Tag Archives: California Fish and Game Commission

Three Prosecutors Awarded 2014 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year

Patrick McGrath, Yuba County DA. (Not pictured: Brad Enos, Yuba County DA, and Kevin Weichbrod, Santa Barbara DA.)
Patrick McGrath, Yuba County DA. (Not pictured: Brad Enos, Yuba County Deputy DA, and Kevin Weichbrod, Santa Barbara Deputy DA.)

The California Fish and Game Commission recently recognized three prosecutors for their exemplary dedication to the prosecution of wildlife crimes. District Attorney Patrick McGrath, Deputy District Attorney Brad Enos, both of Yuba County, and Deputy District Attorney Kevin Weichbrod of Santa Barbara Countywere selected from the ranks of California’s 58 counties to receive this notable distinction.

The 2014 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year Award was presented to these outstanding prosecutors amongst their peers at the California District Attorneys Association annual summer conference today in Napa.

“We do our best to thoughtfully craft regulations to protect California’s fish and wildlife resources and those who violate those regulations are destroying the natural resources that belong to all of us,” said Commission President Jack Baylis. “Successful prosecutions of poaching and pollution cases are directly dependent upon the working relationships between officers and the prosecutors. Thanks to these prosecutors, justice is served to those who violate the law.

The selection process was based upon recommendations from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division, who regularly work with the various District Attorneys’ offices.  All three prosecutors came highly recommended by the respective wildlife officers from their counties. These three prosecutors understand and appreciate natural resource violations. They have shown a willingness to pursue felony charges when appropriate for the most egregious violators. These prosecutors regularly took on time consuming, tough cases and have followed the cases to the full extent, up to and including jury trials. They regularly requested forfeiture of equipment involved in the commission of the poaching crimes, high fine amounts, and revocation of fishing and hunting privileges to help put poachers permanently out of business.

CDFW and the Fish and Game Commission recognize and appreciate the efforts of all 58 counties’ District Attorneys’ offices when it comes to protection of the environment, fish and wildlife. There are many prosecutors within those offices who take poaching crimes seriously. In 2014, McGrath, Enos and Weichbrod were particularly effective.

The Fish and Game Commissioners intend to formalize the process of selecting a Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year, making it an annual award. For more information about the Commission, please visit www.fgc.ca.gov/.

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Media Contacts:
Sonke Mastrup, California Fish and Game Commission, (916) 653-4899
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982

 

Emergency Fishery Closure Evaluation Process Adopted; Careful Angling Can Help Prevent Closures

The California Fish and Game Commission recently adopted emergency regulations that grant the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) authority to temporarily close fisheries experiencing degraded environmental conditions that may affect fish populations. CDFW’s temporary authority will commence upon approval of the regulations by the Office of Administrative Law and will remain in effect for 180 days.

As the effects of the current drought on California’s wildlife continue to mount, CDFW will be using a suite of criteria and associated triggers to guide fishing closure and reopening decisions. Criteria used in any evaluation include water temperature, dissolved oxygen levels, fish passage, water levels and fish population size. Although the Commission adopted the regulations, the department’s decision to close or open a fishery is discretionary and will be based on the most current information collected during site-specific monitoring efforts by professional staff. Priority will be given to listed fish species, species of special concern and game fish. Although some waters may exhibit conditions that meet the criteria and sets of triggers established by the Commission, CDFW will focus its discretionary authority for closing waters that provide coldwater refuge and essential habitat for species of greatest conservation need.

Prior to any closure, CDFW will solicit input from local stakeholders and provide information on the approach. CDFW will consider fishing closures as a last resort, and urges all those who fish California’s waters to adopt good preventative practices now.

“Anglers can help keep our wild trout thriving by using good judgment,” said CDFW Fisheries Branch Chief Stafford Lehr. “Fish earlier and stop earlier in the day during these hot summer days ahead.”

Aquatic wildlife is especially vulnerable as stream flows decrease and instream water temperatures increase. These conditions cause added stress and can affect growth and survival. In waters open to angling which may experience elevated daytime water temperatures (greater than 70 degrees Fahrenheit) the best opportunity for anglers to fish would be during the early morning hours after the warm water has cooled overnight and before the heat of the day increases water temperatures.

