A fishery refers to a system that includes a target organism, a community of species on which that organism depends, the habitat in which they reside, and the humans that affect or utilize the resource within the ecosystem.
Related resources for County planning include the following:
Aquatics Quagga Decon Stations WGS84= Quagga mussel decontamination stations.
Download mxd The ESRI mxd file of the services used to create the above map.
The term fisheries generally implies resource use and management actions, such as harvest and/or stocking, to meet specific management objectives for a given waterbody. Except for the Great Salt Lake (a brine shrimp-focused fishery), fisheries in this region of Utah are predominantly managed for sportfish (e.g., trout, bass), and this chapter discusses fisheries in this context. Other important components that affect management and use of fisheries are the presence of exotic and invasive aquatic species as well as diseases that typically exert a negative effect on target organisms. Utah’s fisheries are managed by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) under Title 23, Wildlife Resources Code of Utah. Species of fish designated by state or federal agencies as sensitive or threatened can be discussed in the county’s resource management plan section for Threatened, Endangered, and Sensitive Species; this includes native fish such as Bonneville Cutthroat trout.
The primary concerns regarding fisheries in Utah are:
- Sport Fisheries
- Brine Shrimp
- Aquatic Invasive Species
Issues to consider include stocking a body of water with fish, biological and habitat monitoring, stream rehabilitation and natural reproduction, and game fish spawning operations. Here is an example of a fishery management program for Strawberry Reservoir.
The UDWR is responsible for managing fisheries in Utah with a primary resource goal of providing quality recreational fishing opportunities. Assisting the UDWR in decision making and establishing management priorities are five Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) who provide local input on fishing related issues. Each RAC consists of a diverse group of interest group representatives, including agriculture, sportsmen, federal land agencies, general public, and elected officials. Meeting schedules and agendas can be found on the RAC website.
A fisheries related topic of special interest to communities of the Wasatch Front Region are Blue Ribbon Fisheries (BRF). BRF status is awarded to rivers and lakes or reservoirs that provide exceptional angling experiences, most of which tend to be cold-water, trout fisheries. Criteria for BRF include waterbodies capacity to support recreational fishing pressure (high fish catch rates, opportunity to catch large fish), sufficient water quality and quantity to support viable fishery, and sufficient/legal angler access. BRF designation is conferred by the State Blue Ribbon Fisheries Advisory Council.
“To identify, enhance, and protect those Utah waters and their watersheds that provide, or have the potential to provide, Blue Ribbon quality public angling experiences for the purpose of preserving and enhancing these economically valuable natural resources.” Mission Statement, Blue Ribbon Fisheries Advisory Council
BRF status is a designation the local communities can work towards by improving accessibility to local waterbodies as well as taking steps to improve habitat for fish. Both of these steps can be accomplished through land use ordinance and by working with state and federal partners to improve habitat and water quality. Locally designated BRF waterbodies within the WFRC include:
- South Fork Ogden River
- Pineview Reservoir
- Weber River (Echo to Wanship)
Brine Shrimp Commercial Fishery
Brine shrimp are a prolific aquatic species that inhabit the hyper-saline waters of the Great Salt Lake. The brine shrimp play an important role in the region’s fisheries for several reasons. First, abundant supplies of brine shrimp and cysts (eggs) support millions of migrating and breeding shorebirds, waterfowl, and other avian species. Second, brine shrimp cysts are harvested by commercial fishermen from more than a dozen local companies (the economic impact of this industry is discusses below). Over 1 million kg of cysts are harvested annually to be used worldwide as food for farmed shrimp, fish, and shellfish in the aquaculture industry. Management of harvest quotas is completed by the UDWR in order to prevent overexploitation.
- Great Salt Lake Lake Resource management Plan (2013)
- Great Salt Lake Brine Shrimp Cooperative
- Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program
Aquatic Invasive Species
Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) or Aquatic Nuisance Species are defined by the UDWR as nonnative species of aquatic plants and animals which cause harm to natural systems and/or human infrastructure. Not all nonnative species are considered AIS, as many nonnative fish species are desirable for sport fishing. These may include nonnative rainbow trout, largemouth bass, and catfish.
The primary AIS threats in Utah are related to Dreissenid spp. mussels, such as quagga mussel, zebra mussel, and dark falsemussel. Invasive mussels in Utah waters have have no natural competitors. Once established the mussels spread quickly, growing on nearly all underwater surfaces. The prolific mussels often clog water and power infrastructure, harm water-based recreational equipment, and outcompete native species for nutrients which can have profound effects on sportfish populations high in the food chain.
Dreissenid spp. have infested several waterbodies of southern Utah and possibly Deer Creek Reservoir in Wasatch County. On January 15, 2016, the UDWR posted notice of the detection of quagga mussel veligers (juvenile mussels) in the reservoir. While not in the WFRC, Deer Creek Reservoir is close enough to WFRC counties to warrant concern about the spread of Dreissenid into local waters.
