California Fish and Game Commission Meets in Santa Monica

At its April 2019 meeting in Santa Monica, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from the meeting.

The Commission assigned commissioners to committees. President Eric Sklar and Commissioner Russell Burns and were assigned to the Wildlife Resources Committee. Newly appointed Commissioner Samantha Murray and Commissioner Peter Silva were assigned to the Marine Resources Committee. Commission Vice President Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Silva were assigned to the Tribal Committee.

The Commission voted 4-1 to draft a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service opposing the proposal to delist gray wolves from the federal endangered species list. Hostler-Carmesin opposed.

The Commission adopted waterfowl hunting regulations for 2019-20, including extending the duck season closure date to January 31 and reducing the daily bag limit for pintail from two to one. It also received the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) 90-day evaluation report on a petition to list four species of bumble bee as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). CDFW plans to present its petition evaluation report at the Commission’s June meeting in Redding to inform the Commission’s decision about whether listing may be warranted. If, in June, the Commission decides listing is warranted, CDFW will begin a year-long status review.

The Commission heard from CDFW that projections for Chinook salmon fisheries are looking better than last year. In May, the Commission will consider increasing bag and possession limits on the Klamath and Trinity rivers to a three fish bag limit with no more than two adults and nine fish possession limit with no more than six adults. On the American, Feather and Sacramento rivers in the Sacramento River Basin, the Commission is considering a two bag, four possession limit. Last year, due to lower salmon returns, anglers in the Sacramento River Basin were only allowed one bag limit with two in possession. Also in May, the Commission will consider extending fishing in the Feather River an additional two weeks, closing on October 31, and opening 10 additional miles of the Mokelumne River to fishing. The May 16 Commission meeting is via teleconference.

The Commission voted unanimously to open a short-term fishery on spring Chinook Salmon on the Klamath and Trinity rivers. Spring Chinook Salmon became a candidate for listing under CESA at the Commission’s February meeting, when emergency regulations were adopted that closed salmon fishing on the Klamath and Trinity rivers until August 15. Since February, CDFW held several meetings with the public, fishing interests, affected counties and CESA petitioners to evaluate whether a fishery could happen that would protect the salmon, allow fishing, and provide some economic relief to citizens and counties in the affected area. The Commission voted to reopen fishing on July 1 in both the lower Klamath and upper Trinity rivers with a one fish bag limit and two fish possession limit.

Commissioners received an update from CDFW staff on whale and sea turtle protections in the commercial Dungeness crab fishery, and referred discussion of the recreational fishery to the Commission’s Marine Resources Committee. Marine related items also included an update on CDFW’s transition to electronic commercial fisheries landing receipts (“E-Tix”), an update on the recreational ocean salmon and Pacific halibut seasons, and the publication of the Marine Region Year in Review.

All commissioners were present. This was Murray’s first meeting.

The full Commission agenda, supporting information and a schedule of upcoming meetings are available at www.fgc.ca.gov. An archived video will also be available in coming days.

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The California Fish and Game Commission was the first wildlife conservation agency in the United States, predating even the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries. There is often confusion about the distinction between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Commission. In the most basic terms, CDFW implements and enforces the regulations set by the Commission, as well as provides biological data and expertise to inform the Commission’s decision-making process.