“Please pay attention to water conditions when you are fishing and when planning your fishing trips,” said CDFW Inland Fisheries Program Manager Roger Bloom. “Afternoon and evening water temperatures may be too warm to ensure fish being released will survive the added stress cause by warmer water that builds up during hot days in summer and fall.”

Many of California’s anglers have adopted catch-and-release fishing methods. Careful handling of a trout and proper catch-and-release techniques can ensure fish don’t experience serious exhaustion or injury.

However, catch-and-release fishing during afternoon and early evening in streams and lakes with elevated water temperatures may increase stress, hinder survival and increase mortality.

Proper catch-and-release fishing techniques include:

  •  Using a stream thermometer and check water temperatures often
  • Avoiding fishing during periods when water temperatures exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit (likely afternoon to late evening)
  • Using barbless hooks whenever possible
  • Playing hooked fish quickly and avoiding extensive handling
  • Using a landing net
  • Wetting your hands, your net and other materials that may come in contact with the fish
  • Not touching the gills
  • Keeping fish fully submerged and upright and allowing it to swim away under its own power

Anglers interested in pursuing California’s unique native trout should be especially careful this summer and fall when targeting high elevation streams. Many of the existing native cutthroat, redband and golden trout populations are relegated to small headwater streams which likely will experience low water levels and elevated temperatures.

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Media Contacts:
Roger Bloom, CDFW Inland Fisheries Program, (916) 445-3777

Clark Blanchard, CDFW Communications, (916) 651-7824

Fish and Game Commission Adopts Central Valley and Klamath River In-river Sport Fishing Regulations

The California Fish and Game Commission adopted changes to the Central Valley and Klamath River basin salmon sport fishing regulations for the 2015 season on Friday, April 17. The changes include fall-run Chinook quotas, bag and possession limits, and restrictions at the mouth of the Klamath River (spit area) and in the main stem Klamath River in the vicinity of Blue Creek. The only change to the Central Valley regulations is an increase in the possession limit from two to four salmon. All other Central Valley regulations remain unchanged from last year.

The Klamath basin sport fishing quota for adult fall-run Chinook salmon is 14,133 fish. This represents a 250 percent increase over last year’s salmon quota and allowed for an increase in daily bag limit. The daily bag limit for fall-run Chinook salmon is three fish, no more than two adults (greater than 22 inches) and the possession limit is nine fall-run Chinook salmon, no more than six adults. The 2015 sport fishing season for fall-run Chinook salmon will run from Aug. 15 through Dec. 31 on the Klamath River and Sept. 1 through Dec. 31 on the Trinity River.

The Commission adopted two new restrictions for Klamath anglers, one recommended by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) in regard to the spit area and one in the main stem Klamath near Blue Creek recommended by the Yurok Tribe. The new spit area restriction limits anglers to “catch and keep” for all legally caught Chinook salmon. Additionally, once anglers have retained two adult Chinook salmon greater than 22 inches or their total daily bag limit they must cease fishing in the spit area.

The Commission reviewed two key proposals for Blue Creek. CDFW’s, which requested a joint focused study to determine hook and release mortality in the Blue Creek area and the Yurok Tribe proposal to implement a conservation closure. The Commission selected the Yurok Tribe proposal to close all non-tribal sports fishing in the Blue Creek area from June 15 through Sept. 14 from ½ mile below to 500 feet above the confluence of Blue Creek and the Klamath River. From Sept. 15 through Dec. 31 the closure is 500 feet above and below Blue Creek. The Commission adopted the proposal as a conservation measure.

The Klamath fall-run Chinook quota is subdivided into sub quota areas within the basin.   The lower Klamath River (mouth to Weitchpec) will receive 50 percent (7,067 fish) of the quota, the upper Klamath River (upstream of Weitchpec) will receive 17 percent (2,403 fish) of the quota and the remaining 33 percent (4,663 fish) is allocated to the Trinity River, split between the lower (Trinity confluence to Cedar Flat) and upper Trinity (upstream of Cedar Flat). The mouth of the Klamath River (spit area) will receive an allocation of 2,120 adult fall-run Chinook which is inclusive of the lower Klamath River sub area quota.

