Anticipating the effects of future climates and river flow regimes on Pacific Herring recruitment in the San Francisco Bay

Project Number
R/SFA-06
Project Date Range
-
Focus Area(s)
Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

San Francisco Bay’s once-thriving herring fishery has recently seen declines and increased variability, which has even led to closures.  Forage fishes like herring, anchovy, and shad are not only important commercial fisheries—they are also crucial components of the food web, supporting many larger species. Researchers suspect that the recent variability in the herring population is related to emerging effects of climate change, including recent droughts. 

This project aims to advance our understanding of how climate change will affect the San Francisco Bay Pacific herring fishery. In particular, the researchers plan to disentangle the relative importance of three factors that may affect Pacific herring recruitment: the direct effects of altered water flows, temperature, and salinity; changes in eelgrass distribution (a critical spawning habitat); and food-web level effects—fluctuations in zooplankton productivity and in the predation pressure that other fish exert on herring eggs and larvae.

The question for managers is how climate-change related environmental change will impact the San Francisco Bay herring fishery, and what can be done to preserve this important fish. As a collaboration between UC Berkeley and partners at California Department of Fish and Wildlife, this project will directly disseminate monitoring data, modeling tools, and research outcomes to directly inform future management actions.