— Few fish biting in Monterey Bay on opening day of recreational salmon fishing

From Monterey Herald

April 1, 2017

Moss Landing >> How slow was opening day of recreational salmon fishing in Monterey Bay?

By 12:30 p.m. Saturday only three salmon had been recorded at Moss Landing Harbor. And at Monterey Harbor only a few fish were landed.

The result was in keeping with predictions by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife that reduced fishing opportunities will be the norm this season. That is linked to poor river conditions because of the drought.

Even so, a few fishermen came in with beautiful salmon.

“Every time someone’s come in they’re saying, ‘I got one, I got two,’ ” said Alex Callison of the Monterey Harbor Patrol.

A couple of boats were towed in by the Harbor Patrol because their motors failed, Callison said, but that’s not unusual.

At Moss Landing, Dave Parks of Hollister landed the first fish. It was a keeper (at least 24 inches long) and was a tagged salmon. Members of the Ocean Salmon Project of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife were on hand to record each fish and ask fishermen how long they had been out and how deep they were fishing.

Also on hand were Fish and Wildlife game wardens to check that fishing licenses were current.

The Ocean Salmon Project representatives knew the fish was tagged because a small fin had been removed just above the tail before it was released. These fish are also implanted with a tiny stainless silver pin in the head. It contains data on where it was hatched, its age and which run it was a part of.

The heads of these fish are sent to a Santa Rosa lab for research. More on that later.


Fish No. 2 landed at 11:45 a.m. It was a wild king salmon. “Great, I get to keep the head,” one of the three fishermen said. The three took credit for the fish. They were trolling when it struck and one of them reeled in it.

But the fish were few and far between.

“I got one bite all day,” a fisherman said after loading his boat back on its trailer.

But 45 minutes later, the boat Sea Monkey docked with an 18¾-pound king salmon on board, inside a cooling bag.

Huy Nguyen of San Jose caught the fish. It was his first time salmon fishing. He said it took about five minutes to land.

…“We’ll eat well tonight,” Dang said. “A lot of salmon poki.”

Another boat landed with a catch of 10 rockfish. The opening of recreational salmon fishing and rockfishing coincided Saturday.

…By collecting data on the tagged fish, the CDFW and other fisheries agencies are able to determine how many salmon can be taken during a season and the length of the season.

On April 10, the Pacific Fishery Management Council will make those decisions.

The salmon season that opened Saturday is for the area from Horse Mountain south to the U.S.-Mexico border. The area north of Horse Mountain will remain closed this year because of the historically low number of Klamath fall Chinook salmon.

On March 1, at the Ocean Salmon Information Meeting in Santa Rosa, it was announced there are 230,700 Sacramento River fall run Chinook adults in the ocean this year and 54,000 Klamath River fall run adults. Both forecasts were lower than in recent years, with the Klamath run among the lowest on record.

Even though a poor season is predicted, the urge to reel in a fighting salmon is strong…


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— Monterey Bay: “There’s no squid.”

In recent years scientists have gained a deeper understanding of sardines’ value as “forage fish,” small but nutrition-packed species such as herring and market squid that form the core of the ocean food web, funneling energy upward by eating tiny plankton and being preyed on by big fish, seabirds, seals and whales. — Los Angeles Times, Jan. 5, 2014 [1]

The core of the ocean’s food web is vanishing.

The Monterey Herald writer says, “Not to panic.” Translation: “Tourists, don’t worry and please keep coming; this is natural.”

“Pristine waters of Monterey Bay” is laughable; agricultural chemical runoff from the Salinas Valley is just one of the long-standing toxic inputs into Monterey Bay, in addition to Fukushima’s new and devastating impact.

But no one mentions Fukushima. El Niño is the excuse and cover story, but it just added additional stress to an already broken and dying marine environment. Below are article excerpts

From Monterey Herald

Monterey Bay squid season basically a bust

May 11, 2016
by Mike Hale


Monterey >> …“Once El Niño showed up things started to look different in the bay,” said Sal Tringali, president of Monterey Fish Company, who oversees a five-boat fleet that provides local restaurants with most of their fresh seafood, including squid.

Not to panic; our shared “Serengeti of the Sea” is still a pristine habitat. But warming waters along the West Coast have changed the waterscape — at least for now. For example, local squid fishermen have turned out their bright boat lights because the season is basically a bust.

There’s no squid,” said Tringali. “No anchovies either. We’ve seen this before during El Niño.”

It’s quite typical for squid to move on during an El Niño period, according to professor William Gilly, squid expert for Pacific Grove’s Hopkins Marine Station, run by Stanford University. [“Experts” at Hopkins Marine Station, MBARI, Moss Landing Marine Lab, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary, and NOAA have been silent about Fukushima impacts from the beginning as have public officials.]

“We saw a crash in landings in 1997-98 and again in 2009-10 (both El Niño years),” he said. Each time the fishery recovered with the return of the more familiar La Niña.

Gilly points to an anomalous offshore “blob” of warmer water (about 3 degrees above normal) that scientists actually began charting two years ago. This caused squid to move north (in this case), with fishermen landing schools as far away as Sitka, Alaska.

Surging demand in China, Japan, Mexico and Europe has boosted prices and launched a fishing frenzy worth more than $70 million a year. The vanishing act is a concern to fishermen, to wholesalers such as Tringali and to restaurant owners such as Kevin Phillips, who serves more than 1,000 pounds of fresh squid each week out of Abalonetti Bar and Grill on Fisherman’s Wharf…

Phillips tries hard to maintain the quality of the squid served at Abalonetti, and isn’t shy about revealing the industry’s dirty little secret: “Many local restaurants, along with most of the country, are using Monterey Bay squid processed in Asia ,” he said. “It comes ready to use.”

