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News

The latest goings-on at the MidCoast Watersheds Council

Monthly Meeting, May 2018

MidCoast Watersheds Council

The Eulachon Story


Thursday May 3rd, 2018 6:30 PM 

Newport Visual Arts Center

777 NW Beach Dr. Newport, OR 97365

 Mac Barr, ODFW, will present current work studying Eulachon populations on the Oregon Coast and beyond. (Photo credit: Mac Barr)

Mac Barr, ODFW, will present current work studying Eulachon populations on the Oregon Coast and beyond. (Photo credit: Mac Barr)

 

Eulachon, commonly called smelt or candlefish are a small, anadromous fish, that like salmon spend 3 to 5 years in saltwater before returning to freshwater to spawn. The name candlefish reflects the fact that they are so fat rich during spawning they could be caught, dried and strung on a wick and burned like a candle.  That also makes them excellent prey for humpbacks, seals, and sea lions and their eggs and larvae important food for salmon and sturgeon. 

Once widespread in coastal streams and nearshore waters, including in places like Yachat’s Smelts Sands Beach, their populations have dwindled in the last few decades.  This decline is of great concern due to their important ecosystem role.   Some wonder if this species be locally extinct in some of our coast streams.

Come learn about what we know about eulachon and the efforts to study and recover their populations when the MidCoast Watersheds Council hosts a presentation by Mac Barr, on May 3rd, 2018 at 6:30 PM in Newport.  The talk will be held in room 205 at the Newport Visual Arts Center at Nye Beach.  Refreshments will be served.

Mac’s presentation will explore the life history as well as the ecological and cultural value of the anadromous forage fish, Eulachon – Thaleichthys pacificus.  He will discuss indications of declining abundance, its listing under the Endangered Species Act and the recently released Conservation and Recovery Plan.  Work that was piloted locally to add LED lights to shrimp trawls to successfully avoid eulachon bycatch will also be mentioned.  Mac will also discuss the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s current three-year study attempting to calculate spawning stock biomass in three coastal streams – Cummings, Ten Mile, and Big Creeks.  Unfortunately, to date, the agency has not recovered eggs or larvae in these streams, leading them to believe the local populations may be in trouble.

Following work as a marine educator with the Peace Corps in Samoa, Mac received a Master’s in Marine Resource Management from Oregon State University in 2009.  He then worked as a contract research scientist at the Alaskan Fisheries Science Center with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle where he participated in diet analyses and ground fish surveys of the Bering Sea.  In the fall of 2010, Mac began his career with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife conducting spawning ground surveys for Chinook and Coho salmon.  Eventually, he transitioned to work with the Columbia River Investigation group and participated in stock assessments of White Sturgeon and tagging activities for the Northern Pikeminnow Management Program.  Currently, Mac is the project leader and manager for ODFW’s components of the Northern Pikeminnow Management Program and the project leader for a NOAA Section 6 grant: Studies of Eulachon in Oregon and Washington. 

Come learn more about the history and future of eulachon on the Oregon Coast on May 3rd.

 Pink shrimp bycatch reduction using LED lights: The hopper on the right (No LED’s) shows high bycatch of Eulachon smelt, the hopper on the right (using LED’s) shows much less bycatch.  The use of LED's results in sharp reduction of fish such as smelt, rockfish and flatfish. Findings showed 90% reduction of Eulachon smelt, 78% reduction of juvenile rockfish, 69% reduction of flatfish while having no significant impact on shrimp catch. (Photo Credit: ODFW-  https://www.dfw.state.or.us/mrp/shellfish/commercial/shrimp/LEDs.asp )

Pink shrimp bycatch reduction using LED lights: The hopper on the right (No LED’s) shows high bycatch of Eulachon smelt, the hopper on the right (using LED’s) shows much less bycatch.  The use of LED's results in sharp reduction of fish such as smelt, rockfish and flatfish. Findings showed 90% reduction of Eulachon smelt, 78% reduction of juvenile rockfish, 69% reduction of flatfish while having no significant impact on shrimp catch. (Photo Credit: ODFW- https://www.dfw.state.or.us/mrp/shellfish/commercial/shrimp/LEDs.asp)