Angler holding north coast salmon

Fishing Report Cards Due Soon

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds anglers that Jan. 31, 2020 is the due date for turning in steelhead, sturgeon and north coast salmon report card data.

Information collected from sport fishing report cards provides CDFW biologists with important data necessary to monitor and manage California’s diverse recreational fisheries, including preparing recommendations for sport fishing seasons and limits that allow for sustainable levels of take. This science-based management helps to ensure healthy populations of fish for future generations.

Anglers are required to return their report cards even if they lost their report card, they did not fish or they did not catch any fish. Cards should be reviewed carefully for accuracy prior to submission.

There are two ways to meet the mandatory angler reporting requirement. Online reporting through the CDFW website is easy, fast and free, and includes instant confirmation that the report has been received and accepted.

Sport fishing report cards may also be returned by mail to the addresses listed below:

  • North Coast Salmon Report Cards
    CDFW – Klamath River Project
    5341 Ericson Way
    Arcata, CA 95521-9269
  • Steelhead Report Cards
    CDFW – Steelhead Report Card
    P.O. Box 944209
    Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
  • Sturgeon Report Cards
    CDFW – Sturgeon Report Card
    P.O. Box 944209
    Sacramento, CA 94244-2090

The Jan. 31, 2020 deadline does not apply to spiny lobster report cards. Spiny lobster report cards are due by Apr. 30, 2020, following the last day of spiny lobster season on March 18.

Please note that license sales agents cannot accept report cards. More information about report cards is available at wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing.

Media Contacts:
Xao Yang, CDFW License and Revenue Branch, (916) 928-5841

Tim Daly, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

California Fish and Game Commission Meets in Sacramento

At its December 2019 meeting in Sacramento, the California Fish and Game Commission  took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from the two-day meeting.

The Commission made a listing decision under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) regarding the foothill yellow-legged frog. Due to the level of genetic divergence, geographic isolation, and differing levels of imperilment between populations and threats within these populations, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recommended separating the listing into different clades for the foothill yellow-legged frog. The Commission’s decision was consistent with that recommendation. The Commission listed the Southern Sierra, Central Coast and South Coast clades as endangered under CESA, and the Feather River and Northern Sierra clades as threatened under CESA. The Commission also decided that listing the North Coast clade is not warranted at this time. The Commission is scheduled to adopt findings for the decision at its February 2020 meeting.

The Commission recognized five newly inducted members of the California Waterfowler’s Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees are L. Ryan Broddrick, Dean A. Cortopassi, John M. Eadie, Richard Janson and Mickey W. Saso. The California Waterfowler’s Hall of Fame was established in 2006 to recognize those individuals who have made significant contributions to enhancing waterfowl and their habitats in California.

After hearing from numerous Delta anglers, the Commission voted to postpone adoption of a Delta Fisheries Management Policy and potential amendments to the Commission’s Striped Bass Policy to a future meeting.

Successful and sound management of game populations has allowed for the Commission to authorize publication of notice to amend hunting regulations for big game mammals and waterfowl. Amendments to be considered include additional hunting opportunities in some elk and desert bighorn sheep zones where populations continue to thrive, and new hunting opportunities for veterans and active military personnel for waterfowl hunting.

The Commission authorized publication of notice to amend the regulations for CDFW lands to add properties to the lists of wildlife areas and ecological reserves, and to remove properties from those lists for which CDFW no longer has management authority. This focused regulatory package also proposes authorization of new site-specific public uses, as well as other amendments to address operational or public safety concerns.

The Commission received an annual report from CDFW on management activities of the Statewide Marine Protected Area Program and heard other marine-related items.

The Commission also elected to move the dates of the next meeting to Feb. 20-21, 2020 with marine items being heard on the first day and wildlife items on the second day.

Commission President Eric Sklar, Vice President Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Commissioner Samantha Murray were present. Commissioners Russell Burns and Peter Silva were absent.

The full Commission agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is 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.

Help Protect Steelhead Trout: Clean, Drain and Dry Fishing Gear to Prevent Spread of New Zealand Mudsnails

With the December 1st opening of steelhead trout fishing in coastal counties south of San Francisco, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds anglers that it’s critically important to clean gear after every fishing outing. This practice helps prevent the spread of New Zealand mudsnails (NZMS), tiny (3/16”) aquatic snails capable of surviving out of water in the crevasses of damp gear for weeks.

The resiliency of NZMS has enabled them to spread to aquatic environments across the globe, including Europe, Australia, North America, and Asia. To prevent further spread, anglers and others who wade or work in California waters should thoroughly clean all gear before using it in another waterbody.

“While New Zealand mudsnails have been detected in watersheds across the state, many watersheds and counties remain free of this unwanted species. Anglers and the public are key to keeping these waters free of mudsnails,” said CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist George Neillands.

NZMS were first reported in California in 2000 in the Owens River (Inyo and Mono counties). In 2003, NZMS were discovered in northern California in Putah Creek (Yolo County) and the Mokelumne River (San Joaquin River). They have since been detected in one or more waterbodies in 27 additional counties (Alameda, Butte, Calaveras, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Los Angeles, Marin, Mendocino, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Orange, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tehama, Ventura, and Yuba).

