The 2016-17 Pacific herring season in San Francisco Bay ended with a reported spawning biomass estimate of 18,300 tons, an increase over last year’s estimate of 14,900 tons. The historical (1979-present) spawning biomass average equals 49,400 tons and this was the third year of below average herring returns. The graph below shows population levels and the proportion of commercial catch over time.
Pacific Herring Reported Spawning Biomass San Francisco Bay 1979-2017
There were 13 spawn events recorded through the season, starting in mid-December and lasting through the month of February. The spawn areas included; Richardson Bay, Millbrae Shoreline, Alameda Rock Wall, Coyote Point, Angel Island and Point Richmond. A majority of the spawn events and herring egg deposition occurred in Richardson Bay during the 2016-17 season.
2016-17 Pacific Herring Spawn Area Map San Francisco Bay
The commercial gill net herring fishery landed 37 tons by the 8 vessels that participated. This was approximately 5% of the 750 ton gill net quota for the season. The Herring Eggs on Kelp fishery remained inactive during 2016-17.
Staff are finalizing aging analysis and will be working to complete the San Francisco Bay Annual Season Summary. The summary will be available on the State-Managed California Commercial Pacific Herring Fishery Web Page in July.
CDFW in collaboration with the fishing and conservation community continues working to develop a Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Pacific herring in California. Please check out the Pacific Herring FMP Web Page for more details and to view the anticipated timeline for completion. Please also stay tuned for more opportunities for involvement with FMP development later this summer.
A commercial herring permittee survey was mailed to all California permit holders this week. This brief survey will help inform Fishery Management Plan (FMP) development and collect input on potential changes to commercial regulations for Pacific herring in California. Please take time to complete the survey and provide important feedback to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). If you have questions please reach out to staff indicated on the survey. Your time and effort is appreciated.
As FMP development continues, please stay tuned for more stakeholder engagement opportunities later this summer. An updated timeline has also been added to the CDFW website under Pacific Herring Fishery Management Plan.
A herring spawn occurred inside Richardson Bay this past week, primarily in the mooring field, mid-bay. There was additional spawning in the cove near Dunphy Park to the Southwest. Herring have been staging off the Sausalito shelf for the last couple of weeks so this was not surprising. The CDFW research trawl vessel caught more herring off the shelf at the end of the week which were also in spawning condition. Given the location and spawn condition, herring will likely continue to move in and spawn in Richardson Bay. Stay tuned for more updates.
Herring were caught in the North Bay this week off Sausalito and Racoon Straight by the CDFW research trawl. Most of the herring were ripe – spawning condition. Bird and marine mammals were active throughout the area so a spawn is likely to occur in the vicinity. As of Friday no new spawn had been detected but staff will continue to monitor for any new events.
The Department was notified at weeks end that the commercial herring buyers would be ending buying operations for the season. Effectively closing the season prior to the March 15th season end date in commercial herring regulations. The total landings for the 2017 season was 37.2 tons, with the Even Platoon landing 17.9 and the Odd Platoon 19.3 tons. The herring eggs on kelp fishery was inactive this year.
Stay tuned for more updates as we close in on the final weeks of the San Francisco Bay herring season. The Department will also be holding public meetings related to the development of the Herring Fishery Management Plan this spring so look for those announcements as dates are made available.
There was a very small spawn detected earlier this week in the Richardson Bay anchorage, primarily on eelgrass. The spawn though relatively small did have birds and a few marine mammals working the area.
The CDFW trawl vessel did catch a sample of herring on the Sausalito Shelf on Wednesday this week. The fish were in close proximity to the spawn detected earlier by the spawn survey. The fish were mostly ripe (ready to spawn), with 47 ripe and 3 spawn outs. The fish were also of good size with an average body length of 179 mm. For comparison the average size of the research catch for the season is 176 mm, with a minimum of 117 and maximum body length of 204 mm.
Stay dry and tuned in for more reports as we move into the final weeks of the herring season.
Richardson Bay looking toward Mount Tam – CDFW