Open Area of Commercial Rock Crab Fishery to be Extended to Salt Point, Sonoma County

Following the recommendation of state health agencies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today that it has extended the area open to commercial rock crab fishing from 38° 34′ N. Lat. (Salt Point, Sonoma County) south to the California/Mexico border.

At the recommendation of the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham submitted to the Office of Administrative Law an emergency rulemaking to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point, San Mateo County on Nov. 8, 2016. On Jan.1, 2017, new authority established in the Fish and Game Code, section 5523, allowed the Director to continue the closure. Opportunistic sampling of rock crabs and continued high domoic acid levels have prevented the reopening of fishing grounds north of Bodega Bay, Sonoma County since Feb. 2017. State and federal laws prohibit the commercial distribution of seafood products that contain domoic acid levels above the federal action level of 30 parts per million in the viscera. The recreational fishery for rock crab remains open statewide with a warning from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera of rock crab caught north of Salt Point, Sonoma County to the California/Oregon border.

Closure of the commercial rock crab fishery north of Salt Point, Sonoma County to the California/Oregon border shall remain in effect until the Director of OEHHA, in consultation with the Director of CDPH, determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommends the fishery be opened. CDFW will continue to coordinate with fishermen and CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in rock crab within the closure area of the coast. Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes fish. It causes illness and sometimes death in a variety of birds and marine mammals that consume affected organisms. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and can in some cases be fatal.

For more information:

Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (1/16/2018)

www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories

www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab

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Media Contacts:
Christy Juhasz, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2887
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Coho Salmon Released in Marin County’s Redwood Creek to Boost Spawning of Endangered Fish

In an effort to boost the population of spawning coho salmon in Marin County’s Redwood Creek, biologists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the National Park Service (NPS) today released nearly 200 adult coho salmon in the creek at Muir Beach.

The released coho salmon were collected as juveniles from Redwood Creek in the summer of 2015 at an age of 6 to 8 months and reared to adulthood at the Warm Springs Fish Hatchery in Geyserville at the base of the Lake Sonoma Dam.

The release of coho salmon this winter is the culmination of the Redwood Creek Coho Salmon Rescue and Captive Rearing Project. This project, a collaborative effort by CDFW, NPS, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the California Department of Parks and Recreation, was initiated in 2014 with the goal of preventing the extinction of the coho salmon, which is listed as an endangered species under both the California Endangered Species Act and the federal Endangered Species Act.

Prior to 2014, fewer than 10 adult coho salmon were estimated to have returned to Redwood Creek annually to spawn. The long decline of coho salmon in Redwood Creek has been accelerated by recent periods of poor ocean survival combined with the prolonged California drought. Coho salmon are more sensitive to habitat degradation and poor water quality than other Pacific salmon species since they rear as juveniles in freshwater for a year or more.

Biologists hope that the released fish will migrate upstream and spawn in the creek. NPS monitoring staff will survey the creek in the summer of 2018 and collect tissue samples from juvenile fish. Genetic analysis of the tissue samples will indicate how many of the released adult fish produced viable offspring.

The first major release of adult coho salmon in Redwood Creek occurred in the winter of 2016. A third and final release of adult coho salmon is planned for the winter of 2018-19.

More information about the Redwood Creek Coho Salmon Rescue and Captive Rearing Project can be found on the CDFW website at wildlife.ca.gov/Drought/Projects/Redwood-Creek-Coho. The Redwood Creek coho restoration project is part of a broader effort to sustain and restore coho salmon runs along the central and northern California coast.

Media Contacts:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908
Manfred Kittel, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (707) 944-5522

Dana Polk, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, National Park Service, (415) 786-8021
Darren Fong, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, National Park Service, (415) 289-1838

CDFW Photo by Peter Tira

Commercial Dungeness Crab Season to Open in Northern California

The northern California Dungeness crab fishery in Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties will open 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. The opener will be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that will begin at 8:01 a.m. Jan. 12, 2018.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham had delayed the season a total of three times after crab quality test results in November and December indicated that crab were not ready for harvesting. Jan. 15 is the latest the Director can delay the season due to quality testing.

Any vessel that landed crab from other ocean waters prior to the season opening in Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties) is prohibited from participating in the crab fishery in Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9, for 30 days following the opening of those areas. In Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9, the 30-day wait period ends on Feb. 14, 2018. Please refer to the latest CDFW Frequently Asked Questions for the current 2017-18 season concerning how the 30-day wait period also applies to Oregon and Washington’s delayed season openers.

“Although we have witnessed delays in the opening of the Dungeness crab commercial fishery in recent seasons due to domoic acid, a delay in the northern portion of the fishery due to quality isn’t unprecedented. The last time the northern season opener was delayed due to quality occurred with the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons and both those seasons started on Jan. 15,” said Christy Juhasz, CDFW Environmental Scientist.

There were also two areas in the north that were under a health advisory issued by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) due to domoic acid since the recreational fishery season opened on Nov. 4. These were lifted last month by CDPH after continual sampling of Dungeness crabs by CDPH showed the amount of domoic acid had declined to low or undetectable levels.

Recreational crabbing remains open in California statewide.

All anglers are strongly encouraged to download the 2017-18 Best Practices Guide and observe best practices to reduce incidences of whale entanglements with crab trap gear. This guide was developed by the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group, a collaborative effort between commercial crabbers, state and federal agencies, and non-profit organizations.

For more information on health advisories related to fisheries, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories.

More information on Dungeness crab, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab.

