Category Archives: Marine

CDFW Seeks Input on 2018 Recreational Pacific Halibut Season Dates

California anglers interested in the recreational Pacific halibut fishery are invited to provide input to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) via an online survey.

The short survey, which will be open through Feb. 23, will help inform CDFW biologists about angler preferences for open fishing dates during the upcoming 2018 season. Results of the survey will be used to develop recommended season dates that will be provided to the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The survey link is online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/LHHYJXG.

The Pacific halibut fishery takes place off the northern California coast. In 2017, the fishery was open May 1-June 15, July 1-15, Aug. 1-15 and Sept. 1-10. The fishery closed Sept. 11 due to projected attainment of the California quota.

For more information on the Pacific halibut fishery in California, please visit CDFW’s Pacific Halibut webpage.

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Media Contacts:
Melanie Parker, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 649-2814
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

CDFW to Host Public Meeting on Ocean Salmon Fisheries 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites the public to attend its upcoming annual Salmon Information Meeting to learn more about the state of California’s salmon fishery. The meeting will be held Thursday, March 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sonoma County Water Agency, 404 Aviation Blvd. in Santa Rosa (95403).

A review of last year’s ocean salmon fisheries and spawning escapement will be presented along with the outlook for this year’s sport and commercial ocean salmon fisheries.

Anglers are encouraged to provide input on potential fishing seasons to a panel of California salmon scientists, managers and representatives who will be directly involved in the upcoming Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) meetings in March and April.

Salmon fishing seasons are developed through a collaborative process involving the PFMC, state, federal and tribal agencies, and west coast stakeholders interested in salmon fishery management and conservation. Public input will help California representatives develop a range of recommended season alternatives during the March 8-14 PFMC meeting in Rohnert Park, Calif. Final adoption of ocean salmon season regulations will occur during the April 5-11 PFMC meeting in Portland, Ore.

The 2018 Salmon Information Meeting marks the beginning of a two-month long public process used to establish annual sport and commercial ocean salmon seasons. A list of additional meetings and other opportunities for public comment is available on CDFW’s ocean salmon web page, www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon/preseason.

The meeting agenda and handouts will be posted online as soon as they become available.

Media Contacts:
Kandice Morgenstern, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2879
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

Commission Suspends License of Sportfishing Charter Boat Operator for Poaching in Southern California Marine Protected Areas

The California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) today ordered a five-year suspension of the license of Pacific Star Sportfishing, Inc., a recreational sportfishing vessel operator. The decision was made following oral arguments heard at the Commission meeting today in Sacramento.

In an undercover operation and subsequent boarding by officers in 2013, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wildlife officers observed 18 violations including poaching within California’s marine protected area (MPA) network, exceeding the possession limits of several fish species, using illegal methods to take fish and failing to report accurate counts on logbooks. Based on these violations, CDFW filed an accusation with the Commission against Pacific Star requesting that the Commission suspend this commercial passenger fishing vessel license.

“Illegal take of our marine resources, especially in MPAs, undermines the tireless work of law enforcement, scientists, the public and fishermen in California,” said Commission President Eric Sklar. “The Commission took ample time to review the department’s accusation and we hope this serves as a message that we do not take lightly these sorts of violations and will ensure those who are responsible receive the appropriate penalty.”

The Commission’s decision today follows a two-day hearing in 2017 conducted by an administrative law judge on behalf of the Commission with CDFW and Pacific Star both participating. The judge ultimately proposed that the Commission suspend the license for two years, with only the first 90 days of the suspension taking effect so long as Pacific Star complied with certain terms of probation. The Commission rejected that proposal as inadequate and gave CDFW and Pacific Star each 15 minutes today to argue their positions, resulting in today’s suspension.

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Media Contacts:
Michael Yaun, Commission Legal Counsel, (916) 653-4899
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program Evaluation Report Now Available

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has released the Evaluation Report for the Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program (OREHP).

The report concludes that while the OREHP has significantly contributed to the scientific understanding of marine enhancement science, it has not substantially increased the abundance of legal-sized White Seabass, resulting in less than one percent contribution to recreational and commercial fisheries catches. The information generated by the program, to date, can be used as a learning experience for enhancement of wild populations, whether focusing on White Seabass or other species. CDFW will use this information along with public input to guide decisions regarding the future of the OREHP.

The OREHP was established by the California Legislature in 1983 to conduct research into the restoration and enhancement of marine finfish species populations important to California for their sport and commercial fishing value. The program, the longest-running experimental marine fish stock enhancement program in the United States, is managed by CDFW with the assistance of the Ocean Resources Enhancement Advisory Panel. The OREHP includes a marine fish hatchery operated by Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI), and 10 growout pens operated by volunteer organizations throughout Southern California. White Seabass are raised at the hatchery and transported to the growout pens for their eventual release along the coast.

