Category Archives: Regulations

California Fish and Game Commission Meets in Fresno

At its October 2018 meeting in Fresno yesterday, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from the meeting.

The Commission voted unanimously to adopt the vision statement for co-management among the Commission, California tribes and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). The vision statement was a recommendation forwarded to the Commission from the Tribal Committee, which met Tuesday.

In partnership with the California Waterfowl Association, the Commission also recognized six newly inducted members of the California Waterfowler’s Hall of Fame: Dr. Mickey E. Heitmeyer, Jeff Kerry, Peter Ottesen, Thomas Quinn, Mark Gregory Steidlmayer and Peter Stent. Former executive director of the Commission, John Carlson, Jr. who is currently the president of the California Waterfowl Association, made the presentation.

The Commission approved a 90-day extension of the emergency regulations for recreational take of purple sea urchin that increased the bag limit from 35 individuals to 20 gallons in Sonoma and Mendocino counties.

The Commission also authorized publication of a notice of intent to amend regulations for recreational take of purple sea urchin under a regular rulemaking, to increase bag limits to 40 gallons in Sonoma and Mendocino counties, and also to potentially apply these regulations in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. The Commission will take action on this proposal at its February meeting in Sacramento.

The Commission took action to adopt regulations to limit incidental take of crabs other than the genus cancer. The action will subject box and king crabs to a 25 lb. possession and landing limit, and sheep crab to a 95,000 lb. annual total allowable catch.

In support of a collaboration among CDFW, the California Ocean Protection Council, and academic partners, the Commission adopted a marine protected area monitoring action plan that, for the first time, provides a statewide approach to monitoring California’s marine protected area network. The action plan incorporates novel scientific approaches and offers important prioritization of long-term monitoring and evaluation metrics.

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

The full Commission video and audio minutes, supporting information and a schedule of upcoming meetings are available at www.fgc.ca.gov. An archived video will also be available in coming days.

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.

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

Commercial Spiny Lobster Fishery Closed in State Waters Around Anacapa Island Due to Public Health Hazard

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham has enacted a commercial spiny lobster fishery closure effective immediately.

State health agencies determined that spiny lobster near Anacapa Island in Ventura County had unhealthy levels of domoic acid and recommended closure of the commercial fishery in the area. The recreational fishery for spiny lobster remains open statewide with a warning from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera (tomalley) and roe of spiny lobster.

The commercial closure includes state waters around Santa Cruz and Anacapa islands east of 119°30.000’W. longitude, and west of 119°10.000’W. longitude. State waters extend three nautical miles beyond outermost islands, reefs and rocks. Commercial take and/or possession of spiny lobster is prohibited in closed waters.

This closure shall remain in effect until the Director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), in consultation with the State Public Health Officer at CDPH, determines that domoic acid no longer poses a significant risk to public health and recommends lifting the fishery closure. CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in spiny lobster to determine when the commercial spiny lobster fishery in this area can safely be opened.

Pursuant to Fish and Game Code, section 5523, the Director of CDFW will notify the Fish and Game Commission of the closure and request that the Commission schedule a public discussion of the closure at its next scheduled meeting.

Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin produced by a naturally occurring marine alga, whose levels can be increased under certain ocean conditions. State and federal laws prohibit the commercial distribution of seafood products that contain domoic acid levels above the federal action level, which is 20 parts per million in the viscera of spiny lobster.

For more information:

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

Ivory Sales Lead to Court Conviction in Los Angeles County

A Los Angeles County jury has convicted Anthony Buccola, 51, of Newport Beach, and his business, Antonio’s Bella Casa, on misdemeanor charges of selling narwhal tusks. Buccola and his business were found guilty on Aug. 1 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Buccola was sentenced to 36 months probation with search terms, 200 hours of community service or 20 days in jail, $5,000 fine plus penalty assessment and forfeiture of the narwhal tusks. Antonio Bella Casa, Inc, was sentenced to 36 months probation with search terms, a fine of $5,000 plus penalty assessment and forfeiture of the narwhal tusk. The penalty was set pursuant to Fish and Game Code, section 2022, which took effect on July 1, 2016.

The investigation began in December 2016, when wildlife officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division Trafficking Unit saw two narwhal tusks displayed at the retail antique store. The tusks were 79 and 87 inches long. An officer visited Antonio’s Bella Casa and an employee offered to sell the narwhal tusks for $35,000 each. He ultimately agreed to sell the tusks to an undercover officer for $30,000 each.

The tusks were seized as evidence and the CDFW Wildlife Forensics Lab conducted additional analysis. Wildlife forensics specialists confirmed the tusks were from narwhal.

“We would like to thank the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and specifically their Environmental Justice Unit for their assistance in this investigation and the subsequent prosecution,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Law Enforcement Division Chief. “The penalties assessed by this court should deter further acts of ivory trafficking and prove California’s commitment to halting the demand for ivory which contributes to poaching of narwhal in their native range.”

