a points system to allow for catch and release. Winners-one in each age category between six and 15 — will be determined by adding up points for various fish caught. The angler with the most points overall will be recognized on the tournaments’ perpetual trophy. IGFA representatives and volunteers from the United Pier and Shore Anglers Club, San Diego Rod & Reel and the San Diego Anglers will be on hand to assist young anglers and to tally points. Young anglers in the competition are encouraged to bring their own gear, although a limited number of loaner rods will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Small quantities of bait will be provided each angler while supplies last.

Registration for the Shelter Island Pier Tournament slated for Saturday, Aug. 8 begins at 7:30 AM.  Fishing begins at 8:30 AM and ends at 12 noon.  Prizes are awarded by 1 PM.  Hot dogs, chips, and sodas will be served to all registered anglers. Lunch provided courtesy of Stump’s Village Market of Rancho Santa Fe and Tommy Gomes from Catalina Offshore Products and Specialty Produce.

Sponsors include OKUMA Fishing Tackle, Turner’s, Anglers Distributing, Big Hammer Lures, Friends of Rollo, Costa Sunglasses, Uni Goop, Tiburon Engineering, Point Loma and H&M Sportfishing Landings.  Prizes and raffle drawing items for the tournament include rods and reels, hats, T-shirts, and fishing gear and deep sea fishing trips.  Loaner Gear, Bait, and tackle are provided by Okuma Fishing Tackle, Anglers Distributing, and Friends of Rollo.

The San Diego Sportfishing Council is California non-profit corporation established in 1979 to promote San Diego fishing as an attractive marine recreational activity, to increase awareness and availability of “how, when and where” information on sportfishing opportunities. 

For more information, please call the San Diego Sportfishing Council at (619) 234-8793 or log onto the website at: www.sportfishing.org.

Gauging An ‘Unprecedented’ West Coast Algae Bloom


 Pseudo-nitzschia, the diatom that produces toxic domoic acid, collected off the Oregon Coast in May. NOAA Fisheries/NWFSC

Pseudo-nitzschia, the diatom that produces toxic domoic acid, collected off the Oregon Coast in May. NOAA Fisheries/NWFSC

From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle has mobilized extra scientists to join a fisheries survey along the West Coast to chart an extensive harmful algal bloom that spans much of the West Coast and has triggered numerous closures of important shellfish fisheries in Washington, Oregon and California.

The bloom stretches from the Central California Coast north to Washington and possibly Alaska, and involves some of the highest concentrations of the natural toxin domoic acid ever observed in Monterey Bay and off the Central Oregon Coast. In early June elevated toxin levels led shellfish managers to close the southern Washington Coast to Dungeness crab fishing, the largest-ever closure of Washington’s multi-million-dollar crab fishery.

“We’re taking advantage of our active surveys to focus research on a serious concern for coastal communities and the seafood industry,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “The better we understand what’s happening out on the water, the better we can address the impacts.”

While localized blooms of marine algae that naturally produce domoic acid are common in spring, the bloom that began earlier this year has grown into the largest and most severe in more than a decade. Sardines, anchovy and other fish that feed on the algae and other microorganisms known as plankton can accumulate the toxin, in turn poisoning birds and sea lions that feed on them.

“This is unprecedented in terms of the extent and magnitude of this harmful algal bloom and the warm water conditions we’re seeing offshore,” said Vera Trainer, manager of the Marine Microbes and Toxins Program at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) in Seattle. “Whether they’re related we can’t really say yet, but this survey gives us the opportunity to put these pieces together.”

State agencies monitor toxin levels closely and impose harvest closures where necessary to ensure that all commercial seafood remains safe to eat. NOAA Fisheries and others are also developing advanced robotic systems and models to better detect and forecast harmful algal blooms. See state agency websites linked below for the latest details on closures inCaliforniaOregon and Washington.


The NWFSC’s Marine Microbes and Toxins Program is working closely with the University of California Santa Cruz, University of Washington, Quileute Nation and Makah Tribe to add scientists to an already scheduled fisheries survey leaving today (June 15) from Newport, Ore., aboard the NOAA research ship Bell M. Shimada. The survey is a partnership between the NWFSC in Seattle and the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, Calif., to assess sardine and hake populations on the West Coast. The additional scientists will examine levels of marine toxins and the organisms that produce them.

The researchers will collect samples of water, the microscopic diatoms that produce domoic acid and another form of marine microorganism called dinoflagellates that produce another type of toxin called paralytic shellfish toxins (PSTs) that have also been detected in some shellfish. Domoic acid and PSTs are rarely found in shellfish at the same time, but they have been this year.

