Tag Archives: California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Emergency Crab Closure Recommended, Commission to Meet Thursday

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a health advisory warning individuals to avoid eating rock and Dungeness crab due to the detection of high levels of domoic acid. The advisory was followed by a recommendation from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) to the California Fish and Game Commission and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to delay the start of the Dungeness crab season and close the rock crab fishery. These actions would apply to each fishery from the Oregon border to the southern Santa Barbara County line.

The OEHHA recommendation has prompted an emergency meeting of the Commission, which will take place at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 5 (agenda and meeting information). At that time, the Commission will consider voting to delay the opening of the recreational Dungeness crab fishery. The recreational Dungeness crab season is currently scheduled to start Saturday, Nov. 7.

Also based on the recommendation from OEHHA, CDFW will act on its authority to delay the start of the commercial Dungeness crab season. The commercial Dungeness crab season is currently scheduled to start Sunday, Nov. 15 in most of the state.

Similar action will be considered by the Commission and CDFW to close the recreational and commercial rock crab fisheries in the affected area. Both recreational and commercial rock crab seasons are open all year.

“These are incredibly important fisheries to our coastal economies and fresh crab is highly anticipated and widely enjoyed this time of year. Of course, delaying or closing the season is disappointing,” said CDFW Marine Regional Manager Craig Shuman. “But public health and safety is our top priority.”

CDFW, along with the OEHHA and CDPH, has been actively testing crabs since early September. OEHHA announced today that consumption of Dungeness and rock crabs is likely to pose a significant human health risk as a result of high levels of domoic acid. CDFW will continue to coordinate with OEHHA and CDPH to test domoic acid levels in crab along the coast to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened.

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.

Domoic acid is produced from some species of the marine diatom Pseudo-nitzschia. Currently, a massive toxic bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia has developed, significantly impacting marine life along California’s coast. State scientists have been testing crab from eight fishing ports from Morro Bay to Crescent City, and have determined that the neurotoxin has spread throughout the fishery grounds.

Algal blooms are common, but this one is particularly large and persistent. Warmer ocean water temperatures associated with the El Niño event California is experiencing is likely a major contributing factor to the size and persistence of this bloom.

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

Wildlife Conservation Board Director Honored for His Work

John Donnelly, executive director of the California Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB), recently received the Rangeland Conservation Impact Award from the California Rangeland Trust. The WCB authorizes and allocates voter-approved funds for the purchase of land and waters suitable for recreation purposes and the preservation, protection and restoration of wildlife habitat.

“The California Rangeland Trust is proud to honor John Donnelly with our first Rangeland Conservation Impact Award,” said California Rangeland Trust CEO Nita Vail. “John works diligently on behalf of the state to successfully protect our rangeland, air and water quality, wildlife habitat and local food supplies through his leadership at the Wildlife Conservation Board.”

The Rangeland Conservation Impact Award is a new honor presented by the California Rangeland Trust, a nonprofit organization working to protect and enhance the environmental and economic benefits working landscapes provide. The award is given to conservation professionals that exemplify true dedication to advancing rangeland conservation and preserving the viability of California’s ranching industry and Western legacy, while protecting the valuable habitat and ecosystems provided by working ranches.

“Rangelands play a significant role in providing plants and animals refuge from urban development. Their importance in the mosaic of lands in California cannot be over stated,” Donnelly said. “It is an honor to receive this award from the California Rangeland Trust.”

Donnelly started work at the WCB in 1996 as a land agent. In 2003, he was promoted to assistant executive director and then became executive director in 2006. While at the WCB, he has overseen 530 projects that protect more than 466,000 acres of conservation easement and fee title lands, statewide, and restored and/or enhanced more than 92,000 acres of wildlife habitat.

Having grown up in Sierra Valley, which is predominantly a ranching and farming area, Donnelly worked on ranches before he began his wildlife career. He studied and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at California State University, Sacramento, then worked for the California Department of Fish and Game (now Wildlife) from 1988 to 1996.

John Donnelly was honored Sept. 26 at “A Western Affair,” the California Rangeland Trust’s annual family event in Woodside.

green and gray, grassy rangeland and tree-covered foothills
California rangeland in Sierra County. WCB photo

Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, Wildlife Conservation Board, (916) 445-0137
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

Public Comment Sought for Review of Newly Protected Tarplant

The Livermore tarplant (Deinandra bacigalupii), known to exist only at a few locations in Alameda County, has been designated a candidate species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) requests comments from the public for its review of the status of the Livermore tarplant.

Livermore tarplant is in the sunflower family and it has yellow flower heads that bloom in summer and early fall. Livermore tarplant also has sticky glands that give plants a strong odor. Only four populations of Livermore tarplant are known to exist, all in the eastern portion of Livermore Valley within the city of Livermore and unincorporated Alameda County. Livermore tarplant is found in alkaline meadows where salts form whitish or grayish crusts on the soil and few plants can grow.