Much of the local catch — 90 percent of the 230 million pounds landed each season along the California coast — is frozen, shipped to China, unfrozen, processed, refrozen, packaged and sent back to the United States as part of a 12,000-mile journey that leaves one giant carbon footprint. It is genuine California squid, and cheaper and convenient, but the process doesn’t score high in the categories of freshness and sustainability

…“My first choice is local squid caught and cleaned here,” said Sam Mercurio of Domenico’s on the Wharf. “When squid are running strong Monterey Fish will put aside some tonnage and freeze it for slower years. We also look to the East Coast, but the squid there is bigger, tougher and not as sweet…

A fisherman himself, [Sam] Mercurio [of Domenico’s on the Wharf] relies on his relationship with his comrades to supply his restaurant with seafood.

“We know exactly where to source everything,” he said.

But these days that’s a challenge. It hasn’t been a good run for the entire Monterey Bay fishing industry. Once known as the Sardine Capital of the World, that fishery is currently closed due to low numbers (sardines are known for their wide-ranging “boom-and-bust” population cycles). Warm waters and a resulting neurotoxin undermined most of the Dungeness crab season. And the commercial California king salmon season started slowly May 1, with Monterey Bay boats reporting meager results.

But it’s the elusive squid that has everyone the most concerned.

“We’ve seen this before and have come close to running out,” Phillips said. “Sometimes it’s better to specialize in chicken wings.”

Mike Hale writes about the food and wine scene in Monterey County. Listen to his weekly radio show “Food Fodder” at noon Wednesdays on KRML, 102.1 FM. Reach the author at thegrubhunter@att.net


[1] http://articles.latimes.com/2014/jan/05/local/la-me-sardine-crash-20140106

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Monterey Bay: Seals starving, dying; 100% death rate of baby seals at pupping beach in Pacific Grove

This beach is located in Pacific Grove near Lovers’ Point, at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station. It is next to the route of the Big Sur Half Marathon.

There is no mention by local marine biologists of Fukushima radiation.

From ENE News
3 -22-16

100% death rate of baby seals on California coast — “None have survived” — “Many are starving, suffering from shortage of food in Pacific Ocean” — “Extremely thin… all sorts of illnesses, infections” — “Milkless moms immediately abandoning pups” — TV: “The problem is getting worse” (VIDEOS)

KION, Mar 17, 2016 (emphasis added): Sea lion moms and pups struggling to survive…  Bay Net, a volunteer group of naturalists, are keeping a watchful eye on them at the Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove. They say the start of the season has been rough. “Some of them have been way too thin to have a healthy birth and have enough milk to feed it,” said Bay Net volunteer Thom Akeman. So far this season 13 pups have been born but none of them have survived. Many seals are underweight and starving, suffering from a shortage of food in the Pacific Ocean… “When they get extremely thin they’re open to all sorts of illnesses and infections,” said [volunteer Marg] Brigadier … The group Harbor Seals of Pacific Grove has been documenting the unusually high rate of dying pups on Facebook.

Chronological updates from Facebook page ‘Harbor Seals of Pacific Grove

  • Jan 25: The first live birth hit Hopkins beach… [The mom] was not nursing it… The pup is very premature and does not appear fully developed…
  • Jan 26: The premature pup from last night was gone. It had been washed away but there was a second premature birth… [The mom] clearly did not have any milk… what concerns us is the overall look of the seals. So many of the seals appear thin
  • Jan 30: I am sorry to report that our 3rd premature pup was born… This was by far the smallest pup I have ever observed. It did not last longer then [sic] about 5 minutes.
  • Jan 31: [W]e had our 4th premature pup born at Hopkins Beach… [it] died very quickly…
  • Feb 3: We continue to see very thin adult seals
  • Feb 19: Our 5th premature pup was on the Hopkins beach tonight [and] will not survive…
  • Feb 23: Two more premature pups were born… I will spare you the photos… no moms were able to care for them… Saturday, a very young emaciated sea lion pup was discovered at Lovers Point. Washed ashore on the beach were a lot of red crab… if this trend continues in our oceans, many, many more animals will perish
  • Mar 4: [P]remature pup #8 was born… and yesterday morning premature pup #9 was born… Neither of these pups survived and in both cases the moms abandoned them right away… Many of the harbor seals continue to look thin and it becoming painfully clear that we may have lost a portion of our adult seals as they have not returned to the rookery for the past 1 to 2 years… and have been constant fixtures on Hopkins beach… the warming of the oceans and lack of food are taking their toll on the harbor seals as well as, the seal lions and the waterfowl.
  • Mar 8: #10 was born… Once again, this pup was abandoned and is very premature. It will go the way of the 9 pups preceding it… It has already been abandoned…
  • Mar 10: After 10 live births this year where milkless moms immediately abandoned the pups, this mom stayed on Hopkins beach with the 11th live birth of the season… We watched the pup until after 6pm with no successful nursing…
  • Mar 15: I do not think our two pups (#11 with the mom and #12 the abandoned pup) will be with us… I did not see them… Yesterday, pup #12 was in the center of the beach looking very lethargic and pup #11 just never seemed to thrive or put any weight on…

KION transcript, Mar 16, 2016: The problem is getting worse. “Last year was unprecedented for us, we had 359. This year we’re already at 160, and it’s only the middle of March.”

Watch KION’s broadcasts: One | Two