California Fish and Game Commission Gives Final Approval for South Coast Marine Protected Areas

Adrianna Shea, Fish and Game Commission, (916) 508-5262
Jordan Traverso, DFG Communications, (916) 654-9937

The California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) adopted regulations to create a new suite of marine protected areas (MPAs) in Southern California. At a Commission meeting in Santa Barbara today, the regulations were adopted as part of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), which requires California to reexamine and redesign its system of MPAs with the goals to, among other things, increase the effectiveness of MPAs in protecting the state’s marine life and habitats, marine ecosystems and marine natural heritage.

Informed by recommendations generated through a two-year public planning process, the regulations will create 36 new MPAs encompassing approximately 187 square miles (8 percent) of state waters in the study region. Approximately 116 square miles (4.9 percent) have been designated as no-take state marine reserves (82.5 square miles/3.5 percent) and no-take state marine conservation areas (33.5 square miles/1.4 percent), with the remainder designated as state marine conservation areas with different take allowances and varying levels of protection. In addition to approving the MPA regulations, the Commission also certified the environmental impact report prepared pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act.

The public planning process for the south coast region, from Point Conception in Santa Barbara County to the California border with Mexico, began in July 2008 and included more than 50 days of meetings with formal public comment held for a 64-member Regional Stakeholder Group, a Science Advisory Team and a Blue Ribbon Task Force appointed by the Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency. In addition, greater than 12,000 written public comments were submitted through the regulatory and environmental review processes to help inform recommendations on south coast region MPAs.

The California Department of Fish and Game, the lead agency charged with managing the state’s marine resources, will be responsible for implementing the MLPA program which will include enforcement, education, monitoring and research activities. The south coast MPA regulations are anticipated to go into effect in mid 2011 after appropriate filings with the Office of Administrative Law and the Secretary of State.

The south coast study region is the third of five study regions to complete the planning process under the MLPA. Once implemented, the south coast MPAs will join the MPAs currently in place from the central and north central coast study regions to form a network ranging approximately 875 miles from the California border with Mexico to Alder Creek near Point Arena in Mendocino County. The Commission will receive recommendations for the north coast study region from the north coast blue ribbon task force in February which will mark the start of the formal regulatory process and planning is under way to develop the planning process for San Francisco Bay, the fifth and final study region.

The existing MPAs in the northern Channel Islands, which encompass an additional 168 square miles and 7 percent of state waters in the study region were not modified as part of this decision.

A map of the decisions made today can be viewed at

DFG Releases the 2010-2011 Proposal Solicitation Package for the CALFED Bay-Delta Ecosystem Restoration Program

Media Contacts:
Dave Zezulak, Ph. D., DFG Water Branch (916) 445-3960
Kyle Orr, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8958

Public Contact:
Terry Roscoe, DFG Water Branch, (916) 445-0604

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has announced the public release of the Ecological Restoration Program (ERP) 2010-2011 Proposal Solicitation Package (PSP). The ERP is requesting grant applications for habitat conservation, restoration and research to increase our scientific understanding of ecological processes and species responses to habitat restoration in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Suisun Marsh.

The grant application can be found on DFG’s Water Branch website at

Grant proposals should be sent to David S. Zezulak, Ph.D., DFG Water Branch Office, 830 S Street, Sacramento, CA, 95811, by close of business on March 1, 2011.

The ERP will be awarding up to $20 million in grant funding from Propositions 204, 13 and 84. DFG is the state implementing agency for the CALFED ERP and administers the program with its federal counterparts the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This proposal is focused on actions that will contribute to the conservation and restoration of the Delta ecosystem. Proposals should be responsive to the goals and objectives described in the ERP Stage 2 Conservation Strategy for the Delta and Suisun Marsh and the ERP Strategic Plan

The ERP is a comprehensive, transparent, science-based approach to restoring ecological functions and listed species of the Bay-Delta and its tributary watersheds. This solicitation will support the objectives of the Delta Reform Act of 2009 and other planning initiatives including the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and the Delta Stewardship Council Comprehensive Plan to restore the Delta ecosystem.

DFG will consider project applications previously submitted to the Delta Stewardship Council’s Science Program PSP for projects which would be consistent with and further the goals of this ERP PSP.

Commercial Market Squid Fishery to Close December 17

Dale Sweetnam, DFG Marine Region, (858) 546-7170
Marci Yaremko, DFG Marine Region, (858) 442-3004
Jordan Traverso, DFG Communications, (916) 654-9937

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) will close the commercial fishery for market squid, Loligo (Doryteuthis) opalescens, Friday, Dec. 17 at noon.

Based on landings information and projections, DFG biologists expect that by Dec. 17, the season’s harvest limit of 118,000 short tons of market squid will be reached. The squid fishing season runs from April through the following March of each year, meaning the fishery will remain closed through March 31, 2011. This is the first time that the harvest limit has been reached since it was implemented by the Fish and Game Commission in 2002.

“We have had a banner year for market squid this year” said Dale Sweetnam, a DFG senior marine biologist who oversees the commercial market squid fishery. “In California, we have had squid landings from La Jolla to Half Moon Bay and reports that market squid are abundant off many of the offshore banks, the Channel Islands, as well as off Baja California. The colder than normal water conditions we have observed since February have provided optimal conditions for squid spawning.”

