California Fish and Game Commission Holds June Meeting Remotely

At its June remote meeting, 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 this week’s meeting.

The Commission acknowledged the sesquicentennial of the beginnings of the Commission and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Staff had long been preparing celebratory activities throughout the year, but due to the global pandemic, those events were canceled. A video was shared at the Commission to honor the past 150 years of protecting and conserving fish and wildlife in the state.

After conversations with the petitioner and other stakeholders, the Commission continued to its August meeting the consideration and potential action on the petition to determine whether listing western Joshua tree under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) may be warranted.

The Commission and CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division David Bess announced Adam Kook as 2019 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year. Kook is a Deputy District Attorney in Fresno County District Attorney’s Office.

The Commission voted unanimously to notify the public of its intent to amend inland sport fishing regulations. The simplification of statewide inland fishing comes after immense effort by CDFW Fisheries Branch to clarify overlapping and often confusing regulations.

The Commission adopted commercial Pacific herring eggs on kelp regulations to implement the Pacific Herring Fishery Management Plan.

The Commission received CDFW’s evaluation of the petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network to list the Pacific leatherback sea turtle as endangered pursuant to CESA. The Commission will consider the petition, CDFW’s evaluation and public input at its August meeting to determine if it will accept the petition for consideration.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting budget gap in California, the Commission agreed that the remainder of this year’s meetings will be held via webinar and teleconference.

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

The full Commission agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at fgc.ca.gov. An archived audio file will be available in coming days. The next meeting of the full Commission is scheduled for Aug. 19-20, 2020.

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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.

After Coordination with Local Government, CDFW Lifts Fishing Delay in Alpine County

As requested by county officials, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham lifted the delay of the trout opener in Alpine County. Beginning May 15, trout season will be open in the county.

The trout season was originally scheduled to open in Alpine County on April 25, 2020. In April, CDFW had discussions with county leadership regarding trout fishing, which typically draws a high tourism influx to the area. Local officials were concerned about the transmission of COVID-19 and its potential to put a strain on their healthcare systems. Further, all non-essential businesses including lodging, dining and camping options were closed in compliance with state and local public health officers’ orders. Thus, CDFW, in consultation with Fish and Game Commission President Eric Sklar, delayed the opener through May 31, 2020.

However, in a letter last week, Alpine County officials requested that CDFW shorten the delay from May 31 to May 15, indicating that the county was doing a soft opening of restaurants and other facilities and wished for the delay to lift sooner.

This decision does not affect the trout season in any other county.

CDFW reminds anglers to abide by all state and local health guidelines regarding non-essential travel and physical distancing. Staying home in order to stay healthy is still the best way to keep yourself and others safe. Anglers are also advised to check with local authorities on the status of access points as many site closures and access restrictions exist and may change daily.

Pursuant to the emergency regulation approved by the Commission, CDFW will provide accurate information for the angling public at wildlife.ca.gov/regulations or by phone at (916) 445-7600.

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

CDFW Announces Publication of Rules for Ocean Salmon and Pacific Halibut

New annual federal regulations for ocean salmon and Pacific halibut fisheries for waters off California have taken effect. Federal regulations for Pacific halibut were published in 85 Federal Register 25317 on May 1, 2020 and were effective April 30, 2020, and ocean salmon regulations were published in 85 Federal Register 27317 on May 8, 2020 and were effective as of May 6, 2020.

Pursuant to California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.95, ocean salmon and Pacific halibut sport fishing regulations in state waters automatically conform to these new federal regulations.

Both the ocean salmon fishery and the Pacific halibut fishery opened on May 1. Anglers are reminded to abide by all state and local health guidelines regarding non-essential travel and physical distancing. Anglers are also advised to check with local authorities on the status of harbor and access points as site closures and access restrictions may change daily.

The 2020 recreational ocean salmon season dates for the California coast are as follows:

  • In the Klamath Management Zone, which is the area between the Oregon/California state line and Horse Mountain (40°05’00” N. latitude), the season will open June 6 and will continue through Aug. 9.
  • The Fort Bragg and San Francisco areas, which extend from Horse Mountain to Point Arena (38°57’30” N. latitude) and Point Arena to Pigeon Point (37°11’00” N. latitude), respectively, opened May 1 and will continue through Nov. 8.
  • The Monterey area between Pigeon Point and the U.S./Mexico border opened on May 1 and will continue through Oct. 4.