The California Fish and Game Commission received a petition to list Livermore tarplant under CESA in August 2014. At a publicly noticed meeting on April 9, 2015 the commission considered the petition, a petition evaluation report prepared by CDFW and comments received by the public. The commission concluded the petition provided sufficient scientific information to indicate listing Livermore tarplant under CESA may be warranted, and therefore designated Livermore tarplant as a candidate species for listing. The petition to list Livermore tarplant and CDFW’s petition evaluation report can be found on the commission website at www.fgc.ca.gov/regulations/2014/index.aspx#lt.

CDFW is in the process of preparing a review of Livermore tarplant’s status as required by CESA. The review must be based upon the best scientific information available to CDFW, and must include a recommendation to the commission on whether or not listing Livermore tarplant is warranted. As such, CDFW invites anyone interested to submit data and comments during preparation of the status review to nativeplants@wildlife.ca.gov no later than December 31, 2015. After CDFW completes the status review, it will be posted on CDFW’s website for at least 30 days and sent to the commission.

The commission will decide whether or not to list Livermore tarplant as a threatened or endangered species at a public meeting after public comments are received.

The provisions of CESA apply to Livermore tarplant while it is a candidate species. CESA prohibits the import, export, take, possession, purchase or sale of listed and candidate species except in limited circumstances, such as through a permit issued by CDFW under the authority of the Fish and Game Code. CDFW may issue permits that allow the incidental take of listed and candidate species if the take is minimized and fully mitigated and the activity will not jeopardize the continued existence of the species. Information on CESA permitting for plants is available on the CDFW website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Plants/Permits.

Media Contacts:
Jeb Bjerke, CDFW Native Plant Program, (916) 651-6594
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

Feather River Hatchery Fish Ladder to Open Sept. 14

The fish ladder at Feather River Hatchery in Oroville will open Monday, Sept. 14, signaling the start of the spawning season on the Feather River. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) hatchery workers will open the gates in the ladder about 8 a.m. and will take more than 3 million spring-run eggs and 12 million fall-run eggs over the next two months in order to produce Chinook salmon for release next spring.

Visitors can observe the salmon through the viewing windows and from the observation deck located at the base of the fish barrier dam. At the main side of the hatchery, visitors can observe CDFW technicians performing the spawning process. Thousands of school children tour the Feather River Hatchery each year. For more information about spawning schedules and educational opportunities at the Feather River Hatchery, please call (530) 538-2222.  For information about hatchery tours, please call (530) 534-2306.

There are eight state-run salmon and steelhead hatcheries, all of which will participate in the salmon spawning effort. Those hatcheries, along with federally run hatcheries, will be responsible for the release of 40 million juvenile salmon into California waters. These massive spawning efforts were put in place over the last 50 years to offset fish losses caused by dams that block salmon from historic spawning habitat.

Once the young salmon reach 2 to 4 inches in length, 100 percent of the spring-run stock and 25 percent of the fall-run stock will be adipose fin clipped and implanted with coded wire tags prior to release. CDFW biologists use the information from the tags to chart the survival, catch and return rates of the fish.

For more information about California’s fish hatcheries, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/hatcheries.

Media Contacts:
Penny Crawshaw, Feather River Hatchery, (530) 538-2222
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 201-2958

Free Fishing Day is Saturday, Sept. 5

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites all Californians to celebrate the end of summer by going fishing. Sept. 5 is the second of two Free Fishing Days in 2015, when people can try their hand at fishing without having to buy a sport fishing license. Free Fishing Days are also a great opportunity for licensed anglers to introduce non-angling friends and children to fishing and the outdoors.

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All fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect. Every angler must have an appropriate report card if they are fishing for abalone, steelhead or sturgeon anywhere in the state, or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems.

CDFW offers two Free Fishing Days each year – usually around the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend – when it’s legal to fish without a sport fishing license. This year, the Free Fishing Days were set for the Saturdays near Independence Day and Labor Day (this year, July 4 and Sept. 5).

Free Fishing Days provide a low-cost way to give fishing a try. Some CDFW regions offer Fishing in the City, a program where children can learn to fish in major metropolitan areas. Fishing in the City and Free Fishing Day clinics are designed to educate novice anglers about fishing ethics, fish habits, effective methods for catching fish and fishing tackle. Anglers can even learn how to clean and prepare fish for eating.

Anglers should check the rules and regulations for the waters they plan to fish because wildlife officers will be on duty to enforce them. For more information on Free Fishing Days, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing/free-fishing-days.

Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944
Kyle Murphy, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 323-5556