Category Archives: Regulations

Open Area of Commercial Rock Crab Fishery to be Extended to Salt Point, Sonoma County

Following the recommendation of state health agencies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today that it has extended the area open to commercial rock crab fishing from 38° 34′ N. Lat. (Salt Point, Sonoma County) south to the California/Mexico border.

At the recommendation of the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham submitted to the Office of Administrative Law an emergency rulemaking to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point, San Mateo County on Nov. 8, 2016. On Jan.1, 2017, new authority established in the Fish and Game Code, section 5523, allowed the Director to continue the closure. Opportunistic sampling of rock crabs and continued high domoic acid levels have prevented the reopening of fishing grounds north of Bodega Bay, Sonoma County since Feb. 2017. State and federal laws prohibit the commercial distribution of seafood products that contain domoic acid levels above the federal action level of 30 parts per million in the viscera. The recreational fishery for rock crab remains open statewide with a warning from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera of rock crab caught north of Salt Point, Sonoma County to the California/Oregon border.

Closure of the commercial rock crab fishery north of Salt Point, Sonoma County to the California/Oregon border shall remain in effect until the Director of OEHHA, in consultation with the Director of CDPH, determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommends the fishery be opened. CDFW will continue to coordinate with fishermen and CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in rock crab within the closure area of the coast. Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that 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 can in some cases be fatal.

For more information:

Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (1/16/2018)

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

www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab

###

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

Massive Poached Sacramento County Deer Leads to Trophy Penalty Enhancement

A Sacramento County man entered a no contest plea Tuesday to charges of poaching a huge blacktail deer in Sacramento County. John Frederick Kautz, 51, of Lodi, was charged with possession of an illegally poached deer and falsification of deer tag reporting information, both misdemeanors, following a three-month investigation.

Poached deer with trophy-sized antlers. December 2017.
Poached deer with trophy-sized antlers. December 2017.

Kautz illegally killed the trophy-sized buck on private property in Wilton in December 2016, two months after the deer season closed in the area. The deer had an antler spread of 31 inches with four antler points on one side and five on the other, which is an unusually large size for this part of California.

Kautz transported the illegally killed deer across state lines to Nevada to have the deer head mounted by a taxidermist. Kautz was also working through the process of scoring the trophy class buck to have it entered into the Safari Club International hunting record book. The deer’s trophy-sized antlers would have been surely accepted if the animal had been legally taken. However, the poaching conviction for the buck makes it ineligible for that recognition.

Working on a tip provided in September 2017, Wildlife Officers Sean Pirtle and Anthony Marrone spent an exhaustive three months on the investigation, collecting evidence that would prove the year-old incident was an act of poaching. Through extensive interviews, multiple search warrants and forensic analysis of computer records, and with the help of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) Computer Crimes Unit, they slowly pieced together the puzzle. Then, collaborating with Nevada game wardens who conducted multiple follow-up interviews outside of California, they worked together in an attempt to track down the actual deer that had been mounted by the Nevada taxidermist.

All California wildlife officers are federally deputized to investigate fish and wildlife crimes anywhere in the United States. The wildlife officers submitted the case to the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office for prosecution.

On Dec. 19, Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney David Brown announced a plea bargain resulting in a conviction of two poaching related misdemeanors. Kautz was sentenced to two days in county jail, placed on three years probation with a search and seizure clause, ordered to surrender the mounted deer head and was prohibited by the court from hunting or accompanying anyone else who is hunting during his probation. The fine was set at $5,000 pursuant to a new legislation and regulation package which took effect on July 1, 2017, increasing penalties associated with poaching “trophy class” or very large wild game animals.

The vast majority of hunters are ethical and abide by hunting laws and regulations, including the individual who provided this tip that helped lead to Kautz’s conviction.

“We would like to thank our wildlife law enforcement partners in Nevada and the CHP, and the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office for their assistance in this investigation and the subsequent prosecution, and the hunter who gave us the original tip,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Law Enforcement Division Chief.

“We are also pleased how the newly effective legislation and regulations package helped increase the penalties in this case to hopefully deter others from the same poaching behavior. A case like this is exactly why this package was enacted.”

###

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

Northern California Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Opener Pushed Back to Dec. 31

The director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has announced an additional 15-day delay for the upcoming commercial Dungeness crab season, based on the results of another round of pre-season quality testing conducted on Dec. 5. The tests continued to show that Dungeness crab are not yet ready for harvesting.

The delay affects 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 on 12:01 a.m. Dec. 31, 2017, to be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Dec. 28, 2017.

Crab quality tests are conducted regularly to ensure that crab are filled out enough prior to harvesting. Tests follow guidelines established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee, which is overseen by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Additional testing will be scheduled to occur by Dec. 22. If quality remains low, an additional delay until Jan. 15, 2018 will be issued by the director. This date is the latest the season can be delayed due to quality testing.

No vessel may take or land crab within Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 during the closure period.  In addition, any vessel that lands crab from ocean waters outside of Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 is prohibited from participating in the crab fishery in Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9, or any other delayed opening areas in Oregon or Washington, for 30 days following the opening of those areas as outline in California’s Fair Start Provision (Fish and Game Code, section 8279.1).

The director’s memo can be found here.

The updated Frequently Asked Questions for the current 2017-18 season addresses questions regarding the Fair Start provision.

For more information on health advisories related to fisheries, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories.

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

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

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.

###

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