Yolo County Jury Convicts Sturgeon Poachers

A Yolo County jury convicted a repeat sturgeon poacher and his accomplice of multiple felonies and poaching charges stemming from a 2010 poaching investigation. They were convicted June 19, with sentencing scheduled for Aug. 1.

In Feb. 2010, Nikolay Krasnodemskiy, 41, of North Highlands, and his partner Petr Dyachishin, 54, of Citrus Heights, were observed catching and retaining oversized sturgeon and processing their eggs into caviar. An extensive investigation conducted by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers from the Delta Bay Enhanced Enforcement Project and the Special Operations Unit proved the two were selling the sturgeon and their eggs on the black market for personal profit. Sale of sturgeon, their parts, or any fish caught with a recreational fishing license is illegal.

Krasnodemskiy and Dyachishin were each convicted of two felonies related to conspiracy, in addition to multiple counts of commercial sales of sturgeon, possession of oversized sturgeon, failure to tag sturgeon and possession of sturgeon over the annual limit.

California’s sturgeon population is on the edge of sustaining a recreational fishery. As a result, sturgeon anglers must adhere to strict size, limit and tagging requirements to help wildlife officers distinguish between honest anglers and poachers, and to help CDFW biologists maintain adequate scientific data on the fishery and protect the larger breeding adults.

“Taking these poachers out of business will help ensure a healthy sturgeon population into the future,” said CDFW Captain David Bess, who participated in the investigation.

Nikolay Krasnodemskiy was the subject of multiple sturgeon poaching investigations including Operation Delta Beluga II in 2005, which culminated in a conviction and revocation of his fishing license. Soon after his fishing license was reinstated in 2009, he became the subject of another sturgeon poaching investigation. By Feb. 2010, wildlife officers had observed him continue his sturgeon poaching activities, including commercial sales.

Wildlife officers will seek a permanent revocation of Krasnodemskiy’s fishing license and forfeiture of all fishing gear seized during the investigation.

CDFW appreciates legitimate sturgeon anglers for their patience with sturgeon tagging and recordkeeping requirements, which were integral to making the case as well as the long-term management of the sturgeon fishery. CDFW also thanks the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office for their dedication and successful prosecution of the case.

Media Contact:
Lt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095

Two Santa Barbara County Men Arrested for Felony Fish Theft

Two commercial fishermen were arrested by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers early Sunday morning in Santa Barbara Harbor on felony charges of conspiracy and grand theft.

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John Wilson, 53, of Santa Ynez and Kai Griffin, 23, of Buellton, both licensed commercial fishermen, are being charged with stealing live rock crabs from fellow commercial fishermen and stealing from commercial fish markets at the commercial dock in Santa Barbara Harbor. Wildlife officers allege that the pair then sold the crabs, along with several other illegally landed species, at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market.

“Thanks to some good tips from the fishing community and good, solid police work, we were able to catch the suspects and stop these illegal sales,” said CDFW Lt. Wes Boyle

Wardens had received reports from commercial fishermen and two Santa Barbara fish markets regarding stolen rock crabs and other assorted species. The thefts were said to be occurring in the early morning hours. During the two-month-long investigation, the subjects were observed stealing live rock crabs from receivers in Santa Barbara Harbor and then selling them at the Farmer’s Market. The investigation also showed that the subjects were selling sea urchins, Kellet’s whelks (out of season), live rock crabs and clawed rock crabs that were illegally landed.

The suspects were booked into Santa Barbara County Jail, and charges will be filed with the county District Attorney.

Media Contacts:     
Capt. Mike Stefanak, CDFW Law Enforcement, (805) 746-7590
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

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Southern California Man Charged in Commercial Fishing Violations

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) law enforcement officials filed dozens of misdemeanor charges in October against a Southern California man, accusing him of violating a series of commercial fishing regulations.

Adam Crawford James, 32, of Winnetka is accused of multiple violations of the Fish and Game Code, including commercial take of lobster without a permit, commercial take of sea urchin without a permit, illegal take of nearshore fish without a permit, failure to complete and submit records of fish taken under a commercial license, the illegal take of several varieties of fish during the closed commercial season and several other serious charges.

