New Protections Provided for Clear Lake Hitch

Contacts: 
Kevin Thomas, CDFW North Central Region, (916) 358-2845
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

The Clear Lake hitch (Lavinia exilicauda chi), which is endemic to Clear Lake in Lake County, is now a candidate species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA).

The California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) received a petition to list Clear Lake hitch as a threatened species under CESA in September 2012 (Cal. Reg. Notice Register 2012, No. 41-Z, p. 1502.). On March 6, 2013, the Commission considered the petition, the petition evaluation report, a recommendation prepared by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and comments received at a publicly noticed meeting. The Commission concluded that the petition included sufficient scientific information to indicate that listing the species as threatened or endangered under CESA may be warranted and designated Clear Lake hitch as a candidate species pursuant to Fish and Game Code (FGC) § 2074.2. The Commission published notice of its action on March 22, 2013 (Cal. Reg. Notice Register 2013, No 12-Z, p. 488).

CESA prohibits the take of listed or candidate species, even if that take is incidental to otherwise lawful activity, unless authorized by permit. As defined in state law, take means “hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill or attempt to hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill” (FGC § 86). Anyone who takes Clear Lake hitch without a permit may be cited for violations of CESA and may be subject to criminal prosecution.

With the Commission’s decision to proceed with candidacy for Clear Lake hitch, section 2.11 of the 2013-2014 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations is no longer valid. That regulation previously allowed take of hitch from Clear Lake and its tributaries by hand or hand-held dip net. Recreational angling for other species on Clear Lake is still allowed as are fishing contests. Anglers must avoid Clear Lake hitch while fishing.

While targeted sport fishing or take of Clear Lake hitch is prohibited, the Fish and Game Code provides CDFW the authority to permit incidental take and take associated with research activities. The department will consider exceptions on a case-by-case basis, and will only authorize take under permits issued pursuant to CESA (FGC § 2080 et seq.).

Under CESA, permits may be issued relating to Clear Lake Hitch for scientific research, education or management purposes. An incidental take permit may also be obtained for projects whose non-research activities may result in take. Information regarding CESA permitting is available on the CDFW website at (www.dfg.ca.gov/habcon/cesa/).

CDFW will conduct an in-depth status review to provide the Commission with information to aid in their decision on the species listing status. The status review is scheduled to be completed by March 2014.

CDFW’s petition evaluation report for the Clear Lake Hitch can be found at: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=59298.