Category Archives: Regulations

Changes to Recreational Groundfish Regulations Effective Oct. 16

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announces new restrictions on recreational fishing for groundfish in waters north of Point Conception to the Oregon/California border. Changes to authorized fishing depths described below take effect Monday, Oct. 16 at 12:01 a.m., and will remain in place through the remainder of 2017.

The recreational groundfish fishery depth restrictions will be as follows:

  • Northern Management Area (Oregon/California border to Cape Mendocino): Take is prohibited seaward of 20 fathoms (120 feet) in depth. The ‘all-depth’ groundfish fishery slated for November and December 2017 in this area is canceled.
  • Mendocino Management Area (Cape Mendocino to Point Arena): Take is prohibited seaward of 20 fathoms (120 feet) in depth. The ‘all-depth’ groundfish fishery slated for November and December 2017 in this area is canceled.
  • San Francisco Management Area (Point Arena to Pigeon Point): Take is prohibited seaward of the 30 fathom depth contour (180 feet).
  • Central Management Area (Pigeon Point to Point Conception): Take is prohibited seaward of the 40 fathom depth contour (240 feet).
  • Southern Management Area (Point Conception to the US/Mexico border): Take is prohibited seaward of the 60 fathom depth contour (360 feet). No changes are slated for this area.

The 20 fathom depth restriction is described by the general depth contour (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.20(a)). The 30, 40 and 60 fathom depth contours are defined by straight lines connecting the waypoints as adopted in federal regulations (Code of Federal Regulations Title 50, part 660, subpart G).

Based on recent bycatch estimates for yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) from the California sport fishery, CDFW projects that the harvest guideline specified in federal regulation for 2017 (3.9 metric tons) will be exceeded unless changes are made. Pursuant to CCR Title 14, section 27.20(e), CDFW has the authority to make modifications to the fishery to avoid exceeding the limit, and must issue notice of any changes at least 10 days in advance of the effective date.

Yelloweye rockfish are a long-lived, slow-growing shelf rockfish species that were declared overfished in 2002 and cannot be retained in the recreational fishery. 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 more than a decade.

Although fishing for rockfish and other groundfish will remain open through the end of the year, 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.

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:
Marci Yaremko, CDFW Marine Region, (858) 442-3004

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

New Regulations for Recreational Lobster Fishing Take Effect for 2017 Opener

As the popular recreational California Spiny Lobster fishing season prepares to open on Saturday, Sept. 30, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds divers and hoop netters of new regulations that will be in effect for the 2017-2018 season. The California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) adopted commercial and recreational lobster fishing regulations at its April 2016 meeting to support the implementation of the California Spiny Lobster Fishery Management Plan. A summary of the new recreational lobster fishing regulations is provided below. All other recreational lobster fishing regulations, unless listed below, remain unchanged and remain in effect:

The 2017-2018 recreational lobster fishing season will open at 6 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. The start time of the recreational lobster fishing season has changed from 12:01 a.m. to 6 a.m. for safety purposes. Open season: From 6 a.m. on the Saturday preceding the first Wednesday in October through the first Wednesday after March 15 (CCR Title 14, section 29.90 (a)).

Hoop net buoys south of Point Arguello (Santa Barbara County) must now be marked for identification and enforcement purposes. Hoop nets used south of Point Arguello shall be marked with a surface buoy. The surface buoy shall be legibly marked to identify the operator’s GO ID number as stated on the operator’s sport fishing license or lobster report card (shared hoop nets can be marked with multiple GO ID numbers, or GO ID numbers can be switched out by using any sort of removable tag on or attached to the buoy, so long as the GO ID numbers are all legible). Hoop nets deployed by persons on shore or manmade structures connected to the shore are not required to be marked with a surface buoy (CCR Title 14, section 29.80 (b)(3)). Hoop nets deployed from Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels must be marked with the boat’s Fish and Game Vessel ID number, and hoop nets provided by licensed guides to clients must be marked with the guide’s license number.

Divers may be in possession of spearfishing equipment while diving for crustaceans (including lobsters). Language on the possession of a hooked device while taking lobster has changed to provide clarification for both recreational divers and enforcement. Diving for crustaceans: In all ocean waters, except as provided in section 29.05, skin and SCUBA divers may take crustaceans by the use of the hands only. Divers may not possess any hooked device while diving or attempting to dive. Divers may be in possession of spearfishing equipment as long as possession of such equipment is otherwise lawful and is not being used to aid in the take of crustaceans (CCR Title 14, section 29.80 (g)).