During their investigation CDFW wildlife officers received information from the CalTIP hotline that James was attempting to sell commercially caught fish to restaurants without a Receiver’s License. In California, commercial fishermen are permitted to sell their catch directly to restaurants, provided they have a Receiver’s License and complete required documentation of the marine life that is taken.  This management tool helps to protect the resource, and ensure sustainable fisheries for years to come.

The investigation revealed that James appeared to be in violation of far more, when evidence of fishing during closed seasons, and taking species that required special permits began to surface.

“Most commercial fishermen are ethical and diligently follow the laws and regulations,” said CDFW Assistant Chief Dan Sforza. “Thanks to the information received from the CalTIP hotline and good, solid police work we were able to file charges.”

The charges were filed with the Santa Monica City Attorney’s office in Oct.

If convicted of these violations in court James could face jail time, fines, loss of his commercial fishing license, community service and other penalties. No court dates have been set.

CalTIP (Californians Turn In Poachers and Polluters) is a confidential secret witness program that encourages the public to provide Fish and Wildlife with factual information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters.

CalTIP was introduced in California in 1981 in order to give Californians an opportunity to help protect the state’s fish and wildlife resources. The toll free telephone number, (888) 334-2258 operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You do not have to give your name.

Media Contact:
Capt. Rebecca Hartman, CDFW Law Enforcement, (310) 678-4864
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

CDFW Officers Catch Poachers at Riverside County Lake

Wildlife officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently cited four fishing poachers for illegally catching more than 200 fish in a private community lake in Riverside County.

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CDFW officers received an anonymous tip that four men were using gill nets to take fish from a remote area of Canyon Lake. Gill and throw nets are illegal to possess within 100 yards of any inland body of water in the state.

The wardens contacted the fishermen as they were leaving the water with the nets and seized one gill net, one throw net and 238 fish, including 29 carp, 126 sunfish and 83 bass, of which 74 were undersized.

“Anglers often complain about the low number of fish in area lakes and illegal activities like this are often a leading culprit,” said Warden Dustin Holyoak. “If it had not been for the actions of a citizen, this activity could have gone on indefinitely until the population of fish in that area was depleted.”

The four men were cited and released on June 23. Charges of fishing without a license, possession of illegal fishing gear, over limit of sunfish, over limit of bass and possession of short fish are pending with the Riverside County District Attorney.

All the seized fish were dead and could not be returned to the water.

Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

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Lakes and Streams Looking Good for Eastern Sierra Trout Season Opener

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) anticipates good fishing for the eastern Sierra trout opener due to early spring conditions and rising temperatures.

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Warm weather has been melting snow and ice on lakes that often are still frozen in late spring, giving anglers more access to lakes, streams and waterways for the Saturday, April 27 season opener. Lakes below 8,000 feet have already thawed and higher lakes could thaw considerably more prior to opening day.

Warmer water often means the fish have had more time to forage and add some weight after the winter. Hatcheries have begun to stock the open waters.

CDFW biologists have been surveying the waters and have made the following observations:

  • Crowley Lake is ice-free and has been open for two months.
  • Bridgeport Reservoir, Convict Lake, Crowley Lake, Lundy Lake and the Twin Lakes in Bridgeport are all open and ice-free.
  • The entire June Lake Loop, including June Lake, Gull Lake, Silver Lake and Grant Reservoir are all ice-free. Water level at Grant Reservoir is very low.
  • East Walker River is at very low flow but fishing is good with no ice or muddy areas. East Walker River is open to catch-and-release fishing all winter.
  • Monitor Pass is open.
  • The Bishop Creek drainage roads are open and the roads are snow-free, the creek, south and middle forks will be fishable. North Lake and Weir Pond are ice-free and open.
  • In the Mammoth Lakes Basin, Twin Lakes are open, no update on Mamie, Mary or George Lakes.
  • Rock Creek Lake is 50 percent open and melting. The road is open and all shoreline is accessible.
  • In Virginia Lakes, road is still closed due to highway work.