“Selling ivory is not only illegal, it’s immoral,” said Mike Feuer, Los Angeles City Attorney. “The ivory trade is abominable, with devastating consequences that imperil threatened species like the narwhal. This prosecution and conviction sends the strong message that those who may think of selling ivory tusks will be held accountable. I also want to thank our partners at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for their close partnership on this important issue.”

Assembly Bill 96, authored in 2015 by then Assembly Speaker and current Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), made it unlawful to purchase, sell, offer for sale, possess with intent to sell or import with intent to sell ivory or rhinoceros horn, except as specified. AB 96 defines ivory as the tooth or tusk from a species of elephant, hippopotamus, mammoth, mastodon, walrus, warthog, whale or narwhal, or a piece thereof, whether raw ivory or worked ivory, and includes a product containing, or advertised as containing, ivory. A first-time violation of this law is a misdemeanor subject to specified criminal penalties and fines between $1,000 and $40,000, depending upon the value of the item.

Media Contacts:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-6692
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

Upper Klamath River Quota Met

Based upon California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) projections of the recreational fall Chinook salmon catch on the Klamath River, anglers will meet the Upper Klamath River adult fall Chinook Salmon quota below Iron Gate Dam for the 2018 season as of 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Oct.14.

This triggers the closure of the adult Chinook Salmon fishery on the main stem of the Klamath River from 3,500 feet downstream of the Iron Gate Dam to the Highway 96 bridge at Weitchpec. The fishery at the mouth of the Klamath was closed as of Sept. 4, and will remain closed to all fishing for the rest of the calendar year, and the fishery on the lower Klamath closed as of Sept. 13. All reaches on the main stem Klamath (except the within 100 yards of the mouth) remain open for harvest of jack (two-year-old) Chinook Salmon (22 inches or less). All adult Chinook Salmon caught must be immediately released and reported on the angler’s report card.

Anglers may still fish for adult Chinook Salmon in the Upper and Lower Trinity River sub-quota areas.

Anglers may monitor the quota status of open and closed sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers by calling the information hotline at (800) 564-6479.

For more information regarding Klamath River fishing regulations, please consult the 2018-2019 California Freshwater and Supplemental sport fishing regulations at wildlife.ca.gov/regulations.

Media Contacts:
Dan Troxel, CDFW Klamath River Project, (707) 822-0330
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

Opening Weekend of Lobster Season Keeps Southern California Wildlife Officers Busy

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Wildlife officers from across Southern California participated in an enhanced patrol for opening weekend of the 2018 lobster season, which began on Sept. 29. The goal was to facilitate a safe and enjoyable start to lobster season and enforce the laws so future generations can also enjoy the sport.

Wildlife officers from inland regions of Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties converged on the coast to pool resources and enhance coverage. Both shore-based patrols and boat patrols were utilized. In total, officers made 2,088 contacts with lobster fishers, gave 165 warnings and issued 106 citations. Citations included overlimit of lobster and other fish, take of undersized lobster and other fish, unlawful take from Marine Protected Areas, lobster report card violations, an unlawful Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel operation and even a DUI.

One particularly notable case was in San Diego, where wildlife officers on boat patrol pulled up on a vessel with two persons on board. Upon approach, the men started throwing lobsters overboard. The officers quickly boarded the vessel and located 26 lobsters hidden throughout. The men were cited for an overlimit of lobster and report card violations. Another significant bust and citation occurred farther north in Orange County, where two wildlife officers made one case involving 27 lobsters taken the night prior to the opener (thus out of season).

During a large opener like this, the vast majority of individuals contacted by officers are law-abiding fishers and divers who cooperate with law enforcement and are even eager to show off their hard-earned catch. For example, in Dana Point Harbor in Orange County, Warden Andreas Gilbert contacted a group of four lobster free-divers (a free-diver is a diver who holds their breath, dives to the bottom for lobster, sometimes in the dark with a flashlight in one hand, and grabs the lobster with the other). The four were in possession of several legal lobsters and were extremely cooperative with Gilbert. After the contact, they asked to pose for a photo with Gilbert, who happily obliged.

CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division reminds lobster fishers to keep their activities safe. SCUBA divers should make sure their gear is in order and they are healthy and strong enough to safely dive. Most dive shops offer refresher courses for SCUBA-certified divers who may be rusty. At minimum, divers should try on all their gear ahead of time and hop in a pool. And always dive with a buddy – never alone.

Officers are always on patrol, and this year they are keeping a particularly close eye out for incidents of poaching from commercial traps. The State of California has partnered with commercial lobster fishers on permitting and scientific data collection for decades, and strictly regulates commercial lobster fishing in large part to support and protect the resource and industry. Stealing from commercial traps is a serious crime – in addition to being illegal, the behavior is unethical and unsportsmanlike, and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. In July, a San Diego area poacher previously convicted of stealing lobsters from traps was convicted and sentenced to 45 days in jail, was fined $1,000 and all gear seized during the investigation was forfeited by the court. He was also placed on three years probation, during which time he must stay away from the South La Jolla State Marine Reserve.

Please visit CDFW’s lobster information webpage to review helpful information and links to current regulations.

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Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 322-8911
Lt. Scott Bringman, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (619) 562-2456