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.

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

California Fish and Game Commission Meets Remotely

On the second day of its April 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 today’s part of the meeting (see information from yesterday).

The Commission acknowledged robust public participation using remote technology.FGC Logo

“While we all are learning this remote world together, this meeting proved that government can continue with public input,” said Commission President Eric Sklar. “Governor Newsom recently said we expect a mid-May peak of COVID-19. I implore Californians to stay healthy and stay home to help save lives.”

The Commission approved the mammal hunting regulations and increased the number of elk tags in the northwest management unit. This increased hunting opportunity for the state’s hunting public, based on the best-available scientific data, is due to robust elk populations in this part of the state. The recovery of these elk is a great success story in California wildlife conservation.

The Commission approved the waterfowl daily and seasonal limits for ducks and geese for the 2020-21 hunting season. The northern pintail limit will remain at one pintail per day due to the current status of the population. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to improve the models to address the public’s concerns that pintail limits are too low.

The Commission adopted proposed regulations for public use on CDFW lands, including wildlife areas and ecological reserves. The regulations designate one new wildlife area and seven new ecological reserves, remove areas from the regulations where CDFW no longer has management authority, authorize site-specific public uses and make minor changes to clarify the regulations.

The Commission voted unanimously that listing of the Shasta snow-wreath may be warranted. This commences a one-year status review by CDFW.

The Commission voted unanimously that listing of an evolutionarily significant unit of mountain lions may be warranted. This commences a one-year status review by the CDFW.

Commission President Sklar, Commission Vice President Samantha Murray, and Commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin, Russell Burns and Peter Silva participated in the call.

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 a teleconference scheduled for May 14, 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.

California Fish and Game Commission Meets Remotely, Allows CDFW to Temporarily Delay, Restrict or Suspend Fisheries Where Needed to Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus

On the first day of its April remote meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission revised its agenda and took up the ability for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to temporarily delay, suspend or restrict recreational fishing if the director of CDFW, in consultation with the president of the Commission, finds that such action is necessary to protect against the threat from COVID-19 based on state, federal, local, and tribal public health guidance and public safety needs.

FGC_Logo_FBThe Commission voted unanimously to grant that ability, temporarily, in order to prevent and mitigate public health risks that may arise when people travel or congregate for fishing events. This is designed to be responsive to local county level and tribal needs, like the requests CDFW and the Commission received from Alpine, Inyo and Mono counties to delay the April 25 Eastern Sierra trout opener. The temporary authority expires May 31, 2020.

“I understand Californians desperately need the outdoors for solace, reinvigoration and spirituality, especially so right now,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “The proposal was never about a statewide permanent closure. It is about being responsive to local needs in this public health emergency, where we must do all we can as Californians to help each other make it through this together. We intend to use this authority surgically and based on local needs and knowledge.”

“Governor Newsom recently said we expect a mid-May peak of COVID-19 and we must prepare for that surge,” said Commission President Eric Sklar. “Today’s decision is a smart and responsible approach to be ready. It does not delay or restrict specific fisheries or waters, but rather prepares us to expeditiously do so if needed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

Commission President Sklar, Commission Vice President Samantha Murray, and Commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin, Russell Burns and Peter Silva participated in the call.

The Commission will continue its remote meeting tomorrow by phone. The remaining agenda can be found at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=177983&inline. More information can be found on the Commission website.

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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.

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

California Fish and Game Commission Emergency Meeting Will be Rescheduled for Next Week

Today’s emergency meeting of the Fish and Game Commission is being rescheduled. While the time and platform has yet to be determined, it will be delayed until next week.

Commission President Eric Sklar and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham made the following joint statement:Fish and Game Commission logo

“We are very appreciative of the passion we heard from those that were able to join this morning’s call. It is clear that the call volume was overwhelming and the technology wasn’t ready. We acknowledge that this is a challenge as we attempt to navigate new technology for meetings. We are frustrated by what happened today and are looking for a remedy now. We understand that many members of the public and media were unable to join the call and because we also understand the importance to many of you, we need to ensure that you have an opportunity to provide input.

“We want to make sure you know that we have received a great deal of input from counties and tribes, and we are grateful for that. You can always make comment for the record at fgc@fgc.ca.gov.

“We also want to make it crystal clear that today’s proposed decision was not about banning fishing statewide or locally. We are not contemplating statewide closure. The decision is to help prepare us to work with counties and tribes to make those decisions based on their requests. We are working on a tailored and surgical approach based on local needs and knowledge. We have already received some of these requests. Today’s proposed action was an effort to become more nimble and ready to react when asked by a local entity to act.”

When the meeting is rescheduled, it will be posted on the Commission’s website, sent out via listserv and advised to media.

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission was set to discuss whether or not to temporarily grant authority to CDFW to decide whether to delay, restrict, or suspend sport or recreational fishing in order to prevent and mitigate public health risks that may arise when people travel for fishing trips or congregate while participating in available fishing opportunities. CDFW and the Commission have received requests from county representatives and local health authorities requesting delays to sport or recreational fish openers such as the Eastern Sierra trout opener scheduled for April 25, 2020. Because of overwhelming call volume, the call will be rescheduled.

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