A Trip To Santa Cruz — Days Two Through Four—Science Meetings

Ken Jones

Staff member
The conference I attended in Santa Cruz was a Science Workshop put on by the Marine Resource Education Program—West Coast (MREP).

The majority of attendees were (a) people from various commercial fishery companies, (b) people from recreational fisheries, and (c) government employees (mainly from NOAA but also one from the California Fish and Game Commission, one from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and one from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife).

The only person I knew was an old friend from the MLPA days, Jay Yokomizo who runs the Huck Finn out of Emeryville Marina. He’s a good guy and, in my opinion, one of the best skippers in the Bay Area.

The majority of scientists were connected to NOAA, the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, and/or the University of California Santa Cruz.

Talks were on: Fishery Science and Management, Fishery Dependent Data Collection (commercial), Fishery Independent Data Collection (recreational), Stock Assessment and Modeling, Fisherman’s Science and Collaboration, Oceanography and Climate Drivers and Economics and Fisheries.

We also were given several presentations at the labs at UCSC— Fish Tracking via Acoustic Transmitters (salmon), Ichthyoplankton Trawl Surveys (food for the fish), Genetics (basically CSI for fish), the Dissection Lab (checking stomach contents and measuring several different features on the fish), and the Otolith Lab (looking at fish scales).

Lastly we saw several current projects being done by various groups—Barotrauma (releasing deep-water rockfish for survival), Salmon Releases (trucks and boats), Light Touch Trawl Gear (new ways to avoid disturbing the bottom), Risk Pools and the Role of Salmon and Halibut Excluders (how to allow salmon and halibut to escape from nets intended for other species), Whale Entanglement Reduction Through Dungeness Crab Gear Modification.

Although never stated directly, I think the meeting was intended to help understand the science that’s (hopefully) behind the Pacific Management Council’s decision-making process, a process that in turn drives the California regulations. In some ways it was like a MLPA meeting but I think a majority of the people at the meeting already agreed in most part with the process.

Why was I there? Basically, I was the person there representing the inshore anglers. And, I went representing UPSAC which is really the only fishery group that is mainly concerned with pier and shore issues. Given that NOAA and the regional fishery councils are under the umbrella of the Commerce Department, I think it’s clear that money helps drive the discussion and inshore fishermen are typically considered as a very small part of that overall discussion.

Two areas of fish seemed to be the main concern—salmon and rockfish, although the status of many species was discussed including tuna, halibut, sablefish, hake, etc. Of course the science can sometimes disagree with the views of commercial and recreational fishermen. If scientists can give a better understanding of the role they play in the process, the more support they and the regional council should get. Not too different from listening to the different scientists during the MLPA meetings.

I am not going to list all the things in my twenty pages or so of notes but I will be dribbling out bits and pieces down the road that hopefully may prove of interest. However, as in the question I asked today about yearly spending on fishing, the more data we can accumulate the better or perhaps bigger role we (inshore anglers) can play in the process. Believe me when I say no other fishery group is really representing the inshore fisheries. I will say I made a lot of interesting contacts and perhaps some can help us down the road in various projects?

Some pics—


Some of equipment used to track salmon through the rivers and estuary. Tiny chips are implanted into the salmon which are tracked by receivers.

The status of the various rockfish species is of paramount concern. Luckily it looks like several species are making a faster than expected recovery.

Some amazing (and expensive) DNA equipment used by the labs. Felt like I was in CSI Las Vegas.


Checking out the internal organs of fish before cutting into the bones that can be used to age the fish.


The computer of one of the top scientists in the world at aging fish through their scales (otoliths).
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