Other AIS include the New Zealand mudsnail and Eurasian watermilfoil. Several parasites and diseases are also considered invasive due to their effects on local fisheries. Each malady has unique lifecycles which have management implications, including transmission from hatcheries, sportsman, and natural sources. These include whirling disease and Spawning Syndrome which affect trout species found in Utah.
Once established, mussels are currently impossible to remove from contaminated waterbodies and are easily spread to nearby waterbodies via rivers and boaters. Preventing the spread of AIS are the most effective management actions. The DWR has a statewide system of boat cleaning/decontamination stations (see the Quagga Decon Stations data), inspection check-points, and angler education efforts.
AIS Best Management Practices and Planning Resources:
In 2011, fishing Utah’s lakes, streams, and rivers brought in $259 million. This includes the cost of equipment and multipliers like lodging, retail purchases, and dining in restaurants. Fishing relies on good water quality and hydrology.
A 2012 study of outdoor recreation found that $1.2 billion was spent for water related activities including fishing in Utah.
Sport Fishing and Blue Ribbon Fisheries
Fishing and supporting activities has a large positive economic impact on local communities. According to a report by the economic consulting firm Southwick and Associates, anglers spent $489.8 million while fishing in Utah.
Blue Ribbon Fishery designation is important for two reasons. First the designation is a prime attraction for anglers, both local and out-of-state tourists. Second, BRF designation opens up a waterbody to substantial grant opportunities from the Council, which allocates about $450,000 towards restoration, access, acquisition and other fisheries related needs. This fund is created from a $1 fee added to every fishing license sold in the state.
The brine shrimp industry produces $30–35 million annually and supports more than a dozen companies. In 2010 Utah Department of Workforce Services reported 60–118 full-time employees and almost 300 during harvest season.
The Utah Brine Shrimp Royalty Act requires harvesters pay a tax for brine shrimp eggs collected from the Great Salt Lake. Monies generated in this way are added to a special state fund (Species Protection Account) used for conservation projects which help plants and animals from being added to the Endangered Species Act.
Aquatic Invasive Species
As previously stated, invasive mussels have the potential to clog water and power infrastructure and harm water-based recreational equipment. Statewide management for AIS is already nearly $1.4 million. Future spread of the mussels throughout Utah could be very expensive, UDWR estimates statewide costs could exceed $15 million per year.
In addition to direct economic costs, the presence of mussels in local waters may direct recreational angles to other destinations outside the region. This will affect communities and business that depend on recreational fishing to support their economies.
Finally, AIS can cause significant harm to native fisheries through degradation of habitat and competition for resources. Especially at risk are currently imperiled species that could face additional threats from AIS resulting in future listing as Endangered Species.
|Data Name||Data Explanation||Publication Date||Spatial Accuracy||Contact|
|Blue Ribbon Fisheries||Use to locate some of the best fishing fisheries in Utah.||Unknown||Unknown||Utah Division of Wildlife Resources|
|Fish Stocking Report||Stocking list by waterbody, species and county||Updated Monthly||Tabular Data||Utah Division of Wildlife Resources|
|Fishing Report||Fishing spots across Utah||Unknown||Unknown||Utah Division of Wildlife Resources|
- Sass, G. G., and M. S. Allen. 2014. Foundations of Fisheries Science. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland.
- Utah Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife Resources. 2015. “Goals and Objectives”. Accessed: 2/4/16
- Title 23 – Wildlife Resources Code of Utah, § Chapter 14 – Division of Wildlife Resources and Wildlife Board-Section 2.6.
- Blue Ribbon Fisheries Advisory Council. 2009. Blue Ribbon Fisheries Advisory Council Handbook.
- Conover, M.R., and J.N. Caudell. 2009. Energy budgets for eared grebes on the Great Salt Lake and implications for harvest of brine shrimp. Journal of Wildlife Management 73(7):1134–1139.
- Utah Department of Natural Resources, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Utah Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force. 2009. Utah Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan, Publication No. 08-34.
- Kim, M. and P.M. Jakus. 2013. The Economic Contribution and Benefits of Utah’s Blue Ribbon Fisheries. Utah State University, Center for Society, Economy, and the Environment Research Report #4, Feb. 27
- Southwick Associates. 2013. The Economic Contributions of Outdoor Recreation: Technical Report on Methods and Findings.
- Southwick Associates. 2011. Economics of Fishing In Utah.
- KSL.com. January, 12 2015. A look at the competitive brine shrimp industry of Great Salt Lake. Accessed February 5, 2016
- Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands. 2013. Final Great Salt Lake Comprehensive Management Plan and Record of Decision. Utah Department of Natural Resources, March.
- Utah Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife Resources. 2016. Invasive Mussels, Just How Serious in This Problem? Accessed: 1/29/16.