The scientists will also sample plankton-feeding fish such as anchovies and sardines that concentrate the toxins and transfer them to other marine animals.

Research during previous harmful algal blooms found “hot spots” of toxin-producing organisms along the West Coast, Trainer said, and the survey will search for similar concentrations this year.

The Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (ECOHAB) Research Program is completing a study of one such hot spot in California’s Monterey Bay and provides funding for UC Santa Cruz to analyze samples that will be collected during the survey. The results will help investigate connections between the current bloom and unusually warm ocean temperatures that have dominated the West Coast since last year, which may offer a preview of ocean conditions likely to become more common with climate change.


California officials have warned against consuming recreationally harvested mussels and clams, commercially or recreationally caught anchovy and sardines, or the internal organs of commercially or recreationally caught crab taken from Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.


Officials in Oregon have halted all shellfish harvesting from the Columbia River south to Tillamook Head and closed the entire state coastline to razor clamming because of elevated levels of domoic acid. High levels of PSTs have led to the closure of mussel harvesting along the Oregon Coast north of Gold Beach.


All coastal Washington beaches have also been closed to razor clamming, at an estimated loss of more than $9 million in revenue for coastal communities in the last month alone.



Background: Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act



Current closures in California



Current closures in Oregon



Current closures in Washington



Washington coastal domoic acid levels



USFWS Proposals Would Add Outdoor Opportunities

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From our friends at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe today announced as part of Great Outdoors Month the agency is proposing to expand fishing and hunting opportunities on 21 refuges throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System. The proposed rule also modifies existing refuge-specific regulations for more than 100 additional refuges and wetland management districts.

“The Service is committed to strengthening and expanding hunting and fishing opportunities,” said Ashe. “By expanding hunting and fishing programs across the Refuge System we are furthering a rich tradition of providing quality recreational opportunities to the American people. These programs support local economies, help people connect with the outdoors, and encourage people to value nature.”

National wildlife refuges provide premier outdoor recreational opportunities across the Nation. There are more than 560 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts, including one within an hour’s drive from most major metropolitan areas. The Service manages refuge hunting and fishing programs to ensure sustainable wildlife populations, while offering traditional wildlife-dependent recreation on public lands.

Under the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the Service permits hunting and fishing along with four other types of wildlife-dependent recreation when they are compatible with an individual refuge’s purpose and mission. Hunting, within specified limits, is permitted on 335 wildlife refuges. Fishing is permitted on 271 wildlife refuges.

Hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities on refuges help stimulate the economy and generate funding for wildlife conservation. The Service’s report Banking on Nature shows that refuges pump $2.4 billion into the economy and support more than 35,000 jobs. More than 47 million people visit refuges every year.

Other wildlife-dependent recreation on national wildlife refuges includes wildlife photography, environmental education, wildlife observation, and interpretation.

The Service also proposes expanding hunting and sport fishing on the following refuges:


Serpent-like Oarfish Washed Up On Catalina


Photo by REUTERS/TylerDvorak/Catalina Island Conservancy

Photo by REUTERS/TylerDvorak/Catalina Island Conservancy

With the latest in the Jurassic Park franchise hitting theaters later this month, perhaps it was ominous   fitting that a prehistoric-looking creature has washed ashore off Catalina Island in Southern California. An oarfish was spotted by bird surveyors.

Here’s Reuters with more:

Amy Catalano said she and a co-worker at the Catalina Island Conservancy were conducting a bird survey on Monday and standing on a bluff when they spotted the long body of the creature on the island’s shore below.

“It was amazing, it felt like a movie prop, it looked make-believe almost,” she said.

Oarfish are of interest to scientists because they live in a largely unknown ecosystem of the oceanic mesopelagic zone, the part of the ocean that is about 660 to 3,280 feet (200 to 1,000 meters) below the surface.

This oarfish measured about 13.5 feet (4.1 meters) long, said Catalano, a conservation coordinator who said she believes the fish had washed ashore only minutes before the discovery. The serpent-like creatures can grow to be more than 20 feet (6 meters) long, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Oarfish were also spotted off the Southern California coast in 2013. There hasn’t been a Loch Ness monster buzz associated with these sightings, but who knows? Perhaps we’ll have our own “Nessie” legend soon.

Californian Elected Ducks Unlimited President


Photo courtesy of Ducks Unlimited

Photo courtesy of Ducks Unlimited


Ducks Unlimited had its national convention in Milwaukee last week and announced the election of California native Paul Bonderson, Jr. as the organization’s 43rd president. Bonderson has spent the last nine years on DU’s board of directors, including spending time as its vice president.

