The Department of Fish and Game has completed its annual sturgeon tagging program in Bay Area waters. The tagging operation is used to help manage California’s green and white sturgeon populations.
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The tags are white plastic disks that are smaller than a dime. Anyone who catches a DFG tagged fish is encouraged to return the tag. DFG pays a reward for the return of certain tags, and those tags are clearly labeled. Additional details about the tagging program can be found here: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=34559
Information received from anglers about tagged sturgeon complements the details submitted on sturgeon fishing report cards as well as data from party boats, creel surveys, surveys for juvenile sturgeon and various special studies.
“Protecting the white sturgeon fishery and the sturgeon populations requires research, management and enforcement,” said DFG Program Manager Marty Gingras.
This year’s sturgeon tagging efforts were led by DFG Environmental Scientist Mike Harris and the crew of the research vessels Striper II and New Alosa. The Striper II was constructed in 1966 and has been used several decades for this purpose.
Working in Suisun and San Pablo bays from Aug. 1 to Oct. 30, the crews tagged 170 white sturgeon and 13 green sturgeon, and collected information on nearly as many sturgeon that were either too small or too large to tag.
Sturgeon can live more than 100 years and weigh over 500 pounds, but anglers most-often catch sturgeon 3-4 feet in length. The Sacramento-San Joaquin river system is the southern-most spawning grounds for both white sturgeon and green sturgeon. The sturgeon fishery in California was once closed for decades due to overfishing.
Commercial harvest of white sturgeon is not now allowed. Recreational harvest of white sturgeon is now regulated by size limit, a daily bag limit and an annual bag limit. Green sturgeon is a threatened species and neither commercial or recreational harvest of those fish is now allowed.
Serialized tags are provided with each sturgeon fishing report card to help enforce the annual bag limit. To enable law enforcement to cross-reference the tag with a particular card, anglers must permanently fix a tag to each kept white sturgeon until the fish is processed for consumption.