NET-PEN PROGRAM

2013 Chinook

The missing adipose fin marks this fish as a likely net-pen release. The coded wire tag in its head will provide important data to the CDFW.

The Chinook CWT and enhancement program is very popular among our donors. The sight of the MBSTP net-pen adjacent to the Santa Cruz Harbor boat ramp near the beginning of salmon season generates plenty of excitement. Volunteers get the net-pen out of storage each year and assemble it in the harbor. They then help tend it and release the fish after their acclimation period. The Project is for fishing enhancement and collection of scientific data through the coded Wire tag program (CWT). It also ensures an increase in the salmon population, which improves the health of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The fish are all coded wire tagged. Anglers recover the tags, which are then used by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for studying a variety of salmon population dynamics and the efficacy of net-pen acclimation. This 5-year study has not been summarized for publication, but early indications are that thousands of the net-pen fish reach maturity and are caught by anglers and professional fishers in the Monterey Bay. The net-pen Chinook are intended to be a “terminal” fishery. That is, they are not expected to spawn. History has shown that Chinook salmon will not naturalize in the rivers and creeks of the Monterey Bay Region. When conditions in the ocean are good for salmon there is a return of the net-pen fish to Santa Cruz Harbor. These fish are caught by eager anglers. In the Summer of 2013 youth fishing days were designated in Santa Cruz Harbor. Every-other-day fishing in the harbor was restricted to kids 14 and under. MBSTP volunteers were on-hand during the youth days to teach the kids about salmon fishing, conservation, and good citizenship. During the Summer of 2014 MBSTP is planning a youth salmon derby to be operated in the upper harbor. The Harbor Management is very supportive of MBSTP involvement. In the past MBSTP has also operated Chinook net-pen operations at Monterey and Moss Landing Harbors. The Monterey operation had to be stopped because of excessive destruction of the pens by marine mammals. The location in Moss Landing proved to be too consumptive of space, but the Moss Landing Harbor would like to have MBSTP resume at a different location in that harbor.

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