Anglers are reminded that anyone over 16 must have a valid California fishing license in their possession while fishing and that the limit for trout is five fish per day and 10 in possession.

CDFW wildlife officers will be in the area for the opener and enforcing the laws and regulations. On opening weekend last year wardens contacted 3,355 anglers, gave 73 warnings and wrote 91 citations for fishing without a license, catching more than the limit and other Fish and Game Code Violations.

The eastern Sierra trout season officially open at one hour before sunrise on Saturday, April 27. Check the CDFW freshwater fishing regulations for specifics on individual lakes at http://dfg.ca.gov/regulations/FreshFish-Mar2013/

Media Contacts:         
James Erdman, CDFW Environmental Scientist, (760) 873-6071
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Eastern Sierra Lakes

Abalone Poachers Sentenced to Probation, Community Service, Fined and Lose Gear

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has noted an apparent increase in abalone poaching in Southern California waters. Potential abalone poachers and the general public should be aware wardens are on the lookout and penalties for illegally taking abalone can be stiff.

Two Southern California men recently pleaded no contest to misdemeanor Fish and Game Code violations in Los Angeles Superior Court. They were each ordered to:

  • Serve three years’ probation;
  • Pay a $2,405 fine;
  • Pay an additional $1,000 fine to the Department of Fish and Wildlife to be used to implement wildlife preservation policies;
  • Successfully complete a 3- to 5-unit marine biology course at a local college;
  • Serve 40 hours of community service, and
  • Forfeit diving and fishing gear.

Curatola abalone-knife

Wade Anthony Curtatola of Rancho Cucamonga was diving off Catalina Island on Sept. 29, 2012, the opening day of lobster season. With no other boats in the area a warden went into the water near where Curtatola surfaced behind a boat and found a spear gun and game bag filled with a horn shark, four abalone and 13 lobster tails in 30 feet of water. Samples of genetic materials taken from Curtatola’s equipment matched the species found in the dive bag. Curtatola pleaded to misdemeanor counts of taking abalone in a closed area, over-limit of lobster and possession of tailed lobster.

“All it takes is one drop of blood, or a few cells from an animal to make positive identifications of illegally taken species,” said Lt. Eric Kord, CDFW Law Enforcement. “CDFW and our partners are using the latest tools and technology to help protect California’s resources.”

Bruce Allen Boyd of Oceanside was fishing off Catalina Island the same day, Sept. 29, when wildlife officers boarded his boat for an inspection. Wildlife officers found a dive bag with a large abalone concealed in a trash can. The abalone was photographed and returned to the ocean. Boyd was charged with one violation and pleaded to a misdemeanor count of taking abalone in a closed area.

It has been illegal to take abalone since 1997 in the southern half of the state (San Francisco Bay south to Mexican border) due to over fishing, disease and sea otter predation.

“We have seen a pretty sharp rise in abalone poaching here in Southern California over the last 18 months or so,” said Kord. “Most anglers are responsible fishermen and know the laws; the enforcement is to protect resources from the rest.”

Illegally taking abalone has some of the highest penalties in the Fish and Game Code, and can include of up to a year in jail, fines in the thousands of dollars, permanent loss of fishing licenses and confiscation of fishing and diving gear.

 

Media Contacts:
Lt. Eric Kord, CDFW Law Enforcement, (858) 538-6017
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

CDFW Wildlife Officers Stop and Cite Channel Islands Fishermen

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) marine officers cited several boats for fishing in the Marine Protected Areas and other resource violations near the Channel Islands on Sunday.

Wildlife Officers from the CDFW patrol boat Swordfish, based in Ventura Harbor, contacted three private boats and one commercial passenger fishing vessel (CPFV) and found violations onboard all four boats.

Anglers on the private boats were cited for fishing inside a Marine Protected Area, fishing without a license, taking a rockfish in a closed area and two citations for taking rockfish in water deeper than 120 feet.

