Event Title

Steps to understand the decline, and aid in recovery for Cherry Point herring

Presentation Abstract

The Cherry Point herring were once the largest and most prolific herring population of the 18 herring stocks in Washington’s Salish Sea waters. Since the 1973 spawning surveys, the Cherry Point herring stock has plummeted from nearly 15,000 metric tons to a low of 372 tons in 2017. Cherry Point (CP) herring are genetically distinct from other stocks in the Salish Sea, have a unique spawning time - later in spring than other regional stocks, and add a unique biodiversity component to the Salish Sea ecosystem. Concerned scientists, natural resource managers and local environmentalists are investigating the reasons for their decline and actions that will support their recovery. In addition to the precipitous drop in CP spawning population, spawning areas for CP herring have gradually diminished and shifted northward. In the 1990’s when further development along the CP Reach appeared inevitable, concern arose that the limited remaining habitat areas used for spawning around CP needed protection. As a result, Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) established the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve in 2000. A priority management action for the reserve is to determine the present status of the CP herring population and investigate potential causes for the species decline. In 2016, DNR contracted Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife to gillnet throughout the spawning season targeting shallow areas with verified herring spawning activity. The findings from two seasons of gillnetting established the effectiveness of the methods in collecting actively spawning fish and the spawning area retracted to only the northern portion of the historic spawning grounds. Genetic work verified that the herring caught are CP stock. Age class and structure showed changes vs. 30 years of historical data, with an increase in spawning age to 4-5-year old fish, and a more normal age distribution including 8-year old fish.

Session Title

Posters: Species & Food Webs

Conference Track

SSE18: Posters

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (Seattle, WA : 2018)

Document Type

Event

SSEC Identifier

SSE18-120

Start Date

5-4-2018 11:30 AM

End Date

5-4-2018 1:30 PM

Type of Presentation

Poster

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Geographic Coverage

Salish Sea (B.C. and Wash.)

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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Apr 5th, 11:30 AM Apr 5th, 1:30 PM

Steps to understand the decline, and aid in recovery for Cherry Point herring

The Cherry Point herring were once the largest and most prolific herring population of the 18 herring stocks in Washington’s Salish Sea waters. Since the 1973 spawning surveys, the Cherry Point herring stock has plummeted from nearly 15,000 metric tons to a low of 372 tons in 2017. Cherry Point (CP) herring are genetically distinct from other stocks in the Salish Sea, have a unique spawning time - later in spring than other regional stocks, and add a unique biodiversity component to the Salish Sea ecosystem. Concerned scientists, natural resource managers and local environmentalists are investigating the reasons for their decline and actions that will support their recovery. In addition to the precipitous drop in CP spawning population, spawning areas for CP herring have gradually diminished and shifted northward. In the 1990’s when further development along the CP Reach appeared inevitable, concern arose that the limited remaining habitat areas used for spawning around CP needed protection. As a result, Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) established the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve in 2000. A priority management action for the reserve is to determine the present status of the CP herring population and investigate potential causes for the species decline. In 2016, DNR contracted Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife to gillnet throughout the spawning season targeting shallow areas with verified herring spawning activity. The findings from two seasons of gillnetting established the effectiveness of the methods in collecting actively spawning fish and the spawning area retracted to only the northern portion of the historic spawning grounds. Genetic work verified that the herring caught are CP stock. Age class and structure showed changes vs. 30 years of historical data, with an increase in spawning age to 4-5-year old fish, and a more normal age distribution including 8-year old fish.