The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding sturgeon anglers to return their 2013 Sturgeon Fishing Report Cards, as required by law. Although the deadline to report their catch was Jan. 31, so far only about 8,000 (or 15 percent) of the 55,000 report cards sold have been returned. The sport fishing regulations require that all sturgeon anglers return their Report Cards, even the sturgeon anglers who did not encounter sturgeon and who did not fish for white sturgeon.
Without the necessary data gleaned from the returned report cards, CDFW’s scientific understanding of the two sturgeon populations is incomplete. This makes it harder for scientists to recognize overfishing of the diminished white sturgeon population and to document accidental catch of the threatened green sturgeon. In this case, addressing the uncertainty could mean new harvest restrictions.
“Anglers who do not return report cards are complicating efforts to protect the fishery and rebuild both sturgeon populations,” said Marty Gingras, CDFW Sturgeon Taskforce member. “We’re asking anglers to send the information to us now, even though the deadline has passed. In this case, it’s truly better late than never.”
California’s white sturgeon and green sturgeon populations were substantially reduced by commercial fishing in the 19th century and the recreational and commercial sturgeon fisheries were (with minor exceptions) closed from 1901 through 1953. Only recreational fishing for sturgeon has been allowed since 1954, and that fishery has become increasingly restricted over time in an effort to rebuild the populations and protect the fishery. Without accurate reporting of the catch, additional sturgeon fishing restrictions may go into effect in the future.
In hopes that substantially more report cards will be submitted and to avoid possible duplication of effort, CDFW staff will postpone analysis of 2013 report card data. Anglers can use the CDFW website to login and report at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales/CustomerSearch/Begin, or can return the cards by mail to the address printed on the card.
Recreational fishermen may harvest white sturgeon between 40” and 60” and are required to purchase and return their report cards. Green sturgeon is a federally threatened species and may not be harvested under any circumstances.
White and green sturgeon are anadromous, meaning they move from the salt and brackish water to freshwater to spawn. They are both native California species and can live to be more than 100 years old.
Logo courtesy California Department of Fish and Wildlife