National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



Given all the obstacles to rebuilding West Coast salmon stocks, I'd wager you didn't know marijuana was one of them.

To clarify, it's not as if salmon have become stoners with a bad case of the munchies who now swim upstream in a desperate search for a bag of Doritos.

Rather, according to a story in the Eureka (Calif.) Times Record, the conservation group Friends of the Eel River says marijuana cultivation is having a negative impact upon coho salmon and the watershed. It was the topic of a presentation the group's executive director, Scott Greacen, was giving at California's 39th Annual Fisheries Forum in Sacramento on Wednesday.

The daylong forum enables those involved in fisheries and aquaculture in the Golden State to directly address the state legislature about issues important to them.

Greacen was to discuss the negative impacts marijuana cultivation is having upon California's third largest salmon producing river. The group says poorly planned outdoor growing operations are resulting in problems stemming from over-use of fertilizers and pesticides that are toxic to fish, growers taking river water for their operations, and poor land-use practices that result in sediment slipping into the rivers.

Under California law, individuals can grow a limited amount of marijuana for personal and medicinal purposes. Amid conflicting county, state, and federal laws regarding marijuana growth (federal law prohibits it), growing operations have mushroomed in Northern California, and become big business.

Greacen told the newspaper that Northern California officials had been successfully regulating growing operations. But when the federal government started cracking down on marijuana dispensaries, growers slipped into the shadows.

Consequently, growing practices aren't eco- or fish-friendly and subject coho salmon that spawn and live in the river to pollution. Greacen told the newspaper that he hopes California legislators will understand the need for cooperation, transparency and regulation that can make marijuana grows more salmon and river friendly.

Inside the Industry

NMFS recently released a draft action plan for fish discard and release mortality science, creating a list of actions that they hope can better inform fisheries.

We know that fishermen have to deal with bycatch by discarding or releasing unwanted catch overboard, but there is a data gap regarding how those fish survive.


A new study has identified a set of features common to all ocean ecosystems that provide a visual diagnosis of the health of the underwater environment coastal communities rely on.

Together, the features detail cumulative effects of threats -- such as overfishing, pollution, and invasive species,  allowing responders to act faster to increase ocean resiliency and sustainability.

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