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Media Contacts:
Christy Juhasz, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2887
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 212-7352

Indiana Wildlife Artist Wins California Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest

A painting of a Wilson’s snipe has been chosen by a panel of judges as the winning entry in the 2017-2018 California Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest. The painting was created by Jeffrey Klinefelter of Etna Green, Ind.

Sponsored by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the annual contest is held to determine the official design for the upcoming year’s California Upland Game Bird Stamp.

Artists submitted their own original depiction of a Wilson’s snipe (Gallinago delicate), a charismatic, diminutive migratory game bird. The individual artists determined the setting and details, but entries had to include at least one Wilson’s snipe and be representative of the species’ natural habitat in California if a background was included.

Crawford 2017-2018 upland game second place

The entries were judged Wednesday by a panel of experts selected for their knowledge in the fields of ornithology, conservation, art and printing. Designs were judged on originality, artistic composition, anatomical accuracy and suitability for reproduction as a stamp and print.

The judges cited the anatomical accuracy of the representation of the Wilson’s snipe, and one judge praised the impressive “juxtaposition of the fine detail in the foreground with the almost dreamy background.”

Klinefelter created the painting based on his photograph of a Wilson’s snipe – after simplifying the original habitat with the intent of highlighting the bird.

Simons 2017-18 upland game third place

“That is where artistic license comes in,” said Klinefelter, a wildlife artist who also won the 2009-10 California Duck Stamp Contest. “The important thing when you are painting for a stamp is to avoid having your painting cluttered as that can take away from the visual impact of the species.”

Broderick Crawford of Clayton, Ga., placed second, Lawrence Simons of Lebanon, Ore., placed third and Erik Fleet of Julian (San Diego County) received honorable mention.

An upland game bird validation is required for hunting migratory and resident upland game birds in California. The validation replaces the stamp through CDFW’s Automated License Data System, but the stamp is still produced and available to hunters upon request. Money generated from upland game bird validation sales are dedicated solely to upland game bird-related conservation projects, hunting opportunities and outreach and education. CDFW annually sells about 175,000 upland game bird validations and distributes approximately 17,000 stamps.

Fleet 2017-18 upland game contest honorable with ribbon

Examples of recent CDFW projects funded by upland game bird validation sales include:

Estimating Factors That Influence Population Vital Rates and Space Use Patterns of Pheasant in the Central Valley of California. The ring-necked pheasant was introduced and established in North America during the 1800s and has long been a popular game bird for hunters. Although pheasants flourished in California during the 1900s, changes in agricultural and land-use practices in the latter half of the 20th Century reduced the amount and quality of habitat available to wild birds in the state and hunter harvest declined. This project uses telemetry to monitor pheasants and estimate population rates in different regions of the state. This information helps the support and maintenance of wild pheasant populations. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/birds/pheasant.

Habitat Development and Enhancement Projects at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. The project will improve approximately 149 acres of upland nesting and foraging habitat for pheasants, turkeys, doves, quail and other upland wildlife species at CDFW’s Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in Butte County. These improvements will enhance the department’s ability to manage water and increase the recruitment and survival of wildlife. The project will improve items such as nesting and foraging cover, and should result in higher pheasant, turkey, dove and quail populations. As all of the fields are located in the hunt area, the project will provide additional hunter opportunities. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/grants/upland-game-bird/projects.

Any individual who purchases an upland game bird validation may request their free collectable stamp by visiting www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/collector-stamps. An order form is also available on the website for collectors who do not purchase a hunting license or upland game bird validation or for hunters who wish to purchase additional collectible stamps.

Media Contacts:
Matt Meshriy, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 322-6719
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

A Section of the Commercial Spiny Lobster Fishery Closure around Santa Cruz Island has been Lifted

Today the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham lifted the commercial spiny lobster fishery closure on the south east side of Santa Cruz Island east of 119°40.000’ W. longitude, west of 119° 30.00’ W, and south of 34°00.000’ N. latitude as recommended by state health agencies. According to the notice from the Director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), sampling of spiny lobster and analysis of samples by California Department of Public Health (CDPH) laboratories indicates that consumption of spiny lobster taken from this area no longer poses a significant threat for domoic acid exposure.

On Oct. 24, 2017, state health agencies determined that spiny lobster in waters around Anacapa Island, Ventura County and the east end of Santa Cruz Island, Santa Barbara County had unhealthy levels of domoic acid and recommended closure of the commercial fishery in this area.

The commercial closure remains in effect in all state waters around the north east end of Santa Cruz Island east of 119°40.000’ W. longitude, west of 119° 30.00’ W, and north of 34°00.000’ N. latitude and south side of Anacapa Island east of 119°30.000’ W, west of 119°20.000’ W, and south of 34°00.000’ N latitude. State waters extend three nautical miles beyond outermost islands, reefs and rocks. The recreational fishery for spiny lobster remains open statewide with a warning from CDPH to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera (tomalley) of spiny lobster taken from the closed area.

This closure shall remain in effect until the Director of OEHHA, in consultation with the State Public Health Officer at CDPH, determines that domoic acid no longer poses a significant risk to public health and recommends the fishery be open in this area. CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in spiny lobster to determine when the fishery can safely be opened in the closed area.

Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin produced by a naturally occurring marine alga, whose levels can be increased under certain ocean conditions. State and federal laws prohibit the commercial distribution of seafood products that contain domoic acid levels above the federal action level, which is 20 parts per million in the viscera of spiny lobster.

For more information:

Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (12/29/17)

CDFW Declaration (12/29/17)

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Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

California Department of Fish and Wildlife News