Shad to run again... - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 9 Old 05-21-2016 Thread Starter
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post #2 of 9 Old 05-21-2016
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Re: Shad to run again...

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but they've been doing this since I was a kid, and none of their efforts are worth squat as long as ASMFC and National Marine Fisheries Service continues to permit a commercial offshore intercept fishery, which harvests the fish long before they have the opportunity to enter the rivers to spawn. If they were real serious about this, they would just milk the fish, raise them in a hatchery environment, then place them in the rivers so they could migrate back to the ocean naturally. In addition, the intercept fishery would still have to be closed, which the feds refuse to do. Add to the intercept fishery, a pound net fishery where huge numbers of shad and herring are killed as bycatch (bykill), and those fish are also allowed to be kept and sold on the open market.

This is about the 10th agreement these agencies have signed since 1970, and nothing has changed.

Gary
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post #3 of 9 Old 05-22-2016
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Re: Shad to run again...

Fish ladders do not seem to work. Only thing that works for sure in the PNW with salmon is removing the dams. All the fish hatchery stuff (IMHO) have not worked as well as just a few wild rivers.

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post #4 of 9 Old 05-22-2016
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Re: Shad to run again...

The fish lift/ladder combination at Conowingo Dam cost a huge amount of money, both to construct and operate. And to some degree, it worked, but not very well. keep in mind that the dam was built in 1920, and the shad runs still were pretty incredible until the mid 1970s, which is about the time that the offshore intercept fishery began. If you kill them before they reach the spawning grounds, then reproduction is not even remotely possible. Same goes for blueback and branch herring, both of which have been pretty much wiped out by the same commercial fishery.

Hatcheries do work, as was first witnessed with stocking lakes and tidal rivers with largemouth bass during the early 1960s. This was a time when the North East River was clogged with various forms of aquatic grasses that supported what was deemed the best largemouth bass fishery in the nation. It was here that huge numbers of largemouth bass were netted and placed in the nearby hatchery in the town of Elkton, spawned out, and hundreds of millions of juveniles were then transported throughout the US to be stocked in thousands of locations. The project was very successful.

While the fish ladders worked in the PNW, the salmon stocks were so depleted by commercial interests that the fishery had to be supplemented with a huge stocking program, which is what resurrected that fishery.

In nearby Delaware and Pennsylvania, their American shad fishery was restored in the Delaware River's upper reaches by supplemental stocking that took place for more than a decade. That fishery had been completely wiped out by commercial fishing. And, while it is still a mere skeleton of what it was a century ago, Delaware's shad runs have become a multi-million dollar industry for the recreational catch and release fisherman.

While the striped bass moratorium of the early 1980s was heralded as the big deal in restoring the striped bass fishery throughout the East Coast, in reality, supplemental stocking played a huge role in that restoration process. Again, this fishery was essentially wiped out by commercial interests, as they frequently targeted the big spawning stocks as they migrated to the spawning grounds during the winter months. I knew one commercial netter who fished out of Tilghman Island who often bragged of 10,000 daily catches in his gill nets during January and February. He told me that 90 percent of those fish were huge, roe laden females, fish that did not have the opportunity to spawn.

The striped bass hatchery program was the result of a joint effort by recreational and commercial fishermen in Maryland and was established where the old largemouth bass hatchery in Elkton was located. At the time, Maryland DNR Fisheries biologists said the hatchery would not work and the stripers could only spawn naturally - DNR was dead wrong. Only a half-million juvenile stripers were stocked that first year, but tagging studies revealed a 75 percent survival rate, which is huge compared to less than 1 percent in the wild.

As I stated at the onset, the best remedy to this would be to stop the offshore intercept fishery for shad, and the same goes for gill netting for striped bass. Fisheries scientist James Price once said "I don't know of a single fishery in the US that has been wiped out by pollution - they have all been decimated by overfishing, mainly by commercial interests."

All the best,

Gary
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post #5 of 9 Old 05-23-2016
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Re: Shad to run again...

It seems to me that commercial fisherman have a genetic defect where they are missing the "self-preservation" gene.
These guys seem perfectly content to put themselves and their offspring out of work.
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post #6 of 9 Old 05-23-2016
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Re: Shad to run again...

Quote:
Originally Posted by travlineasy View Post
The fish lift/ladder combination at Conowingo Dam cost a huge amount of money, both to construct and operate. And to some degree, it worked, but not very well. keep in mind that the dam was built in 1920, and the shad runs still were pretty incredible until the mid 1970s, which is about the time that the offshore intercept fishery began. If you kill them before they reach the spawning grounds, then reproduction is not even remotely possible. Same goes for blueback and branch herring, both of which have been pretty much wiped out by the same commercial fishery.