Measuring requirements have been clarified in order to allow for measuring lobster aboard a boat. The change will allow hoop netters to bring spiny lobster aboard a vessel where they can be measured safely. All lobsters shall be measured immediately and any undersize lobster shall be released immediately into the water. Divers shall measure lobsters while in the water and shall not remove undersized lobsters from the water. Hoop netters may measure lobsters out of the water, but no undersize lobster may be placed in any type of receiver, kept on the person or retained in any person’s possession or under his or her direct control (CCR Title 14, section 29.90 (c)).

For additional information and a list of frequently asked questions about this program, please visit CDFW’s California Spiny Lobster webpage.

Media Contacts:
Tom Mason, CDFW Marine Region, (562) 417-2791
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 201-2958

Settlement Agreement Signed for Panoche Valley Solar Project

Agreement Resolves Long-Running Disputes, Advances Renewable Energy Goals, Creates Jobs, and Preserves more than 26,000 Acres for Endangered Wildlife

The Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society (collectively the “Environmental Groups”), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and Panoche Valley Solar LLC (a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison Development, Inc.), have entered into a settlement agreement concerning the size and location of a solar project currently under development in California’s Panoche Valley. The agreement will help advance renewable energy in the state, create local jobs, and protect the environment. Once final, the settlement will permanently conserve more than 26,000 acres for wildlife habitat.

Initially, 247 MW of solar generation was planned for development in the Panoche Valley, but now approximately 100 MW is instead proposed for development at a site in Imperial County, California. Development at the Imperial County site will have less impact on threatened and endangered species and their habitat. The relocation of that portion of the project is subject to approval by Southern California Edison (SCE) and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The settlement will also resolve several legal challenges commenced against the project by the Environmental Groups.

The Panoche Valley Solar Project was first proposed in 2009 and as planned would have directly impacted nearly 5,000 acres of high quality and uniquely important habitat. This settlement will reduce the size of the project in the Panoche Valley to slightly more than 1,300 acres and permanently conserve approximately 26,418 acres in and around the Panoche Valley.

The Environmental Groups assert that the Panoche Valley has the last intact, but unprotected, grasslands in the San Joaquin Valley and is home to many rare and endangered species including the giant kangaroo rat, the San Joaquin kit fox, and the blunt-nosed leopard lizard.

The valley is also designated an Important Bird Area of Global Significance by the National Audubon Society and Birdlife International because the grasslands provide essential habitat for myriad resident and migratory bird species. All of these species have been under threat from the expansion of housing developments, agriculture, oil and gas exploration, and drought.

Sarah Friedman, Sierra Club’s Senior Campaign Representative for the Beyond Coal Campaign, said:

 “As we work toward lowering carbon pollution, it’s critical that new clean energy development is not done at the expense of endangered animals and their habitat. The Panoche Valley is critical habitat for three highly endangered species, and the development throughout the valley as originally planned would have been devastating. This settlement agreement came about after years of work to preserve the endangered wildlife and delicate habitat in this valley.”

Kim Delfino, Defenders of Wildlife’s California Program Director, said:

 “The Panoche Valley is a globally important landscape and is the only remaining intact habitat for endangered upland San Joaquin Valley species like the giant kangaroo rat, San Joaquin kit fox and the blunt-nosed leopard lizard. The new agreement recognizes the significant conservation value of the Panoche Valley, reduces the size of the project in this unique valley and moves half of the project to a better site outside of the valley. When projects are planned ‘smart from the start’ it ensures that we will not sacrifice California’s natural heritage to meet our clean energy goals.”

Shani Kleinhaus, Environmental Advocate with the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, said:

“Birds and bird-enthusiasts should applaud this outcome. Our agreement helps achieve California’s goals of energy independence, and at the same time preserves critical grassland habitat that is home to 130 bird species, including species that are suffering steep population decline such as the burrowing owl, the mountain plover, and tricolored blackbirds.”

Charlton H. Bonham, Director of CDFW, said:

 “Con Edison Development’s leadership and the environmental groups deserve a lot of credit for opening a dialogue with the Department and asking whether it was better to negotiate and collaborate than litigate. Now these lands will be conserved in perpetuity for some of California’s rarest animals without a loss of one megawatt. This settlement shows that it is possible to balance the environment and the economy to achieve ambitious renewable energy goals.”

Mark Noyes, President and Chief Executive Officer of Panoche Valley Solar LLC, said:

 “This settlement with the CDFW and the Environmental Groups to lessen the impact of the PVS solar project on Panoche Valley is reflective of Con Edison Development’s corporate value of concern for the environment and commitment to continue the development of clean energy generation in a responsible manner. We will work diligently with the other parties to obtain the

remaining approval of SCE and the CPUC so that the conditions of the settlement can be fully implemented for the benefit of the Panoche Valley ecosystem and the citizens of California.”

