Striped bass “are not the problem” in the Delta, writes California native fish expert Peter Moyle and other experts with the U.C. Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.
South-of-Delta water users have long said that it makes no sense for the state to maintain fishing limits on stripers, because the fish are not native to the Delta and chomp down on fish that are native, which in turn crimps water exports.
But the solution may not be as simple as lifting those limits and allowing fishermen to wipe out stripers. Such an action might have “unintended consequences,” Moyle says.
For example, while stripers eat native fish they also eat other fish that eat native fish. Like the Mississippi silverside, which Moyle says preys on Delta smelt eggs and larvae.
No more stripers means more Mississippi silverside, which might actually be bad for Delta smelt, he writes.
He also affirms what striped bass defenders have been saying for a long time: That the species has coexisted with native fish species for well over a century, and both were once far more abundant, suggesting other factors are at play here in their decline.