Hatcheries do work, as was first witnessed with stocking lakes and tidal rivers with largemouth bass during the early 1960s. This was a time when the North East River was clogged with various forms of aquatic grasses that supported what was deemed the best largemouth bass fishery in the nation. It was here that huge numbers of largemouth bass were netted and placed in the nearby hatchery in the town of Elkton, spawned out, and hundreds of millions of juveniles were then transported throughout the US to be stocked in thousands of locations. The project was very successful.

While the fish ladders worked in the PNW, the salmon stocks were so depleted by commercial interests that the fishery had to be supplemented with a huge stocking program, which is what resurrected that fishery.

In nearby Delaware and Pennsylvania, their American shad fishery was restored in the Delaware River's upper reaches by supplemental stocking that took place for more than a decade. That fishery had been completely wiped out by commercial fishing. And, while it is still a mere skeleton of what it was a century ago, Delaware's shad runs have become a multi-million dollar industry for the recreational catch and release fisherman.

While the striped bass moratorium of the early 1980s was heralded as the big deal in restoring the striped bass fishery throughout the East Coast, in reality, supplemental stocking played a huge role in that restoration process. Again, this fishery was essentially wiped out by commercial interests, as they frequently targeted the big spawning stocks as they migrated to the spawning grounds during the winter months. I knew one commercial netter who fished out of Tilghman Island who often bragged of 10,000 daily catches in his gill nets during January and February. He told me that 90 percent of those fish were huge, roe laden females, fish that did not have the opportunity to spawn.

The striped bass hatchery program was the result of a joint effort by recreational and commercial fishermen in Maryland and was established where the old largemouth bass hatchery in Elkton was located. At the time, Maryland DNR Fisheries biologists said the hatchery would not work and the stripers could only spawn naturally - DNR was dead wrong. Only a half-million juvenile stripers were stocked that first year, but tagging studies revealed a 75 percent survival rate, which is huge compared to less than 1 percent in the wild.

As I stated at the onset, the best remedy to this would be to stop the offshore intercept fishery for shad, and the same goes for gill netting for striped bass. Fisheries scientist James Price once said "I don't know of a single fishery in the US that has been wiped out by pollution - they have all been decimated by overfishing, mainly by commercial interests."

All the best,

Gary
EXCELLENT analysis !!!!!!
Summary: too many people, not enough recipes (for people).

Recipe for cooking shad:
Take a large shad, fillet, then with pliers pull out large bones.
Place filet on 1/2" thick oak board
Cover (smother) fillet and board with onions, bacon, capers, string beans, etc.
Place in oven at 275, cook for FIVE to SIX hours or until the ~7 million bones dissolve.
Hold board and cooked fish over garbage can, dump fish, eat the board.

Gary is correct NJ, NY, Penna and Delaware restored the shad fishery in the 1960s by continually adding hatchery fry into the Delaware River. The shad 'runs' in the Delaware have been substantial since that time. One of the reasons for the success is that the Delaware has NO 'full' dams (with the exception of the full dam at the confluence of the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers blocking the Lehigh River), only 'wing dams' which raise the water by a few feet, the center of the wing system is completely open. In some years, one can literally almost walk across the shad migrating up the Delaware.
However, the important aspect of the upper Delaware River is that it was never despoiled by industrialization or farming practices or massive sewage run-off from 'cities' (above the confluence of the Lehigh) and there it remains the cleanest and purest river on the east coast. The Delaware river is so pure and CLEAN that the power plants located along it do not have to 'demineralize' and return the water to the river with no added 'gunk'/silt/human crap, etc. The danger for the upper Delaware River (and the Pocono Mountains) is that this area is becoming a distant, intense hideously ugly sprawling suburb for New York City.

The same was attempted with striped bass on the Delaware; but, was not ever completely successful as commercial fishing in the lower bay always seemed to harvest the amount greater than what was added by the hatchery operations.
More importantly the once massive menhaden fishery along the NJ coast, Delaware Bay and Chesapeake is now completely gone, probably will never return.
The eel fishery on the Delaware, once much larger than the shad fishery is 'gone'; yet the few remaining eels are being fished out due to the demand from Europe where the europeans caught all their eels and the EU rivers no longer produce even few eels.
The very lucrative eel fishery on the Chesapeake has resumed; but, obvious overfishing is apparent .... no more eels to be seen in the small freshwater feeder creeks in spring.

