Urban Fishing and Fish-Stocking Programs Survive Series of Lawsuits

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Mike Taugher, (916) 591-0140

A Sacramento judge last week ruled in favor of the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), resolving a series of lawsuits brought by both industry and environmental groups attacking the state’s hatchery and fish stocking programs.

Taken together, the rulings mean that the DFG can continue its Fishing in the City program, its Classroom Aquarium Education Program, its own anadromous and trout stocking and the issuance of private fish-stocking permits.

“This decision reinforces what we have known here at Fish and Game for some time: that our fish-stocking program adopted in 2010 strikes the right balance by affording public fishing opportunities while maintaining our stewardship of California’s rivers and streams,” said DFG Director Charlton H. Bonham.

“I am particularly gratified that we were able to protect our Fishing in the City program which benefits thousands of urban anglers each year,” Bonham added.

In 2010, DFG certified its Hatchery and Stocking Program Environmental Impact Report, which described how DFG would operate its trout, salmon and steelhead hatcheries, its stocking programs, including stocking for Fishing in the City, and other program elements.

In August, DFG won lawsuits brought by two environmental groups alleging that DFG’s program violated the California Environmental Quality Act. Those lawsuits were brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, Californians for Alternatives to Toxics. DFG had earlier settled a similar lawsuit brought by the Owens Valley Committee.

Last week, DFG won the final challenge to its fish stocking program. That lawsuit, brought by the California Association for Recreational Fishing and joined by the Council for Endangered Species Act Reliability, challenged DFG’s ability to have certain restrictions in the contracts DFG enters into for its Fishing in the City Program.

The lawsuit could have shut down the Fishing in the City Program and possibly crippled DFG’s ability to issue private stocking permits.  

DFG’s Fishing in the City program started in 1993 to allow fishing opportunities for residents of Los Angeles, OrangeCounty, San Francisco and Sacramento.