In 2015, CDFW contracted California Sea Grant (CASG) to coordinate the first formal, comprehensive review of the program’s progress toward achieving its goals and objectives. With guidance from CDFW and HSWRI, CASG recommended a science advisory committee comprised of nine scientists from around the country to evaluate the program. The committee, appointed by CDFW Director, Charlton H. Bonham, included members with expertise in a wide variety of disciplines, including aquaculture, fish pathology, population dynamics, genetics and water quality.

During the two-year review process, the committee assessed the hatchery’s functionality and efficiency, considered alternative hatchery uses, assessed environmental impacts, documented scientific accomplishments, assessed economic costs and benefits, and evaluated the extent to which the OREHP has succeeded in enhancing wild White Seabass stocks. The report details the committee’s evaluation process, including development of scientific review criteria, summary and synthesis of all available OREHP data, and identification of key findings, gaps in information, and recommendations for better meeting the program’s objectives and goals.

CDFW will conduct public scoping meetings in Southern California to receive comments on the evaluation and discuss potential next steps for the OREHP in early 2018.

Media Contacts:
Valerie Taylor, CDFW Marine Region, (562) 342-7170
Kathryn Johnson, CDFW Marine Region, (562) 342-7179
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Three Abalone Poachers Hit with Heavy Fines, Other Penalties

The Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office has settled three major abalone poaching cases involving Fort Bragg, Sacramento and Bay Area abalone poachers, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced.

Two of the settled cases resulted in hefty fines and other penalties for restaurant owners:

  • Steven Yuan Qin Liang, 47, of Fort Bragg pled
    LiangAbaloneCase
    Evidence seized in the Liang case.

    guilty to felony conspiracy involving the purchase and black market sales of sport-caught abalone for personal profit. Liang, owner of the Asian Buffet restaurant in Fort Bragg, was ordered to serve 360 days in the Mendocino County Jail, placed on probation for 36 months and ordered to pay a fine of $15,000. He is prohibited from obtaining a sport or commercial fishing license for life.

  • Bryant Chiu Shiu Lee, 44, of Sacramento, pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of purchasing abalone for black market resale. Lee, owner of the Sushi Café in Sacramento, was placed on probation for 36 months and ordered to pay a fine of $40,000. He is prohibited from obtaining a sport or commercial fishing license for life.

Liang and Lee were both convicted in late 2017, following a joint investigation by the CDFW Special Operations Unit and Mendocino Coast squad that began in June 2015.

In the third case, the strange circumstances surrounding an emergency rescue led to an investigation and eventual conviction.

  • Justin Joseph Adams, 44, of Alameda, pled guilty to charges of conspiracy and taking abalone for black market sale. He was ordered to serve 210 days in the Mendocino County Jail, was placed on probation for 36 months and was ordered to pay a fine of $15,000. He is also prohibited from obtaining a sport or commercial fishing license for life.
Adams case April 2017
Evidence seized in the Adams case.

In April 2017, wildlife officers received information from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department, Elk Volunteer Fire Department and Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department about odd circumstances surrounding a cliff rescue in Elk, Mendocino County. Adams had been dropped off by a friend the day before at the headlands just north of Cuffy’s Cove in Elk. He climbed down a steep cliff to the water’s edge and harvested abalone during low tide, but when the tide returned, his return route was blocked. When he failed to appear at a pre-determined pick-up location, a friend called in a missing persons report. Rescuers found Adams stranded on the side of a steep cliff and extracted him around 2 a.m.

Wildlife officers suspected poaching activity may have factored into Adams’ predicament. The day after the rescue, CDFW Lt. Joel Hendricks and Warden Don Powers donned wetsuits and swam to the location below where Adams was rescued to look for evidence of poaching. In a deep cut under the bluff, directly under the location of Adams’ rescue, they found two bags containing 38 abalone. One of the bags also contained a half-consumed plastic bottle of water. After obtaining a DNA sample from Adams via a search warrant, they sent the sample and the water bottle to the California Department of Justice Forensics Laboratory. The lab matched the DNA evidence from the bottle to Adams.

Trafficking of illegally harvested abalone on the black market continues to pose a significant enforcement problem and further exacerbates the pressure on the abalone population. Black market values will likely increase with the closure of the 2018 sport abalone season. Wildlife officers continue to conduct in-depth investigations and arrest those who continue to poach and commercialize abalone.

“It is immensely important for wildlife officers to work with District Attorneys who understand the importance of prosecuting poaching crimes against the dwindling abalone resource,” said CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of Law Enforcement David Bess. “The Mendocino County District Attorney’s office has an excellent track record in this regard.”

CDFW’s wildlife officers and biologists alike hope to see the return of a recreational abalone harvest as soon as the abalone population rebounds.

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Media Contact:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-6692