NZMS can survive in a variety of environments including rivers, streams, reservoirs and estuaries. They are parthenogenic live-bearers, meaning they self-reproduce. This enables a new population to begin from only one snail. NZMS have demonstrated the potential to reach high densities of up to nearly one million snails per square meter and comprising up to 95 percent of the invertebrate biomass of a river. When they reach high densities, NZMS outcompete native insects and invertebrates for space and algae, which reduces the forage available to steelhead trout. As a result, steelhead populations can decline. Once NZMS are established in a body of water, it may not be possible to eradicate them.

Here’s what you can do to prevent the spread of NZMS:

  • After leaving a body of water, inspect all gear including waders, boots and float tubes. Also inspect boats and trailers. Remove visible debris with a stiff brush and rinse on site.
  • Freeze waders and other gear overnight (for a minimum of six hours) or dry completely between use.
  • Use additional waders and boots in infested waters and store them separately.
  • Never transport live fish or other aquatic animals or plants from one waterbody to another.

For more information on NZMS visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/NZMS

Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Media Contacts:

George Neillands, CDFW Region 3 Fisheries, (707) 576-2812

Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

Dungeness crabs

CDFW Director Delays Commercial Dungeness Crab Season South of Sonoma/Mendocino County Line

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham has issued a declaration delaying the Nov. 22, 2019 start date for the California Dungeness crab fishery south of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line. Under the authority of Section 8276.1(c)(1) of the Fish and Game Code, the Director may restrict take of commercial Dungeness crab after making a preliminary determination that there is a significant risk of marine life entanglement due to fishing gear. The opening of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery in this area will be delayed until Dec. 15, 2019. Pursuant to Fish and Game Code, section 8283, traps may be set and baited 18 hours in advance of the opening date. A pre-soak period can commence at 6 a.m. on Dec. 14, 2019.

Before taking this action, the Director considered all recommendations and information provided within the public notice period that ended at 4:45 p.m. on Nov. 22. No vessel may take, possess or land crab in an area closed for a significant entanglement risk. Fishing gear may not be deployed in any area closed to fishing.

CDFW would like to acknowledge the commitment by the commercial fishing fleet and various stakeholders to help inform management of this important commercial fishery. CDFW understands the crab fishery’s value to coastal communities and is committed to ensuring a robust fishery while taking appropriate steps to minimize marine life entanglements to the extent practicable.

CDFW is committed to continuing to evaluate information as it is available in real-time to ensure that restrictions on the fishery are lifted as expeditiously as possible. CDFW will convene a meeting of the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group in early December to evaluate risk factors and determine if the fishery can be opened prior to Dec. 15.

Throughout the course of the crab season, CDFW will engage regularly with the Working Group to review scientific information and advise efforts to minimize the risk of whale and sea turtle entanglements while maximizing fishing opportunity. Based on that process, CDFW may take additional management actions in response to future risk assessments. For more information related to the risk assessment process or this delay, please visit CDFW’s Whale Safe Fisheries webpage.

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

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

Ryan Bartling, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2877

Dungeness Crab Commercial Season Update

Based on updated information and in response to concerns from the commercial Dungeness crab fleet, including written requests from Port Associations to further delay, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham intends to further delay the start date for the California Dungeness crab fishery south of the Mendocino/Sonoma county line.

Today, Director Bonham issued a preliminary determination that the Nov. 22, 2019 start date poses a significant risk of marine life entanglement. The anticipated management response is a further delay of the opening of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery in that area until Dec. 15, 2019.

An aerial survey conducted by CDFW within Greater Farallones and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries on Monday, Nov. 18 showed whales throughout the survey area with concentrations foraging in depths between 30 and 50 fathoms off Point Reyes and Half Moon Bay. CDFW is working to schedule a follow up aerial reconnaissance flight to further evaluate whale presence in advance of Dec. 15 and will convene the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group the first week of December to conduct a risk evaluation.

Under the authority of Fish and Game Code, section 8276.1(c)(1), the Director may restrict take of commercial Dungeness crab if there is a significant risk of marine life entanglement due to fishing gear. As required in Fish and Game Code, section 8276.1(c)(4), the Director is providing 48 hours’ notice to the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group and other stakeholders.

Director Bonham will consider any recommendations or new information provided by 4:45 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. Anyone with recommendations and information related to this preliminary determination should submit it to whalesafefisheries@wildlife.ca.gov by that deadline.

No vessel may take, possess or land crab in an area closed for a significant entanglement risk. Fishing gear may not be deployed in any area closed to fishing.

CDFW, the fleet and the interested stakeholders are still at the start of an emerging effort to implement real-time decision-making processes. For the last 24 hours, CDFW has been engaged in real-time discussion and decision making, responding to industry requests for further delay.

Everyone recognizes the risks and all are committed to addressing that risk and developing the tools to assess and manage risk with more refinement. CDFW is committed to continuing to evaluate information as it is available in real-time to ensure that restrictions on the fishery are lifted as expeditiously as possible. CDFW appreciates the challenges and difficulties that come with the beginning of a new approach, and we appreciate the understanding of the public, the fleet, the Working Group and Californians hungry for crabs.

In related news, test results received today from the California Department of Public Health show there is no longer a public health concern regarding the safety of crab from the Mendocino/Sonoma county line to the California/Mexico border.

For the latest information on the Dungeness crab season, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab and 2019-2020 Dungeness Crab Fishery Best Practices Guide.

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Media Contacts:
Ryan Bartling, CDFW Marine Region, (415) 761-1843
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937