The minimum size limit is 20 inches total length in all areas north of Pigeon Point. In the Monterey area the minimum size limit is 24 inches total length. The daily bag limit is two Chinook salmon per day. No more than two daily bag limits may be possessed when on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit. Retention of coho salmon (also known as silver salmon) is prohibited in all ocean fisheries off California.

Next year’s April recreational ocean salmon season has also been determined at this time. In 2021, the recreational ocean salmon season will open April 3 south of Horse Mountain. The minimum size limit is 20 inches total length in the Fort Bragg management area and 24 inches total length south of Point Arena. The daily bag limit is two Chinook salmon per day. The remainder of the 2021 ocean salmon season will be decided in April of next year.

The 2020 Pacific halibut season is scheduled to be open statewide seven days per week from May 1 through Oct. 31, or until the quota has been met, whichever is earlier. There is no minimum size limit for this species. The daily bag and possession limit is one fish. Again this year, the public can follow the progress of catch through the season on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Pacific halibut web page; however, updates to catch information may be offered less frequently than in prior years.

Public notification of any in-season change is made through the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Ocean Salmon and Pacific Halibut Hotlines. Before engaging in any fishing activity for these species, please check one of the following resources for the most up-to-date information:

Ocean Salmon Resources:

Pacific Halibut Resources:

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Media Contacts:
Marci Yaremko, CDFW Marine Region, (858) 442-3004
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

May 1 Recreational Ocean Fishery Openings to Proceed as Planned, Anglers Reminded to Strictly Follow State and Local Health Guidelines

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announces the recreational ocean salmon, groundfish and Pacific halibut fisheries scheduled to open May 1 will proceed as planned.

However, anglers are reminded to abide by all state and local health guidelines regarding non-essential travel and physical distancing. Staying home in order to stay healthy is still the best way to keep yourself and others safe. Anglers are also advised to check with local authorities on the status of harbor services and access points as many site closures and access restrictions exist and may change daily.

The ocean salmon fishery will open May 1 in the Fort Bragg, San Francisco and Monterey areas [Horse Mountain (40°05’00” N. latitude) to the U.S./Mexico border], while the boat-based groundfish fishery in the Northern and Mendocino management areas [Oregon/California state line to Point Arena (38 °57.5” N. latitude)] will open as well. The groundfish fishery in other California management areas remains open. The Pacific halibut fishery also will open statewide on May 1.

Federal regulations establish recreational fishing seasons for California’s ocean salmon, groundfish and Pacific halibut fisheries, following recommendations made by the Pacific Fishery Management Council. The California Fish and Game Commission adopts regulations for state waters to match the federal season dates.

Please check the following resources for more information on these fisheries:

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

Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Responds to Request from Sierra County About Fishing

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham took two specific and limited steps today for fishing in Sierra County. As requested by county officials, CDFW suspended fishing on the mainstem of the North Fork Yuba River and delayed the trout opener on the entire Downie River mainstem in the county. Sierra County officials requested these actions last week along with requests from Alpine, Inyo and Mono counties; however; the tailored request required additional discussion with the county. The director made this decision in consultation with California Fish and Game Commission President Eric Sklar.

Fishing was already open on the mainstem of the North Fork Yuba River. Trout fishing was scheduled to open on the Downie River this Saturday, April 25. Trout is the only fishable species on the Downie River. The closure and delay in Sierra County will expire May 31, 2020.

Specifically, this means fishing is now suspended on the North Fork Yuba River from Yuba Pass downstream to the confluence with Goodyears Creek and the trout opener on the entire mainstem of the Downie River is delayed, both through May 31, 2020. Pursuant to the emergency regulation approved by the Commission, CDFW will provide current information for the angling public online or by phone at (916) 445-7600.

Today’s decision does not affect the trout season in any other county.

For information on the delay in Alpine, Inyo and Mono counties, please see this press release issued yesterday. A comprehensive summary and description of impacted regulations is available on CDFW’s website.

At the request of counties or tribes, CDFW will consider action to address needs regarding fishing seasons amongst the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are a county or tribal representative with questions or would like to provide input on potential angling related delays or restrictions, please contact Roger Bloom, Acting Branch Chief, Fisheries Branch, by email at Roger.Bloom@wildlife.ca.gov.

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