Here’s a 2009 profile from the Contra Costa Times with some additional background on Bonderson, who was a successful electrical engineer and businessman while being a dedicated supporter of wildlife conversation in both the Bay Area where he lived and throughout Northern California.

From Times reporter Robert Jordan:

Bonderson became actively involved with Ducks Unlimited in 2000, when he and his wife, Sandi, began purchasing land in the upper Butte Basin south of Chico.

Nine years later, the Bondersons own a 2,500-acre ranch of which 1,500 acres have been restored from rice fields back to natural wetlands.

“His primary interest is in wildlife,” said Rudy Rosen, director of the Western regional office for Ducks Unlimited. “He would not have done what he did to make a place to hunt. He could have done a whole lot less.

“What he has done has nothing to with hunting. It has to do with restoration of habitat and protecting wildlife.”…

Bonderson inherited the conservation bug from his father, Paul Bonderson. The elder Bonderson spent his life dedicated to water issues in California as the executive officer of the state Water Resources Control Board.

The elder Bonderson was also an avid duck hunter and conservationist, taking his son hunting any chance he got.

When he wasn’t working on ways to improve California’s water quality or finding ways to keep Lake Tahoe blue, the elder Bonderson was teaching his son the importance of conservation.

“I have always been an outdoor person,” Bonderson said. “I have a great appreciation for the outdoors and am aware of how much it’s been destroyed. I have been focused on preserving it for future generations.”


Here’s the Ducks Unlimited release:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – June 2, 2015 – Ducks Unlimited (DU) welcomed Paul Bonderson Jr. as its 43rd president during DU’s national convention in Milwaukee on Saturday, May 30. Bonderson succeeds George Dunklin Jr., who now serves as the chairman of the board.
“I was honored to be elected as president of such a great organization,” Bonderson said after the election. “I have worked with Ducks Unlimited for quite some time, and I couldn’t be more proud to serve as its president for the next two years.”

Bonderson delivered his acceptance speech immediately following the elections and said he will focus on several priorities during his presidency including the Rescue Our Wetlands campaign, which seeks to raise $2 billion for waterfowl and wetlands conservation.

“The success of this campaign will in great measure shape not only our organization, but the future of wetlands conservation for many years to come,” Bonderson told the audience. “Rescue Our Wetlands is a continental wetlands and waterfowl conservation effort and comprehensive in nature – meaning everyone at every level within Ducks Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited Canada and Ducks Unlimited de Mexico has a role to play.”

Bonderson said his other priorities included overseeing the implementation of DU’s next strategic plan, a continued focus on DU’s policy work in Washington, D.C., overseeing a new IT system upgrade, continued growth in DU’s youth and education programs and ensuring DU has a voice in addressing severe drought issues in his home state of California.

“As a native of California and a lifelong duck hunter in the Central Valley, our current drought situation is of great concern to me and all residents of the state,” Bonderson said. “Ducks Unlimited has long played a role in resolving water issues in the West. However, we have reached a point where water use and availability will now be a primary factor in our ability to engage effectively in conservation delivery and policy with our partners in this part of the country.”

Bonderson has been a member of DU’s board of directors for the past nine years, serving as first vice president, regional vice president, senior flyway vice president and senior advisory vice president for conservation. He is also a member of the Wetlands America Trust board – the land trust foundation arm of Ducks Unlimited. Bonderson and his wife, Sandi, live in Sunol, Calif., and have two children. He is retired from Brocade Communication Systems where he was co-founder and held various positions including Vice President of Engineering and CTO.

“My time spent on DU’s board of directors has been amazing, and I look forward to continuing my work as president,” Bonderson said. “I can’t wait to see all the great things we will accomplish over the next two years.”

This year’s convention also featured presentations from U.S Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack; Virtual Instruments CEO, John Thompson and Caterpillar Inc. CEO, Doug Oberhelman. Next year’s convention will be held in Anchorage, Alaska, June 1-5.

For more information, visit www.ducks.org.

Kokanee Derby Moved For Low Water

Photo courtesy of Rick Kennedy

Photo courtesy of Rick Kennedy


Our friends at Kokanee Power announced the kokanee derby that was originally scheduled to be held at New Melones Lake has been moved to Pardee Lake on June 13-14.

“Due to minimal ramp availability with the low water we moved the 2-Day Melones derby to Lake Pardee. It’s the same 2-Day format,” Kokanee Power’s website reports. “The fish are as big as Melones and the lake has lots of water with a six-lane concrete ramp.”

Check out this flier for more information.