According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the SF Bay herring run “is the last urban fishery in the United States in which people can actually sit on shore and watch commercial boats haul in the squiggling fish” (http://tinyurl.com/ltqpfg8). I was very lucky to film the fishermen close-up from only a few feet away along the SF Bay trail in Richmond, Ca. This video documents the commercial herring fishermen during the 2013 fishing season. It records how the nets are set; how predators compete for the fish, and what happens on the boats during a successful harvest.
An earlier video I made, “Gulls Gone Wild” http://youtu.be/coAf-jlAf_4 documents the wild and crazy behavior of hungry birds that accompanies the huge annual feast of caviar. This latest video focuses on the commercial fisherman hauling in tons of herring.
Each winter, the herring come to mate and scatter there eggs which stick to seaweeds, rocks, and other surfaces. The herring are closely followed by hungry birds, sea lions and fisherman. The area in this film was so rich with spawning fish that the fishermen strung 5 sets of gill nets very close to each other. All the nets had abundant catches!
As the fish got caught in the nets, the seagulls, pelicans, and sea lions would steal the fish from the nets. This doesn’t seem to bother the fisherman, however, perhaps because the harvest was so plentiful!
Seagulls are very buoyant and can’t dive very well like ducks. They only have access to the fish caught at the very top of the Nets. They put on quite a show trying to dive down into the water trying to remove the trapped fish. The pelicans are better equipped. Their long beaks provide much better access to the fish. The sea lions and seals have the best advantage of all. They can dive as deep as they need to for access to this rich source of food.
This 2013 fishing season in the San Francisco Bay was a very good one. Many fishermen caught their limits early and left the area for other fishing grounds. With the fisherman gone, the birds continue to feed on the herring eggs that cover the rocks, sea weed, and piers. For more information about the SF Bay herring fishery check out http://tinyurl.com/knfc7o7.