The fourth boat, Ranger 85, an 85-foot long CPFV was stopped and inspected at the Osborne Bank, 5 miles south of Santa Barbara Island, inside the Cowcod Conservation Area (CCA). Fishing in the CCA is restricted to depth of 120 feet or less. The boat was fishing at a depth of at least 170 feet. The captain and five crew members were cited for multiple Fish and Game Code violations, including take of rockfish in closed waters, over limits of ocean whitefish and over limits of general fishing. The limit on ocean whitefish is 10 per day per angler and the boat had 371 ocean whitefish, 195 assorted rockfish, 12 sheephead and 33 boccacio for 30 anglers, and a total of 611 fish, well over the legal limits.

“The Marine Protected Areas were established to help fish species recover and thrive,” said Lt. Wes Boyle, captain of the Swordfish. “Every fisherman and boat captain needs to be 100 percent aware of the MPA areas and boundaries.”

The captain was also cited for a logbook violation.

The Swordfish returned to Ventura Harbor and with the help of several local wildlife officers made arraignments to donate the fish to several local food banks and charities.

In the first three months of this year the Swordfish has issued 39 citations, 33 of those were for fishing in an MPA, as well as five dock and shore citations for possession of undersized lobster, take of garibaldi, and commercial take of undersized sea urchin.

For complete listings of the Marine Protected Areas go to http://dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/ncmpas_list.asp or on a smart phone at http://dfg.ca.gov/m/MPA/

Media Contacts:
Lt. Wes Boyle, CDFW Law Enforcement, (805) 331-7051
Mark Michilizzi, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 996-9003

New Sport Ocean Fishing Regulation Changes for 2013

New 2013-2014 Ocean Sport Fishing Regulation booklets are now available at California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) offices and wherever sport fishing licenses are sold. Anglers and divers need to be aware of a number of new fishing regulations that are in effect this year.

Regulation changes include the following: new size and bag limits for kelp bass, sand bass and spotted bass, and new at-sea fillet size requirements for these basses and ocean whitefish. Changes also include new regulations for groundfish (including rockfish), northern California marine protected areas, and sturgeon. Regulation changes are highlighted throughout the booklet for quick reference.

Effective March 1, 2013, new size, bag, and fillet size limits are in effect for kelp bass, sand bass, and spotted sand bass. Bass must now be at least 14 inches total length or 10 inches alternate length (measured from base of foremost spine of dorsal fin to longest tip of tail), and fillets must be at least 7 ½ inches long and retain a 1 inch square patch of skin when filleted at sea. The new bag limit for these basses is five fish in combination.

New marine protected areas (MPAs) are now in effect in northern California, from the California/Oregon border to Alder Creek, near Point Arena. For more information, visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa, or the MPA mobile website at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/m/MPA, or a northern California CDFW office.

New sturgeon fishing regulations established a new method of measuring sturgeon and a new size limit of 40 to 60 inches fork length (not total length, as before). Barbless hooks are required when fishing for sturgeon and snares are prohibited. Fish longer than 68 inches fork length may not be removed from the water. For more information: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=58288&inline=1

New seasons, bag and size limits, and species allowed for take have been established for groundfish. For more information: http://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/new-recreational-groundfish-regulations-effective-march-1/

Also effective March 1, 2013, fillets from ocean whitefish filleted at sea must now measure at least 6 ½ inches long, and the entire skin must remain intact.

For the complete set of new and updated ocean sport fishing regulations, CDFW recommends picking up a copy of the new 2013-2014 regulations booklet. Booklets are also available online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/sportfishing_regs2013.asp.

Media Contacts:
Mary Patyten, Marine Region, (707) 964-5026
Carrie Wilson, Communications, (831) 649-7191

The 2013-14 Freshwater Sports Fishing Regulation Pamphlet Issued

Media Contacts:
Karen Mitchell, Fisheries Branch, (916) 445-0826
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Changes this year include new regulations on sturgeon, salmon and steelhead retention, new areas where hatchery trout or steelhead may be retained, and a black bass slot limit removal on five waters. Regulation changes are highlighted in the front of the pamphlet for quick reference.

