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November 21, 2015    Headlines

Crab Season On Hold
Rockfish Munching at the Islands

Crab Update: November 21st
There is some good news on the Dungeness crab domoic acid (DA) levels results posted by the CDPH. Tests this past week show dropping DA levels out of all ports south of Ft Bragg with some ports testing "clean".
 In a nutshell federal guide lines call for a DA level of 30ppm or lower to be considered safe. They take 6 to 12 sample crabs and use both an average of all samples and the percentage of the combined tests for their final results.
The most recent tests were conducted off Half Moon Bay, Monterey Bay, San Francisco, Bodega Bay and Crescent City.
Off Monterey bay tests conducted on November-12 showed an average DA level of 21ppm but 14% of the crabs still tested above the action level of 30 ppm. In comparison test in Monterey on October-31 showed an average of just 17ppm with 9% being over the action level. A slight increase with most crabs testing safe.
Half Moon Bay saw great results on the November 16th test with an average DA of just 11ppm and 0% above action level.
San Francisco also saw safe results with an average of 10.7ppm and 0% above the action level.
Off Bodega Bay they took samples in two locations on November 16th, Point Reyes and the Russian river. The six samples taken off the Russian river showed an average DA of 25.8 with 50% testing above the action limit. In comparison tests on October 31st showed an average DA of 45ppm with 83% of the crabs tests above action levels.
They also tested off Point Reyes (I believe this was a new tests site and we don't have any earlier results) and here they found an average DA out of six samples of 51pp or 66% of the crabs testing above the action level.
Fort Bragg was last tested on October 30th and showed safe levels with an average of just 6.5ppm and no crabs testing above 15ppm.
Test results from this past week off Crescent City have not been released likely due to bad weather keeping the test boat in port. The most recent tests off Crescent City, Trinidad and Eureka in late October showed DA levels averaging 66ppm with nearly 100% of the crabs testing above the action level. We expect that tests will be conducted off the North Coast ports this coming week. We will post results as soon as they are available.
With the exception of Brookings all Oregon crabs have tested well below action levels for tests conducted in October but apparently they have closed their season until further testing is done.
Shellfish warnings have been lifted off the Central coast so it looks like the toxic algae blooms that caused this have died off.  This algae sinks to the bottom and becomes mixed with the sediment. In turn it is consumed by clams and worms and other things that crabs eat and the reason it takes longer to flush out of the crabs.
The current plan (I believe under the guidelines of the CDPH) calls for testing to be conducted every two weeks until all ports test below 60ppm. Once that happens there will be weekly tests until all ports see a DA level of 30ppm or below (federal safe standard for the viscera 20ppm for the meat). Once the CDPH declares the crabs safe to eat then it will be up to the Director of Fish and Wildlife to open the season. It's a big ocean and with just limited testing being done I'm sure that the CDPH will be conservative before they declare "safe crabs".
The commercial fleet has asked for a state wide opener with a 7 seven day recreational season followed by a full opener for the commercial fleet. There will be some politics in the decision making process especially if crabs off the Central coast show safe DA levels and levels remain high on the North Coast.
All in all good news as DA levels are dropping out of most ports. If tests this coming week off the North Coast show improving DA levels we could all be dumping gear by mid December. We are doing our best to understand and report on this very important issue but are too learning about something that we (and many biologists) don't fully understand how and why this algae puts off DA.
Until the crab season reopens party and private boats are reporting great rockfish and ling action with sponsors like Rick Powers in Bodega and the Smith family in Berkeley and the Emeryville Sporting seeing big sacks and in many cases LIMITS of lings. Come out and enjoy a day on the water and support those who make this site possible. This site would not be possible without their and many other's support.

With the temporary, we hope, Dungeness crab season closure, rockfish and ling cod with have to satisfy fishermen, and if you aren’t satisfied with the counts coming off of the Bay Area boats, you may never be satisfied.

The weather ramped up and the ocean was not accessible due to the high swell and winds. The swell on Friday jumped from 6 to 12 plus feet by Saturday ahead of the approaching weather front. Here on Sunday 11-15 afternoon we are seeing NW winds of 28 knots over a 15 foot swell. Winds and swell will diminish through Monday and it looks like by Wednesday anglers on larger boats will be able to get back out. These winds and swell are also helping to upwell local waters and dropping water temps that will hopefully make for clean crab tests sooner rather than later.
We will post updated fishing reports as boats get back out.

Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker out of Berkeley went to the Farallons on Saturday 11-7, and they returned with 32 limits of ling cod to 24 pounds. He said, “Everyone started off with shrimp flies, but the rockfish weren’t biting, so we tied on some live bait rigs, and pretty soon, ling cod were coming over the rail right and left.” Ron Little of Sacramento contributed to boat limits with 11 lings to 24 pounds while our friend, Larry Nelson of Oakland came through with 7 lings and a limit of rockfish. They stopped in the bay to jig up the live mackerel before heading to the Islands. Smith added, “The rockfish just didn’t want to bite, and it may have been since there were so many lings around, keeping them tight to the rocks.”
Captain James Smith on the California Dawn also went to the Farallons, and they found biting rockfish on Sunday with 20 limits of both lings and rockfish with a number of olives, coppers, and reds in the sacks. On Saturday, they boated 23 limits of lings on their only drift before switching over to rockfish for limits as well. Both boats have lots of room since the requisite cancellations after the announcement of the closure of Dungeness crab season. The Happy Hooker will run on Veteran’s Day if there are enough fishermen to make the trip a go to the Farallons. Coastal rockfishing has been slow, and by far the best fishing is at the islands.
Three boats went out of Emeryville on Saturday for the trip to the Farallons for 78 limits of rockfish and 122 ling cod to 15 pounds.
All our sponsors are looking forward to the crab season reopening and we are following the story line closely.

More Salmon Headed Our Way thanks to Salmon Stamp Fund, GGSA Legislative Efforts
Hatchery production will increase by another two million fish in 2016

San Francisco  -- Salmon fishermen should enjoy better fishing in a few years due to an extra two million salmon smolts that will be raised and released in 2016.  The extra two million hatchery fish will be bred at the Mokelumne and Feather River hatcheries.  The Salmon Stamp fund, created by a fee commercial salmon trollers and charter boat operators pay into, will pay 50 percent of the cost with the other 50 percent coming from the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife to produce the fish. 
“All salmon fishermen and related businesses owe a big thanks to the Salmon Stamp committee for stepping up to pay for these extra fish which we’ll all benefit from in a few years,” said GGSA executive director John McManus.  “More salmon in the ocean will help our coastal communities in the near future, especially in light of the hit we’ve taken from the drought.”
“Commercial salmon fishermen and charter boat owners pay to make the fishery better and we’re happy to see the money going to produce more salmon,” said Salmon Stamp committee member and Half Moon Bay commercial salmon troller Jim Anderson.
The move to expand hatchery production comes after the Golden Gate Salmon Association’s policy advocate worked through State Senator Mike McGuire’s and Assemblyman Jim Wood’s offices to introduced legislation in the state legislature calling for the extra fish.  That legislation was later withdrawn after the California Department of Fish and Wildlife vowed it would find half of the money needed and work with the commercial Salmon Stamp fund to secure the rest.  The troller’s and charter boat representative agreed to provide $394,000 in 2016 from the Salmon Stamp fund to produce a total of four million “enhancement” fish.  These are “extra” hatchery salmon over and above what the hatchery is required to produce to mitigate for the loss of historic salmon habitat above dams.  The hatcheries regularly produced four million enhancement fish until 2007 when that number dropped to two million, where it’s been ever since.
“Our ability through the Salmon Stamp committee for pay for extra salmon shows what’s possible when we all contribute to keeping our fishery going.  Likewise, we need our fishermen to pay their assessments to their local marketing associations to keep our industry going,” said Monterey based troller and Salmon Stamp committee member Mike Ricketts.  “It’s the marketing associations that send a representative to help us steer where Salmon Stamp funds are spent.”  
The trollers and charter boat members of Salmon Stamp agreed to pay on the condition that all of the fish would be trucked and net pen acclimated in the bay to maximize survival.  The cost of producing these extra fish is expensive because 25 percent of them are fin clipped and tagged with coded wire tags. 
GGSA is exploring a long term alternative way to pay for the four million enhancement fish since Salmon Stamp funds are limited.  GGSA is talking to state officials and Salmon Stamp committee members to find a way to continue this funding.

