Category Archives: Fishing (Commercial)

Entanglement Settlement Protects Whales, Sea Turtles and California’s Crab Fishery

SAN FRANCISCO — Californians will be pleased to know that Dungeness crab will be caught off the coast with greater care for endangered wildlife under a settlement announced by the Center for Biological Diversity, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA).

The legal settlement protects whales and sea turtles from entanglement in commercial Dungeness crab gear. The Center for Biological Diversity sued CDFW in October 2017 after a drastic increase in the number of whale entanglements off the West Coast.

“As I’ve said many times, no one wants whale entanglements to happen,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “This agreement represents hours of intense negotiation to help ensure they don’t happen while supporting the resiliency of the crab fishery in the long run. I am thankful for the leadership of the Center for Biological Diversity and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations who realized something needed to be done together.”

“This is great news for whales and sea turtles fighting extinction off California’s coast,” said Kristen Monsell, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney. “The settlement will reduce serious threats from crab gear to these beautiful and highly endangered animals. This agreement is a turning point that gets us closer to zero entanglements and a healthy ocean.”

The lawsuit was brought by the Center for Biological Diversity against CDFW (Center for Biological Diversity v. Bonham) in federal court in San Francisco. The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, which represents crabbers, intervened in the lawsuit.

The settlement, subject to court approval, creates a comprehensive approach to the problem of whale entanglements. It expedites state regulation, ensures stakeholder input from the Dungeness crab Fishing Gear Working Group and formalizes a first-ever commitment by CDFW to pursue a federal permit for protecting endangered species. While these steps are executed, the settlement calls for this year’s crab season to end three months early and prescribes protective measures for future springtime fishing seasons, when the greatest number of whales are present off the California coast.

In November 2018, CDFW announced it would seek a federal permit under the Endangered Species Act to address protected species interactions with the crab fishery. Obtaining a permit and developing a conservation plan as part of that process can take years, so the settlement spells out interim protections.

“This settlement represents the path back to normality for California’s crab fishery with built-in protections for whales and crab fishing operations under the Endangered Species Act,” said Noah Oppenheim, executive director of PCFFA. “The past several years have been extraordinarily challenging for fishing families, and the actions we’re taking here are no exception. But in the end, we’re going to emerge together with a resilient, prosperous, and protective fishery that will continue to feed California and the nation.”

Details of the settlement can be found at http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=166146.

The mission of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is to manage California’s diverse fish, wildlife, and plant resources, and the habitats upon which they depend, for their ecological values and for their use and enjoyment by the public.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations is the largest commercial fishermen’s organization on the West Coast, representing 17 local and regional associations from Santa Barbara to Southeast Alaska. As a major commercial fishing industry trade association, PCFFA represents the interests of commercial fishing families who make their living harvesting and delivering high-quality seafood to America’s tables.

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Media Contacts:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW, (916) 654-9937
Kristen Monsell, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 844-7137
Noah Oppenheim, PCFFA, (415) 723-1801 or Michael Coats, (707) 235-6203

Public Comment Sought on Statewide Regulation Changes of Trout Season

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will host a series of statewide meetings to inform the public and seek input on the proposed new statewide changes for trout fishing regulations.

“The California Fish and Game Commission directed our department to make the regulations and seasons more simple and easy to understand, while continuing to protect and manage the state’s trout resources,” said Roger Bloom, CDFW Inland Fisheries Program Manager. “We look forward to explaining how these new changes came about, and how they could be implemented.”

The meetings will focus on the following key areas:

  • Objectives of the new regulation framework and species management goals
  • Parameters of the regulation standardization and consolidation process
  • Review of specific proposed changes to regulations

CDFW personnel will be available at information stations to answer questions and listen to stakeholder interests, needs and ideas. All stakeholder input will be taken into consideration as a regulation simplification package is developed for formal public review through the California Fish and Game Commission.

Meetings will be held on the following dates:

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
6-8 p.m.
Talman Pavilion, Tricounty Fairgrounds, 1234 Fair St., Bishop

Wednesday, March 27, 2019
6-8 p.m.
Redding Library Community Room, 1100 Parkview Ave., Redding

Wednesday, April 3, 2019
6-8 p.m.
Betty Rodriguez Regional Library, 3040 N. Cedar Ave., Fresno

Saturday, April 6, 2019
Noon-2 p.m.
Bass Pro Shops, 7777 Victoria Gardens Lane, Rancho Cucamonga

Wednesday, April 10, 2019
6-8 p.m.
Colonial Heights Library Community Room, 4799 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento

Tuesday, April 23, 2019
6-8 p.m.
Truckee-Tahoe Airport Community Room, 10356 Truckee Airport Road, Truckee

More information is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/inland/trout-plan. Meetings are in-person only and no conference line or webcast will be available.

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Media Contacts:
Roger Bloom, CDFW Inland Fisheries Program, (916) 445-3777

Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8911
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

‘Slightly Improved’ Forecast for California’s 2019 Ocean Salmon Season

California’s 2019 ocean salmon fishing season should be slightly better than last year’s, according to information presented at this week’s annual Salmon Information Meeting held in Santa Rosa by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). The ocean abundance projections for Sacramento River fall Chinook (SRFC), a main salmon stock harvested in California waters, is estimated at 379,600 adult salmon, an increase over 2018 forecasts. This may result in increased fishing opportunity in some central coastal areas. The Klamath River fall Chinook (KRFC) abundance forecast of 274,200 adult salmon is lower than 2018 forecast, but still an improvement over low forecast numbers seen in recent years.