Media Contacts:

  • Thomas Young, Deputy Press Secretary, Sierra Club, young@sierraclub.org, (719) 393-2354
  • Catalina Tresky, Communications Associate, Defenders of Wildlife, ctresky@defenders.org, (202) 772-0253
  • Shani Kleinhaus, Environmental Advocate, Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, Advocate@scvas.org, (650) 868-2114
  • Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937
  • Christine Nevin, Director, Business & Media Relations, Con Edison Clean Energy Businesses, nevinc@conedsolutions.com, (914) 286-7094

Sage-Grouse Hunting Suspended for 2017 Season

On June 21, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) voted unanimously to reduce sage-grouse hunting permits to zero for the 2017 season. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recommended this action to the Commission based on spring lek (breeding ground) surveys that showed significantly fewer sage-grouse in all four hunting zones.

Although managed hunting, in and of itself, is not considered a risk to the species, five years of drought conditions, the large-scale Rush Fire of 2012 and heavy storms in winter 2016-17 have all contributed to habit loss and degradation of the sagebrush ecosystem. Scientists found that sage-grouse population counts have decreased between 47 percent and 62 percent in the four hunt zones over the last five years.

CDFW bases its population estimates on extensive scientific data collected in the field. However, heavy winter snow hampered biologists’ access to sage-grouse leks this spring, and some sage-grouse that were present in the survey area may not have been accounted for in the survey. CDFW thus took a precautionary approach in making its recommendation to the Commission.

Sage-grouse populations fluctuate naturally based on weather and habitat conditions. By this fall, California’s sage-grouse population is projected to be 1,341 on the low end and 2,145 on the high end.

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies coordinates conservation efforts across the 11 western states and two Canadian provinces where sage-grouse live. Leaders from dozens of participating state and federal agencies meet quarterly to work toward achieving shared conservation goals.

In 2015, a proposal to list the sage-grouse under the federal Endangered Species Act was determined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be not warranted, following review of stakeholder-developed conservation plans and amendments to federal land use plans throughout the species range, including California.

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Media Contact:
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 591-0140

 

Sacramento River Between Keswick Dam and the Highway 44 Bridge Closed to Fishing

Regulations went into effect as of May 26, 2017 to close a 5.5 mile stretch of the Sacramento River to all fishing, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced. An emergency regulation had expired on Mar. 30, 2017, but was made permanent upon adoption of the Fish and Game Commission and filing with the Secretary of State.

The Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon population suffered an estimated 95 percent loss of juvenile natural production for the years 2014 and 2015 due to low reservoir storage and elevated water temperatures caused by the pervasive drought. Winter-run Chinook return to their natal rivers and streams every year to spawn.

“The prolonged drought that ended in 2017 has had a dramatic impact on winter-run, including the 2014 brood year, which will return as adults to spawn this year,” said CDFW Fisheries Branch Chief Kevin Shaffer. “It is vital to protect this year’s predicted small return of spawning adults and their young, and, over the next few years, to rebuild the stock and prevent extinction of winter-run Chinook.”

Maximizing adult spawning numbers is critical to the population. CDFW fisheries staff have evaluated recent winter-run Chinook spawning locations and have concluded that the majority of spawning occurs in the recently closed section above the Highway 44 bridge to Keswick Dam.

Although fishing for winter-run Chinook in this reach of the Sacramento River is not allowed under current regulations, incidental by-catch by anglers who are not targeting salmon has been documented and is significant, especially during low flow periods. Even if returned to the water, incidental by-catch stresses the fish, resulting in the potential loss of adults before spawning. A total fishing closure in the holding and spawning areas of winter-run Chinook is necessary to ensure this endangered fish population has the highest chance of survival.

As adopted by the Fish and Game Commission and in effect as of May 26, 2017:

Sacramento River below Keswick Dam, subsection 7.50(b)(156.5)

(B) From 650 feet below Keswick Dam to Deschutes Road bridge.

  1. From 650 feet below Keswick Dam to the Highway 44 bridge.

January 1 through March 31 with a bag limit of two hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead and four hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead in possession.

Closed to all fishing from April 1 to July 31.

Open from August 1 through December 31 with a bag limit of two hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead and four hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead in possession.

  1. From the Highway 44 bridge to the Deschutes Road bridge.

All year with a bag limit of two hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead and four hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead in possession.

Media Contacts:
Kevin Shaffer, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 327-8841
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 201-2958