New sturgeon fishing regulations establish a new method of measuring sturgeon and a new size limit of 40-60 inches. Barbless hooks are required when fishing for sturgeon and snares are prohibited. Fish longer than 68 inches fork length may not be removed from the water. For more information: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=58288&inline=1

Salmon and steelhead anglers in inland valley waters can not fillet steelhead or salmon until they reach their permanent residence, a commercial preservation facility or the fish is being prepared for immediate consumption. All steelhead and salmon must remain in such a condition that their species and size can be identified.

Anglers will be allowed to harvest hatchery trout and hatchery steelhead in most catch and release areas under new regulations.

There will be no slot limit regulation for black bass in McClure, Millerton, Oroville, Orr and Siskiyou lakes. The statewide standard daily bag limit and 12-inch minimum total length regulations will apply on these waters.
Other changes include:
• Yellow Perch have been removed from the sunfish bag limit. Yellow perch have a year-round season with no bag limit.
• Spearfishermen will be allowed to harvest striped bass by spearfishing in the Valley District and all of Black Butte Lake will be open to spearfishing.
• Eulachon may not be taken or possessed.
• Wolf Creek (Mono Co.), Chowchilla River, and Eastman Lake will be open to fishing.
• The Sisquoc River will be closed to all fishing all year to protect listed steelhead.
• Silver King Creek tributaries (Alpine Co.) below Tamarack Lake Creek will be closed to all fishing all year to protect threatened Paiute cutthroat trout.
• Davis and Pine creeks in Modoc County will be closed to the harvest of trout. Catch and release fishing is allowed.
• Smith River Low Flow Regulations – The minimum flow trigger on the Smith River has been increased from 400 cubic feet per second to 600 cubic feet per second.
• Eight amphibians and three reptiles have been removed from the list of species authorized for take with a sport fishing license.

There are other changes to the freshwater sport fishing regulations, so please review all of the 2013-2014 regulations pertaining to the species you intend to pursue.

Bay Area Lakes to Receive Trout This Month

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is planting more than 30,000 pounds of rainbow trout – some as large as one pound each – in Bay Area lakes during the month of December.

“We want to create opportunities for families to spend quality time together through the time-honored tradition of fishing,” said DFG acting Regional Manager Scott Wilson. “Fishing, like many other outdoor pursuits, helps keep people connected to their natural environment.”

Anglers are encouraged to submit photos of their catch to the DFG Facebook page with the name, age and location of the catch.

A fishing license is required of all anglers age 16 or older and all fishing regulations apply. Some lakes may require a daily fishing permit.

The enhanced stocking is coordinated through DFG’s Fishing in the City Program. Since 1993, Fishing in the City has enhanced fishing near areas where people live and work. This is accomplished though enhanced stocking, habitat improvement and learn-to-fish clinics. Fishing in the City is funded through the Sportfish Restoration Fund, an excise tax on the sale of fishing tackle and motor boat fuel.

The following lakes will be stocked as a part of this special program. (Listings include county, lake, and number of pounds planted — see Planting Schedule)

Alameda County
Horseshoe Lake (Quarry L.), 1,050 lbs.
Lake Elizabeth 500 lbs.
Lakeshore Park, 800 lbs.

Contra Costa County
Heather Farms Pond, 500 lbs.
Hidden Valley Pond, 800 lbs.
Lafayette Reservoir, 1,750 lbs.
Temescal Lake, 1,300 lbs.

Marin County
Bon Tempe, 4,375 lbs.
Lagunitas, 500 lbs.

San Francisco County
Merced Lake North, 1,750 lbs.

Santa Clara County
Cunningham Lake, 1,050 lbs.
Sandy Wool Reservoir, 1,000 lbs.
Spring Valley Pond, 250 lbs.

Solano County
Lake Chabot, 2,250 lbs.

Sonoma County
Ralphine Lake, 2,750 lbs.

Media Contacts:
Ethan Rotman, Fishing in the City Coordinator, (415) 999-5924
Andrew Hughan, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8944

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