Thousands of youngsters were on hand to celebrate Discover Marina del Rey Day at Burton Chace Park Sunday, October 8th, with several of them taking time to join the Marina del Rey Anglers (MDRA) to celebrate the release of more than 1,000 cultured juvenile white sea bass.
White sea bass had nearly disappeared as a species because of over-fishing.
The graduating juvenile fish left the confines of their grow-out pen to the sounds of the commencement march Pomp and Circumstance as the gates were opened by Marina del Rey Anglers volunteers.
Marina del Rey Anglers has released nearly 90,000 white sea bass as part of the Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program (OREHP), which was created to investigate ways to counteract the depletion of California’s coastal marine fisheries through stock enhancement.
To date, the program has released more than 1.2 million cultured white sea bass.
This program, coupled with the prohibition of drift nets and long lines, has been successful, as white sea bass are staging a strong resurgence, with thousands of fish between 30 and 50 pounds now being caught by recreational anglers and commercial fishermen, according to a program spokesman.
The Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program was the vision of Milton Shedd, one of California’s pioneers in recreational angling and marine conservation, and it began releasing cultured juvenile white sea bass in 1986.
Scientists at the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI) implant each juvenile white sea bass with a coded wire tag that contains the data about the fish’s genealogy, when it was spawned and when and where it was released.
All anglers are asked to turn in the heads of any white sea bass they catch to one of 20 collection centers.
The scientists use the data from the returned heads to help evaluate the efficacy of the program.
The Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute serves as a lead partner in the Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program, which is a partnership between California state resource agencies, public utilities, volunteer fishing and conservation groups and the scientific community.
All the white sea bass are spawned at the Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program’s Leon Raymond Hubbard, Jr. Marine Fish Hatchery in Carlsbad.
When the fish are about three to four inches long, they are shipped to one of 15 grow-out facilities, including the one operated by Marina del Rey Anglers at Burton Chace Park.
The fish spend about six to eight months in grow-out facilities, where they grow to a length of ten to 12 inches.
After white sea bass reach this size range, they are released, to hopefully survive in the ocean and spawn future generations.
Most of the sportfishing landings in Southern California have a white sea bass head collection freezer, as do many local tackle shops.
Anglers fill out an information card, which accompanies each head to the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute facility in San Diego.
All heads turned in qualify for a cash prize determined by lottery and it doesn’t matter if the head contains the tag implanted by Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute.
Marina del Rey Anglers gives away two $500 cash prizes every year to anglers, who are automatically entered into the lottery with every white sea bass head they save.
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