Category Archives: Fisheries

CDFW Arrests Four Suspects for Commercial Sale of Sport Harvest Abalone

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A CDFW Wildlife Officer places an abalone poaching suspect under arrest.
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Wildlife officers observed the suspects using dive gear to harvest abalone for suspected sale on the black market.
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Dive gear seized as evidence on Sept. 20, 2017.

 

Wildlife officers have arrested four suspects on charges of harvesting abalone with a recreational fishing license then selling it on the black market for profit, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced. The arrests were preceded by a five-month investigation of the suspects, some of whom have been previously convicted of similar violations.

Arrested were Oakley resident Thepbangon Nonnarath, 48, El Sobrante resident Dennis Nonnarath, 45, and San Jose residents Thu Thi Tran, 45, and Cuong Huu Tran, 42.

The group came to the attention of CDFW wildlife officers in November 2016, when Thepbangon and Dennis Nonnarath and two associates were cited for multiple abalone violations at Moat Creek, a popular recreational abalone fishery in Mendocino County. Thepbangon Nonnarath had previous abalone poaching convictions and the wildlife officers suspected the group may be engaged in the commercial sale of recreationally harvested abalone, which is unlawful.

Beginning in May 2017, wildlife officers observed suspicious activity by the same group of suspects in several popular recreational abalone diving locations in both Mendocino and Sonoma counties. Further investigation revealed an extended group of people who were harvesting abalone and allegedly selling it on the black market. The five-month investigation uncovered evidence of various poaching crimes among the group, including unlawful sale of sport caught abalone, take of abalone for personal profit, commercial possession of sport caught abalone, exceeding the seasonal limit of abalone, falsification of abalone tags and conspiracy to commit a crime, among others.

“The collective efforts of these suspected poachers show a blatant disregard for the regulations designed to protect California’s abalone resources,” said David Bess, Chief of CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division. “Whether it be California abalone or African ivory, wildlife officers will not tolerate trafficking of our wildlife resources.”

The alleged abalone poaching crimes occurred at a time when abalone are facing significant threats to their populations due to unprecedented environmental and biological stressors. As a result, the California Fish and Game Commission has re-adopted an emergency abalone regulation to continue the restriction of the annual abalone limit to 12 abalone per person and continue the reduced open season which is limited to May, June, August, September and October.

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Media Contact:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-9982

 

Feather River Hatchery Salmon Ladder Now Open

The fish ladder at Feather River Hatchery in Oroville opened Monday, Sept. 18, signaling the start of the spawning season on the Feather River. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) hatchery workers opened the gates in the ladder about 8 a.m. Normally more than 3 million spring-run eggs and 12 million fall-run eggs are taken over the next two months in order to produce Chinook salmon for release next spring.

Visitors can observe the salmon through the viewing windows and from the observation deck located at the base of the fish barrier dam. At the main side of the hatchery, visitors can observe CDFW technicians performing the spawning process.

The public viewing areas have been repaired and are safe for the public after sustaining damage in the aftermath of the Oroville Dam spillway incident in February.

As the fall fishing season begins, CDFW reminds anglers to release any fish tagged with green and yellow Hallprint tags located on the dorsal fin. These tags have no monetary value and are used to identify spring-run salmon, a state and federally listed threatened species that cannot be possessed.

Thousands of school children tour the Feather River Hatchery each year. For more information about spawning schedules and educational opportunities at the Feather River Hatchery, please call (530) 538-2222. For information about hatchery tours, please call (530) 534-2306.

There are nine state-run anadromous salmon and steelhead hatcheries, all of which will participate in the salmon spawning effort. Those hatcheries, along with federally run hatcheries, will be responsible for the release of 40 million juvenile fall-run Chinook salmon into California waters. These massive spawning efforts were put in place over the last 50 years to offset fish losses caused by dams that block salmon from historic spawning habitat.

Once the young salmon reach 2 to 4 inches in length, 100 percent of the spring-run stock and 25 percent of the fall-run stock will be adipose fin clipped and implanted with coded wire tags prior to release. CDFW biologists use the information from the tags to chart the survival, catch and return rates of the fish.

For more information about California’s fish hatcheries, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/hatcheries.

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Media Contacts:
Penny Crawshaw, Feather River Hatchery, (530) 538-2222

Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 201-2958

 

Anglers Reminded to Avoid Yelloweye Rockfish

In anticipation of the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds all anglers to avoid yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) when engaging in recreational ocean fishing.

CDFW urges anglers to avoid fishing in areas where yelloweye rockfish are known to occur (e.g., rocky outcrops and pinnacles). If taken, yelloweye rockfish should be immediately returned to the water with a descending device to minimize injury and mortality. CDFW also encourages anglers who encounter them to change fishing locations to prevent catching additional yelloweye rockfish.