The Golden Gate Salmon Association ( is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fisherman, businesses, restaurants, a native tribe, environmentalists, elected officials, families and communities that rely on salmon. GGSA’s mission is to protect and restore California’s largest salmon producing habitat comprised of the Central Valley river’s that feed the Bay-Delta ecosystem and the communities that rely on salmon as a long-term, sustainable, commercial, recreational and cultural resource.


Special to The Bee

After yet another revision, the governor’s plan to build twin tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta still makes no economic sense. A closer look at the three types of economic benefits claimed for the project to export water to Central Valley farms and Southern California cities shows why it can’t possibly justify its estimated $15 billion cost. In each case, I give a value derived directly from the optimistic estimates of the state’s consultants and a more intuitive comparison.

Water supply: The latest numbers estimate the tunnels will increase water exports south of the Delta by an annual average of 257,000 acre-feet, with no increase in drought years when it is needed most. The cumulative value of that water supply over 50 years is $2 billion to $3 billion.
For comparison, San Diego’s new desalination plant will provide 56,000 acre-feet of drought-proof water for a capital cost of $1 billion. Desalination is the most costly water supply alternative, but it still provides more than three times the water supply per dollar invested than the Delta tunnels.

Water quality: Because the tunnels would divert higher-quality water from the Sacramento River, the salt and other contaminants in export water supply could decrease by 20 percent. It’s estimated that this could have a cumulative value to water exporters of as much as $2 billion over 50 years.
However, it is important to remember that the tunnels aren’t a water treatment or desalination plant that purifies water. Thus, the water exporter’s gain in water quality will be offset by degraded water quality elsewhere, a concern that is at the center of opposition in the five Delta counties and environmental concerns raised by the EPA and others.

Seismic risk: Listening to the governor, earthquake protection is the main economic argument. But the state’s experts estimated seismic-risk reduction to water exports was only worth a cumulative $400 million over 50 years. Why is this value so low? First, it is a very low probability event even in the most pessimistic models. Second, the outage to water exports isn’t as bad as you hear in TV commercials. Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin correctly described it as “weeks or months” in a recent media call, not years. In a worst-case earthquake scenario, the tunnels might prevent 2 million to 3 million acre-feet in lost water exports, a costly but manageable shortage. For comparison, the current drought has cut surface water supplies to farms and cities by more than 10 million acre-feet.
The earthquake argument is not only economically wrong, it is morally outrageous. The real damage from what some call California’s Katrina would be death and destruction in the Delta itself. The state’s model of this tragedy shows hundreds could die and that 80 percent of the economic damage was from the loss of property and infrastructure in the Delta.
It’s shocking that the state’s response to this are water tunnels that protect only 20 percent of the economic loss and zero percent of the life loss. Levee upgrades are much cheaper and reduce risks for all Californians.
In sum, the economic benefits of the tunnels to the water exporters total about $5 billion of its $15 billion cost, and the benefit-cost ratio is even worse when the negative impacts to the Delta and risks to the environment and upstream interests are considered.
Support among water exporters has been steadily eroding as the economic and financial shortcomings of the plan become better understood.
A few years ago, the state tried to shore up its economic argument by attaching a huge value to the hope of 50-year regulatory protection from the Endangered Species Act, and incorrectly attributing habitat restoration benefits to the tunnels. After heavy criticism, the latest revision to the tunnels plan eliminates the 50-year regulatory assurance and separates environmental restoration. The plan’s already flimsy economic rationale evaporated with this correction.
It is increasingly clear that there are less divisive alternatives that provide more economic and environmental value than the tunnels. No amount of tweaking can save what is fundamentally a bad idea. It’s time to move on.

Jeffrey Michael, an economist, is director of the Center for Business and Policy Research at the University of the Pacific. Read his blog at
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Golden Gate Salmon Association

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Party Boat Contacts:
The Emeryville Sportfishing Center is currently booking salmon and potluck trips begin in late April. They have a great promotion that when you take six trips your "lucky" seventh trip is free. This is good on any of their boats. Reservations can be made at 510 654-6040.

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5-day plot - Wind Speed at 46026

5-day plot - Wave Height at 46026



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