Chesapeake - stripers again dwindling, crabs and oysters at historic lows, menhaden - probably not enough to restock even with a moratorium, the various species of shad - rare. White perch ('ocean perch') and few remaining eels now under intense pressure.
All the while the city of Baltimore, with sovereign immunity, continues to dump zillions of gallons of raw sewage into the Chesapeake. Anyone who risks swimming in the upper Ches. during the height of summer now risks a very serious mycobacteria skin infection - sewage!!!
---- 'the tyranny of the commons'. Sometimes one thinks about what positive results would happen if the commercial fisherman would fish for PEOPLE.

Actually american shad is a wonderful eating fish .... you just have to slow cook for hours at relatively low heat, so that all the bones are either dissolved or softened. A developed taste, Yum.
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Last edited by RichH; 05-23-2016 at 12:27 PM.
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post #7 of 9 Old 05-26-2016
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Re: Shad to run again...

Gary, that may work in the east, but salmon were not brought back by fish hatcheries. Hatcheries up the snake had as little as one percent return, yet a few years ago we had one of our largest salmon returns ever- where did they all go? To the fish hatcheries? No, to the wild rivers that spawned them. As a Zoologist, I think you are buying what the press says- that hatchery fish n game have saved the wildlife.
Now local fisherman would "fish out" the fish if they could, but at least here in the PNW, it is a matter of habitat. As we clean the habitat from toxins dating back to WW2, the fish are returning. And as we remove small dams on rivers going directly into the ocean we get fish.
As for your largemouth bass, all you have to do is plant them. They quickly fill the predator niche in warm water.
The Shad, btw is an interesting fish in the concentration of salt that it can withstand. Certain species could grow in our Great Salt Lake. Thank goodness no one has ever put in those fish here, they would quickly decimate the brine shrimp industry. But an interesting fish nonetheless. My bachelors degree was in zoology. What was yours?

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post #8 of 9 Old 05-26-2016
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Re: Shad to run again...

My specialty was cardio-pulmonary medicine before I became an outdoor writer. I was fortunate in that I had very good working relations with the fisheries biologists from the Maryland Department Of Natural Resources, Virginia Marine Resources Commission, National Marine Fisheries Service and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. These individuals provided me with a great education, both first hand and when I interviewed them for articles published in various magazines and newspapers. I got to do some really neat things, such as wade into the collection tank at Conowingo Dam and sort out the American shad from the gizzard shad, carp and catfish that were also trapped in the lift device. I also participated in their tagging programs on both American shad and hickory shad, which are also frequently targeted by the intercept fishery.

If you recall the striped bass moratorium of the 1980s, I chaired the commission that brought about that moratorium. At that time, I was also appointed to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission as a Maryland state delegate for the East Coast Striped Bass Advisory Committee.

When I moved to Spokane, Washington, I got to visit the salmon hatchery at The Dalles and helped fisheries biologists there tag migrating salmon, while also looking at the migrants with a black light as they passed by a window in the fish ladder to determine which ones were hatchery fish. When these fish were released, they were dyed with a special dye that they retained for life. I don't recall what the percentage of fish migrating up the Columbia River were hatchery stock, but it was never very high. Of course, in nature, the percentage of surviving juveniles that make the complete cycle is extremely small as well. I recall being told that in the wild, an adult salmon was essentially responsible for reproducing itself, plus one more adult - that's it! With striped bass, the figure was a bit high, but not much higher. Shad were about the same as salmon.

So, my fisheries science education is more hands on than classroom, and I was fortunate enough to be in the field with some of the most knowledgeable fisheries scientists in the nation. It was a neat time in my life and I will never forget those individuals.

All the best,

Gary
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post #9 of 9 Old 05-28-2016
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Re: Shad to run again...

I agree Gary that was the thinking at the time, but times are changing. In Northern BC where I vacation, Salmon of all types are abundant. Not so further south where there are fish hatcheries/fish farms. This article, written by two experts in the field, may explain why.
Salmon Nation: The Problem with Hatcheries
It's not as simple as the more fish the merrier. Hatchery fish carry defective genes and diseases. I harvest salmon and other fish offshore, I would hate to see them disappear. But I feel like we are going about this in the wrong way.
BTW: hatcheries started in the 1870's. Perhaps it's time to scientifically study if the idea (taking wild fish and artificially breeding them) really has merit. We are saying that we are smarter than millions of years of evolution. I am not so sure that we are.

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Last edited by newt; 05-28-2016 at 04:17 PM.
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