SYRCL hails Yuba fish regulations |

SYRCL hails Yuba fish regulations

The Yuba River’s salmon and steelhead trout have been listed as “threatened” on the federal endangered species list since 1999.

But now there’s some teeth to it – or a potential big headache, depending on your perspective – because a federal agency just came up with something called a 4(d) rule, which prohibits killing the fish.

Also, fishing regulations have changed on the Yuba. Effective in March, anglers can no longer catch, keep, and eat salmon; it’s catch-and-release only.

South Yuba River Citizens League issued a press release Monday hailing the 4(d) rule issued Jan. 9 by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

SYRCL was one of several environmental groups which filed suit against the federal agency in June 2000, urging it to hurry the regulation.

“After waiting more than a year for NMFS to issue 4(d) rules for Yuba River chinook salmon, we had no choice but to sue,” said SYRCL’s Executive Director Janet Cohen in the press release.

Now, SYRCL attorney Larry Sanders said, “If there is a situation where a diverter or someone else is harming the fish, it gives us the ability to go to court.”

Yuba County Water Agency Manager Curt Aikens said, “The agency doesn’t expect any impact on our operations.

“I’d like to say that YCWA has worked to protect salmon and steelhead, and our (Bullards Bar dam) actions have produced a significant benefit to the fishery.”

Cold water released from the deep Bullards Bar reservoir has increased chinook salmon numbers over the years, YCWA officials say.

The new fishing regulations will take effect on the Yuba River below Englebright Dam.

The state is knocking one month off the time anglers are allowed to fish above the Highway 20 bridge.

Previously, catch-and-release fishing with barbless hooks was allowed from Dec. 1 through Sept. 30.

The Fish and Game Commission in December voted to shorten that to Dec. 1 through Aug. 31 to protect spring-run chinook salmon, said Gene Fleming, chief of the Department of Fisheries Program for state Fish and Game.

Also, to prevent the killing of spring-run salmon and simplify regulations, Fish and Game staff recommended that catching salmon no longer be allowed.

The Fish and Game Commission adopted that provision and eliminated the use of bait, such as salmon eggs, in favor of artificial lures. Catch-and-release bait fishing can kill fish because they tend to swallow the bait.

The change wasn’t related to the Endangered Species Act, Fleming said. It was enacted after anglers complained to Fish and Game after seeing dead steelhead on the river bank.

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