Yelloweye rockfish are a long-lived, slow-growing shelf rockfish species that was declared overfished in 2002. They are currently managed under a strict federal rebuilding plan to allow the population to recover, which has required significant cutbacks to West Coast sport and commercial fisheries for over a decade.

For more information regarding groundfish regulations, management, stock status information, fish identification tools and current catch trends, please visit the CDFW Marine Region Groundfish Central website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Groundfish.

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Media Contacts:
Joanna Grebel, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 601-2279
Carrie Wilson, CDFW Communications, (831) 238-2044

 

 

Fall Chinook Season Closed on Klamath and Trinity Rivers

CDFW reminds anglers that fall Chinook salmon fishing on the Klamath and Trinity rivers is prohibited beginning Aug. 15, 2017 on the Klamath River and Sept. 1, 2017 on the Trinity River. Angling for steelhead remains open on both rivers for the entire year.

Due to historically low stock projections of fall Chinook in the Klamath Basin for 2017, a full fishing closure was adopted by the California Fish and Game Commission earlier this year.

The fall Chinook fishing season is defined as Aug. 15 through Dec. 31 on the Klamath River and Sept. 1 through Dec. 31 on the Trinity River. All Chinook incidentally caught during these respective dates must be immediately returned to the river.

Fishing for steelhead trout remains open in designated areas. The daily bag limit is two hatchery steelhead and the possession limit is four hatchery steelhead. Hatchery steelhead can be identified by a healed adipose fin clip (the adipose fin is absent). All wild steelhead (with an intact adipose fin) caught must be immediately returned to the water. Please consult the 2017-2018 supplemental sport fishing regulations for further information on open areas and gear restrictions that may apply.

The low projected stock abundance of Klamath Basin fall Chinook this year is thought to have been caused by several environmental factors, including severe drought and poor ocean conditions. Klamath Basin fall Chinook are managed for conservation thresholds and long-term sustainability, and the closures this year are designed to maximize spawning escapement to rebuild future population abundance.

The Klamath fall Chinook stock will be re-evaluated in the winter and spring of 2018, at which time a new forecast and potential harvest quotas will be developed for 2018 in-river and ocean fisheries.   Klamath Basin fall Chinook regulations are typically adopted by the California Fish and Game Commission in April of each year.

Media Contacts:
Wade Sinnen, CDFW Northern Region, (707) 822-5119
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

 

 CDFW Reminds Anglers that White Sharks are Protected from Fishing

 

As the summer months approach and with increased sightings of White Sharks off Southern California beaches, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is issuing a reminder that White Sharks are a protected species under both state and federal fisheries laws and regulations.

“White Sharks are regularly found in Southern California in summer months, usually heading to Mexico in the winter,” said John Ugoretz, CDFW’s Pelagic Fisheries and Ecosystem Program Manager. “With relatively warm water last year, the sharks may have stayed closer and in greater numbers. Many anglers are wondering if they can catch a White Shark but, as a top level predator critical to the marine ecosystem, White Sharks are protected.”

In 1994, White Sharks received special protected status in California law, which prohibits take of White Sharks, except by special permit and some commercial incidental take allowances. Additionally, state regulations protect White Sharks from recreational fishing. Federal regulations implemented in 2004 prohibit White Shark retention in California, requiring their immediate release if caught. Under these protections, it is illegal to fish for or purposely attract White Sharks and they must be released immediately if incidentally caught while fishing for other species.

These laws and regulations are in place because of White Shark biology. As a top-level predator with naturally low reproduction, white sharks are susceptible to overfishing. Additionally, nearshore areas in northern Baja and Southern California are known as a “nursery ground” for juvenile White Sharks. Most of the sharks observed off Southern California beaches are sub-adults that typically feed on fish. Sharks in this high human population area can be particularly vulnerable to capture and incidental take.

According to CDFW Law Enforcement Division Captain Rebecca Hartman, “it is illegal not only to catch and keep a White Shark, but to pursue one as well.” This means intentionally pursuing or otherwise attracting White Sharks is prohibited.

With White Sharks near Southern California beaches, CDFW Wildlife Officers will be looking for people trying to catch them. “We want to protect the sharks and the public,” said Captain Hartman. “Our biggest concern is that someone will accidentally hurt themselves or someone else while illegally trying to catch a White Shark.”

To learn more about White Sharks in California, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/White-Shark.

Media Contacts:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937
John Ugoretz, CDFW Marine Region, (805) 568-1226
Rebecca Hartman, CDFW Law Enforcement, (310) 678-4864

 

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