Environment

Backers drop plan to allow Delta anglers to keep more striped bass

Large mouth and striped bass, which were collected using an "electrofishing" technique, are transferred to a holding tank in Clifton Court Forebay in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 in Contra Costa County, Calif. The state was zapping the predator fish to take them out of the forebay out of concerns they are eating Delta smelt and other threatened fish at the intake to the State Water Project's Delta pumping station near Tracy.
Large mouth and striped bass, which were collected using an "electrofishing" technique, are transferred to a holding tank in Clifton Court Forebay in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 in Contra Costa County, Calif. The state was zapping the predator fish to take them out of the forebay out of concerns they are eating Delta smelt and other threatened fish at the intake to the State Water Project's Delta pumping station near Tracy. rpench@sacbee.com

The state Fish and Game Commission on Thursday will no longer consider a controversial proposal to allow anglers to catch and keep more nonnative Delta bass.

On Tuesday, backers pulled a petition that sought to increase the size and daily bag limits for nonnative striped and black bass in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Michael Boccadoro, a spokesman for the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta, said supporters were frustrated that they would only be allowed 10 minutes at Thursday’s meeting to make their case to the commissioners.

Boccadoro’s group represents Kern County farming interests who for years have blamed the nonnative bass for eating endangered Delta smelt and Chinook salmon.

As the populations of native fish have declined, regulators have placed restrictions on Delta water being pumped to farmers’ crops.

In 2008, Boccadoro’s organization sued California fisheries officials to pressure them to remove striped bass from sport-fishing protections.

As part of a settlement, state wildlife officials asked the commission, which sets sport-fishing regulations, to let anglers catch and keep more striped bass.

In 2012, the commission rejected the proposal on a 4-0 vote, after hearing opposition from sport-fishing groups and fisheries officials. They argued that degraded habitat, not well-established predators, is the root problem for the declines in native fish. Nonnative bass were first introduced to California in the late 1800s. They are now a popular sport fish.

Supporters of the most recent petition included several south-of-Delta water agencies, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the California Farm Bureau Federation and the California Chamber of Commerce.

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