The mysterious decline of Puget Sound herring

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by CacheCreek, Mar 27, 2013.

  1. skyrise

    skyrise Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2003
    Messages:
    699
    Likes Received:
    84
    Location:
    everett, wa.
    we used to fish off of Edmonds/Meadowdale back in my high school and after days for Salmon.
    remember how we would complain about landing all those unwanted bottom fish, cod, flounder, bass and the pesky herring that would peck at our bait.
    and how you could at times see schools of herring at certain times and places.
    sad how we are writing now about how bad things are for Steelhead/Salmon/herring etc.
    do remember the talk about the commercial fishing on herring starting in the 80's.
    seems the state's only interest most of the time is making money for commercial fishers.
    do Herring spawn that close to shore ? for some reason i thought they spawned out a little deeper.
     
  2. Stonefish

    Stonefish Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2003
    Messages:
    4,174
    Likes Received:
    1,946
    Location:
    Pipers Creek
    Having fished the sound since the 60's, there are definately a lot less herring today then back then.
    I can recall going salmon fishing many times with my dad where we never bought herring. We'd launch the boat, find a herring ball and take one swipe into it with the salmon net. We'd have plenty of bait for the day.

    David,
    As far as the true cod go, we used to catch a lot of them off Pt Fosdick up until the mid 80's, then they disappeared.
    We'd only keep them during the winter, but caught plenty of them while trolling for salmon as well all year round. I can remember lots of boats mooching for for them before they disappeared.
     
  3. Jonathan Tachell

    Jonathan Tachell Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2004
    Messages:
    845
    Likes Received:
    242
    Location:
    Gig Harbor, Washington
    The commercial trawlers wiped the true cod out in the sound. It is incredibly dumb that the wdfw let them have a commercial fishery of that type in such a small body of water. However, the true cod are making a very slow comeback. For the past twenty years no one in southern Puget sound ever caught a true cod but in the last three or four years more and more are being caught incidentally by anglers. I have caught about eight in the past three years while jigging for herring in May. The main limiting factor for almost all species in Puget sound is loss of habitat whether it be eel grass, kelp beds or sunken boats that were leveled by trawlers or have disintegrated over time. If you want to see an explosion of bottomfish in Puget sound all it would take is some artificial reefs but for some reason the state is dead set against that even though it works and is utilized by most coastal states.
     
  4. Stonefish

    Stonefish Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2003
    Messages:
    4,174
    Likes Received:
    1,946
    Location:
    Pipers Creek
    I'd think breaking up the old 520 bridge would yield some good artifical reef material.
     
  5. DimeBrite

    DimeBrite MA-9 Beach Stalker

    Joined:
    May 7, 2007
    Messages:
    1,245
    Likes Received:
    920
    Location:
    Marine Area 9
    Wow, some great stories in this thread. I wish I could have experienced how abundant Puget Sound was many years ago. In 2011 and 2012 there were "good" numbers of juvenile herring near the beaches in MA-9, but nothing compared to historical numbers I'm sure. The coastal armor for the railroad tracks along the eastside of Puget Sound has really screwed up the beaches (very little sand formation in most places). I think this is why Kitsap fishes so much better for salmon than my more local metro area beaches. Let's not forget about sandlance numbers too, they are very important for resident salmon and cutts. I'm a fan of artificial reefs and restricted shore development (too late for the latter out here). Regarding Cherry Point, I wonder how much impact the refineries have on local baitfish?
     
    Richard Torres likes this.
  6. kelvin

    kelvin Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2009
    Messages:
    2,113
    Likes Received:
    377
    Location:
    Seattle,WA
    what do you think it would take to have them let people place artifical reefs?
     
  7. dryflylarry

    dryflylarry "Chasing Riseforms"

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2003
    Messages:
    4,142
    Likes Received:
    656
    Location:
    Near the Fjord
    AMEN!!!!
     
  8. Jonathan Tachell

    Jonathan Tachell Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2004
    Messages:
    845
    Likes Received:
    242
    Location:
    Gig Harbor, Washington
    Considering how strict the rules are and how many hoops have to be jumped through to do anything in Puget sound anymore, I'm pretty sure that they would not allow individuals to create artificial reefs. The wdfw would have to get the ok from several agencies and actually push for it to happen. That being said if enough people voiced their opinion in favor of artificial reefs and volunteered to help in the process I'm sure wdfw could be convinced to make it happen. Especially since they get grants from the feds to monitor rockfish in Puget sound. Why not enhance the population instead of just observing them as their numbers remain stagnant or in decline.
     
  9. mbowers

    mbowers Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2008
    Messages:
    263
    Likes Received:
    132
    Location:
    Jupiter, FL / Victoria, BC
    Since the problem seems to be sand recruitment to the beaches and eelgrass spawning habitat but not habitat for adult fish, artificial reefs would not help IMHO. http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2008/06/19/are-artificial-reefs-good-for-the-environment.html

    I would guess removing the armor on the beaches is not likely to fly. Maybe adding the appropriate type and amount of sand to the seaward side of the armored beaches to make up for the sand that is not being naturally recruited would be a better option IMHO :)
     
  10. Jonathan Tachell

    Jonathan Tachell Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2004
    Messages:
    845
    Likes Received:
    242
    Location:
    Gig Harbor, Washington
    So how do you explain that within months of any artificial structure being put into Puget sound that rockfish, lingcod and countless other marine life utilizes it? Every rock jetty sharp rock drop off, submerged boat, narrows bridge and bunch of steel cables in the sound has bottomfish on it. But these locations are so few and small that they cannot support many fish or receive much fishing pressure from rec anglers or spear divers. Trust me I have seen it happen. If you dump a few tons of boulders or concrete in the sound you will have fish on it. I'm not disagree that a shortage of eel grass and kelp is not deleterious to the bottom fish population but I am positive the sound, right now, could support more bottom fish if artificial reefs were put in place.
     
  11. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Messages:
    3,249
    Likes Received:
    1,375
    Location:
    Marysville, Washington
    It should be noted that different species have different habitat needs/requirements. High relieve hard structures (rock piles or artificial reefs) are the preferred habitat for rockfish, lings etc. Herring require much different habitats they need spawning areas and then become much more pelagic in their feeding needs than rockfish etc. Don't see artificial reefs being a significant "solution" for herring production problems.

    BTW -
    Things like bridge debris can be pretty "dirty" - and as such not a preferred material for such structures. It should also be noted that throughout Puget Sound where ever there is the needed currents to sweep the finer gravels and sand away there are exposed "hard bottoms" that are being used by rockfish etc. Placing artificial reefs in areas without hard bottoms means that it is probable that the currents to sweep away that smaller material is not present and such reefs will ultimately be buried. As that burying process goes on the "effectiveness" of such reefs are lost.

    Curt
     
  12. Jonathan Tachell

    Jonathan Tachell Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2004
    Messages:
    845
    Likes Received:
    242
    Location:
    Gig Harbor, Washington
    Yeah curt I was speaking on the rock fish and lingcod issue as it came up in the thread. And of course your absolutely right about the need for eel grass and kelp for herring spawning and nurseries.
     
  13. mbowers

    mbowers Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2008
    Messages:
    263
    Likes Received:
    132
    Location:
    Jupiter, FL / Victoria, BC

    If the marine life prefers that type of structure they will be attracted to it from a wide area of less desirable habitat and relocate. The animal density might be way up in the 100 sq yards near that structure, but if you look at the density of animals per sq mile it may well be the same, it's just that almost all the animals are in 100 sq yards of that sq mile. Overfishing is now actually easier to achieve for humans and maybe for seals too.

    I'm not saying artificial reefs can't help, just that they have to be carefully analysed to determine if there really is a net benefit.

    If the forage fish were booming while the predators were not then I could see more predator habitat helping, but if the forage fish are crashing (which I think is what all the data shows), I don't think extra habitat will increase the number of lingcod. Are the fish on the artificial structure big mature fish or just little guys happy to be king of the hill? If it's all big fish then I could believe habitat would make a difference but if it's small fish I would guess that forage base is the cause: just not enough food around to grow big fish to compete for habitat so adding more habitat is not the most important fix.
     
  14. Richard Torres

    Richard Torres Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2003
    Messages:
    1,412
    Likes Received:
    92
    The tracks have been there for over a hundred years.
    (accident just south of Picnic Point back in the day)
    Capture.PNG
    Did a mud slide cause this? That I don't know.
    The tracks were (and still are) our sign of progress. Back then nobody really thought of (or cared) what the effects they would have on the beaches . Without them we wouldn't be where we are today. I can only visualize how much better the fishing might be if they weren't there.
     
  15. Derek Day

    Derek Day Rockyday

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2005
    Messages:
    575
    Likes Received:
    148
    Location:
    Olympia
    There is a significant amount of shoreline armoring being removed (mostly on public land) and there are efforts to add more sand (beach nourishment), which can often be as effective at reducing errosion as traditional hard armoring. Nourishment is a replacement for the natural sediment that gets cut off when sediment suply sources (feeder bluffs) get armored--it however doesn't fix the root of the problem (just like mitigation hatcheries on dammed rivers). It's a solution that requires maintenence in perpituity. There are also efforts to utilize more "soft" armoring where it's actually necessary to protect infrastructue. In snohomish, they're trying to get funding to do a pilot project that would use dredge spoils from the snohomish river to nourish the beach in front of a section of railroad tracks--making the best of a bad situation.

    The 'crux' of the armoring issue is areas that will be armored in the next 10-20 years (Mason and Kitsap Counties have the highest new armoring rates). The best way to protect beaches is to have appropriate shoreline setbacks. These are dictaed by local Soreline Master Programs, local codification of the Shoreline Management Act. If you don't build too close to the shore, you don't need a bulkhead. These are written ansd decided at the local level and approved by Ecology. If you care about beachs in these areas, check with your city or county government to see if they're still in the public input/comment period (Mason County is curently reviewing thiers) and let them know that you care about having heathy beaches.