“We are cautiously optimistic that the increase in ocean abundance of SRFC will translate into more fishing opportunity this year,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Kandice Morgenstern.

Recreational anglers and commercial salmon trollers at the meeting provided comments and voiced concerns to a panel of fishery managers, scientists and industry representatives. Stakeholder input will be taken into consideration when developing three season alternatives during the March 6-12 Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) meeting in Vancouver, Wash. Final ocean salmon seasons will be adopted during the April 9-16 PFMC meeting in Rohnert Park.

The PFMC may take a conservative approach when crafting 2019 ocean salmon seasons since both SRFC and KRFC stocks are considered to be overfished under the terms of the federal Salmon Fishery Management Plan due to three years of low spawning escapement. Additionally, persistent concerns over protected Sacramento River winter Chinook and California Coastal Chinook could limit fishing opportunity south of Point Arena and north of Point Sur, respectively.

For more information on the salmon season setting process or general ocean salmon fishing information, please visit the Ocean Salmon Project website or call the ocean salmon hotline at (707) 576-3429.

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Media Contacts:
Chenchen Shen, CDFW Ocean Salmon Team, (707) 576-2885
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

 

Northern Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Further Delayed in Ocean Waters North of Patrick’s Point, Humboldt County due to Public Health Hazard

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham delayed the opening of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery from Patrick’s Point, Humboldt County north to the California/Oregon state line after state health agencies recommended to delay the fishery in the area due to elevated levels of domoic acid.

The commercial Dungeness crab fishery in the area south of Patrick’s Point, Humboldt County to the Sonoma/Mendocino county line will open at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019, to be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12.

This delay shall remain in effect until the Director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), in consultation with the State Public Health Officer at California Department of Public Health (CDPH), determines that domoic acid no longer poses a significant risk to public health and recommends opening the fishery in this region. CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in Dungeness crab to determine when the commercial fishery in this area can safely be opened.

No vessel may take, possess or land crab within a delayed area during the closure period. In addition, any vessel that takes, possesses on board or lands Dungeness crab from ocean waters outside of this delayed area is prohibited from taking, possessing onboard or landing Dungeness crab for 30 days in this area once it opens to commercial fishing pursuant to Section 8279.1 of the Fish and Game Code.

Once a positive determination is made to open the fishery, CDFW may provide the fleet a minimum of 72-hour advance notice announcing when trap gear can be set.

For more information, please see CDFW’s Frequently Asked Questions regarding the 2018-19 Dungeness crab commercial season.

This area north of Patrick’s Point remains closed for recreational take of Dungeness crab, also due to domoic acid.

Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin produced by a naturally occurring marine alga, whose levels can be increased under certain ocean conditions, and 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 death.

For more information:

Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (1/7/2019)

CDFW Director’s Closure Declaration (1/7/2019)

2018-19 Frequently Asked Questions for the Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery (12/3/2018)

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

www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab

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

Northern California Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Delay Extended

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham announced an additional and final 15-day delay of the northern California commercial Dungeness crab season. Pending possible closures due to elevated levels of domoic acid, the season is now set to begin on Jan. 15, 2019.

Quality tests as prescribed by the Pre-Season Testing Protocol for the Tri-State Coastal Dungeness Commercial Fishery were scheduled to occur this week, but rough ocean conditions prevented vessels from safely deploying and retrieving traps. This protocol requires that tested crab achieve a meat recovery rate to ensure that crab are ready for harvest. Previous quality test results from Dungeness crab collected on Nov. 3 and Dec. 4 indicated that crab did not have enough meat. Without any passing test results from these areas, the Director continued to delay the season to Jan. 15, the final date a quality delay can be set to occur.

Delays due to quality only affect the northern commercial fishery in California Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties). The season in these districts is now scheduled to open at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 15, 2019, to be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Jan. 12, 2019.  Two areas in northern California continue to be sampled for domoic acid and it is unknown whether any further delays may occur based continued domoic acid testing.

Crab are evaluated to compare meat weight to total crab weight to determine whether they are ready for harvest under testing guidelines established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee. If results indicate low or poor quality, the Director may delay the fishery in Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties, under authority of Fish and Game Code, section 8276.2.

No vessel may take or land crab in an area closed for a meat quality delay (i.e., Fish and Game districts 6, 7, 8 and 9) or within an area closed for a domoic acid delay. In addition, any vessel that takes, possesses onboard or lands crab from ocean waters outside of a delayed area is prohibited from participating in the crab fishery in any delayed area for 30 days following the opening of those areas. This applies to any delayed areas in Oregon and Washington as well as in California.

Please refer to the latest Frequently Asked Questions for the current 2018-19 season that addresses questions regarding the Fair Start provision.

For more information about Dungeness crab fisheries in California, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab.

For more information on health advisories related to fisheries, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/health-advisories.

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Media Contacts:
Christy Juhasz, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2887
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988