The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding sturgeon anglers to return their 2017 Sturgeon Fishing Report Cards as required by law. Although the deadline to report their catch was Jan. 31, 2018, so far about 13,754 – or 31 percent – of the 44,374 report cards have been returned. Sport fishing regulations require that all sturgeon anglers return their report cards, even those who did not encounter sturgeon and who did not fish for white sturgeon.
“Anglers who return their report cards are providing very good data, helping to protect the white sturgeon fishery, and helping to rebuild the populations of white sturgeon and threatened green sturgeon,” said Marty Gingras, CDFW Sturgeon Program Manager. “This is especially important given the years of drought that harmed recent sturgeon reproduction.”
California’s white sturgeon and green sturgeon are anadromous, meaning they move from the ocean or brackish water to spawn in freshwater. Because their populations were reduced by commercial fishing in the 19th century, sturgeon fisheries were mostly closed from 1901 through 1953. Since 1954, recreational fishing for white sturgeon has been allowed, and the fishery continues to be restricted in an effort to rebuild it. Green sturgeon is a federally listed threatened species and may not be fished for or harvested.
Anglers can return their overdue report cards by mail to the address printed on the card or – until April 1, 2018 — they can report online at the CDFW website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing#44521416-harvest-reporting.
If the pathetic rate of tag returns does not improve, California may have to address the problem the way Oregon did for some hunts – by imposing a $25 non-reporting fee when a license is purchased the following year.