The presence of market squid is strongly correlated with environmental factors, such as water temperature and nutrient availability. In warm water years and during El Niño conditions, squid become scarce and landings decline. However, when water temperatures cool, even after severe warm water events, market squid numbers can rebound quickly and dramatically.

DFG, with assistance from squid fishermen and seafood processors, has been tracking catches daily this fall in anticipation of reaching the harvest limit, which was established to ensure the squid fishery does not expand beyond levels experienced in the 1990s. “The wetfish industry and California Wetfish Producers Association are very pleased to partner with DFG to ensure a sustainable market squid resource and fishery,” said California Wetfish Producers Association Executive Director Diane Pleschner-Steele.

Market squid is by far California’s largest and most valuable commercial fishery. In 2009, just over 100,000 tons was landed with an ex-vessel value of $56.5 million. California market squid is used domestically for food – often identified as “calamari” in restaurants – and is an important international commodity. Last year, California fish businesses exported market squid to 36 countries with China being the leading importer of California market squid.

The harvest limit is one of many provisions governing the squid fishery, which has been managed under the state’s Market Squid Fishery Management Plan (MSFMP) since 2005. The goals of the MSFMP are to ensure long term conservation and sustainability of the market squid resource, reduce the potential for overfishing and provide a framework for management. In addition to the harvest limit, weekend closures were implemented to allow for periods of uninterrupted spawning each week.

The MSFMP was developed under the provisions set forth by California’s Marine Life Management Act (MLMA), which became law in 1999. The MLMA created state policies, goals and objectives to govern the conservation, sustainable use and restoration of California’s living marine resources such as squid.

New 2011-2012 Groundfish Regulations Delayed

Media Contacts:
Deb Wilson-Vandenberg, DFG Marine Region, (831) 649-2892
Jayna Schaaf-Da Silva, Marine Region, (831) 649-7196
Jordan Traverso, DFG Communications, (916) 654-9937

The California groundfish regulations for 2011-12 recently adopted by the Fish and Game Commission will not be ready for implementation on Jan. 1, 2011 as planned. These regulations conform to federal regulations adopted by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC). However, due to procedural difficulties encountered with the federal rule making process, the 2010 regulations will remain in place until further notice.

“We are working closely with our federal fishery management partners to establish an implementation date,” said Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Marine Region Manager Marija Vojkovich. “We will announce the effective date for the new regulations as soon as it has been established. Until then, we ask that fishermen continue to follow the 2010 rules.”

The new California regulations were developed in collaboration with fishery constituents, other Pacific states, PFMC and the National Marine Fisheries Service over the past 18 months.

Anglers are advised to check regulations before targeting federally managed groundfish, as the proposed 2011-12 changes included modifications to fishing seasons, harvest limits, bag limits and species compositions, trip limits, fishing depths and gear constraints for rockfish, lingcod, cabezon, greenlings, California scorpionfish (sculpin) and other species.

The 2010 recreational and commercial groundfish regulations are available at the DFG website at or recreational anglers can call the Recreational Groundfish Hotline at (831) 649-2801. The delay mainly affects the recreational groundfish fishery.

The public can still comment on the proposed federal groundfish regulation changes on or before Jan. 4, 2011. Instructions for submitting public comments can be found at (this page may be slow to load). The proposed recreational changes can be found on pages 67894 through 67896.

Game Warden Receives Governor’s Medal of Valor

Media Contacts:
Patrick Foy, DFG Law Enforcement Division, (916) 508-7095
Dana Michaels, Office of Communications, (916) 322-2420

California Department of Fish and Game Warden Jorge Paz was awarded the state’s highest honor for heroism, Tuesday. His story is just one of many that illustrate how DFG wardens risk their lives for the benefit of others, every day.

“The Department of Fish and Game is extremely proud of Warden Paz,” said Chief Foley, “and all of our game wardens. They work harder than most people realize, and put their lives on the line each day for Californians and our natural resources.”

Fish and Game Warden Jorge Paz was awarded Governor Schwarzenegger’s Medal of Valor Tuesday for demonstrating an extraordinary act of bravery and heroism to save the life of another.

On October 17, 2009 Warden Jorge Paz was traveling eastbound on Highway 154 at the Cold Springs Bridge, Santa Barbara County, when he observed a man walking westbound on the southern side of the bridge. The man was walking at a slow pace, standing every few steps, and looking down below the bridge. Warden Paz pulled off the highway, found the man’s abandoned vehicle, and obtained identifying information from the license plate. He approached the man and called to him by name. The man responded by telling him that he was going to jump off the bridge.

Warden Paz immediately noticed the man’s size – six feet, four inches and approximately 200 pounds – compared to his own five foot, seven inch, 160-pound. frame. Because of the man’s size and the fact that Paz was by himself, he first attempted to calm the man by talking to him about his issues. The man had stated that he was wanted for murder in another state and that he wanted to end his life. The claim was later deemed unfounded. The man kept his hand near the guard rail and kept looking down to avoid eye contact. After about five minutes, CHP Officer Whitney Taylor arrived to assist.

Repeatedly, Warden Paz tried to talk the man out of suicide so he could handle his problems through counseling. When he was convinced the man would not comply, he made the decision to act. Paz gave Officer Taylor a three count behind his back. He charged the man. A struggle ensued. The man fought back and strained for the railing. With extreme difficulty, Warden Paz and Officer Taylor successfully subdued him and restrained him with handcuffs. Warden Paz and Officer Taylor’s actions likely prevented the man plunging off the bridge to his death.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife News