Evaluating the Role of Boat Electrofishing in Fish Monitoring of the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.15447/sfews.2021v19iss1art4
The San Francisco Estuary is an incredibly diverse ecosystem with a mosaic of aquatic habitats inhabited by a number of economically, culturally, and ecologically important fish species. To monitor the temporal and spatial trends of this rich fish community, long-term fish monitoring programs within the estuary use a variety of gear types to capture fish species across life stages and habitats. However, concerns have been raised that current sampling gears may fail to detect certain species—or life stages—that inhabit areas that are not accessible by current gear types (e.g., riprap banks, shallow vegetated areas). Boat electrofishing is one sampling method that has been proposed to supplement current long-term fish monitoring in the upper estuary. In this study, we used fish catch data from past boat electrofishing studies, a long-term beach seine survey, and a couple of long-running trawl surveys to compare the relative probability of detecting various fishes across these sampling gears. Overall, we found that boat electrofishing led to notable improvements in the detection rates for many native and non-native fishes we examined. Boat electrofishing gear was better at detecting the majority of species in the spring (20 out of 38 species, 53%) and fall-winter (24 out of 34 species, 70%) sampling periods. Based on these findings, we recommend that resource managers consider the implementation of a long-term boat electrofishing survey to help them in their long-term conservation planning for fishes within the upper estuary.