Media Contact
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Fish and Game Commission Approves Emergency Fishing Closure on Part of Upper Sacramento River

Winter-run Chinook Salmon
Winter-run Chinook

Recommendations by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to provide dual areas of protection to Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon were approved by the state Fish and Game Commission on April 17.  An emergency regulation closing 5.5 miles of spawning habitat above the city of Redding on the Upper Sacramento River will go into effect on or about April 27. Enhanced protective measures were also included in the ocean sport and commercial fisheries regulations for the 2015 season.

“We are taking proactive measures on two fronts to protect these endangered fish both in the ocean and on their natal spawning habitat,” said CDFW Chief of Fisheries Stafford Lehr. “The fishing communities have stepped forward to support these measures and work towards long-term sustainability of the resource. None of us wanted to be in this situation, but heading into a fourth year of extreme drought calls for extreme measures.”

The emergency regulation closes all fishing on the 5.5 mile stretch of the Sacramento River from the Highway 44 Bridge where it crosses the Sacramento River upstream to Keswick Dam. The area is currently closed to salmon fishing but was open to trout fishing. The closure will protect critical spawning habitat and eliminate any incidental stress or hooking mortality of winter-run salmon by anglers.

The Commission also adopted ocean sport fishing regulations, which will mirror federal regulations approved earlier this week. CDFW, in consultation with representatives of California’s sport and commercial salmon fishing industries, recommended additional strategic protective measures for winter-run Chinook salmon to the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC). Following a two-month evaluation process, the PFMC recommended federal regulations that provide for sport and commercial seasons off California designed to target more abundant stocks, including Sacramento River fall-run Chinook salmon, while minimizing contact with winter-run Chinook.

“The CDFW proposal to reduce the allowable ocean harvest rate on winter-run salmon and change the timing and location of ocean fisheries south of San Francisco was accepted by the PFMC after in-depth analysis, review and discussion,” said Marci Yaremko, CDFW’s representative to the PFMC. “The Commission concurred with these recommendations, realizing their conservation benefit to all winter-run.”

It is highly unusual for a state to propose even stricter guidelines on a listed species than required by the federal Endangered Species Act. However, CDFW scientists believe the additional protection provided in the emergency river closure and additional ocean fishing restrictions will help a significant segment of the winter-run population to avoid losses.

“Given the gravity of the current situation, the Commission recognizes the need for highly protective measures,” said  Commission President Jack Baylis. “It is imperative that our fisheries are given the best protections.”

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Media Contact:
H
arry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478 or (208) 220-1169

Commission Meeting Location and Protocols for Emergency Winter-run Salmon Proposal

The public is invited to provide comment to the Fish and Game Commission on the proposed emergency regulation to close all fishing on the 5.5-mile stretch of the Sacramento River from the Highway 44 Bridge in Redding upstream to Keswick Dam to protect endangered winter-run Chinook salmon. The California Department Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently submitted the proposal to the commission.

The Fish and Game Commission is holding a teleconference meeting on April 17, 2015 at 10 a.m. to take action on the proposal. Members of the public may participate in the teleconference at several locations statewide. Locations and the proposal (item 2) are available on the agenda.

In Redding, the public is invited to participate at the following location:

California Department of Transportation
1st Floor Conference Room
1031 Butte Street
Redding, CA 96001

Members of the public will be able to voice comments on the proposed emergency temporary closure directly to the Fish and Game commissioners per established protocols and procedures. Submit written comments by one of the following methods: E-mail to fgc@fgc.ca.gov; fax to (916) 653-5040; delivery to Fish and Game Commission, 1416 Ninth Street, Room 1320, Sacramento, CA 95814; or hand-deliver to a Commission meeting. Comments received by noon on April 13 will be made available to Commissioners at the teleconference; written comments submitted by the public at the teleconference locations will not be seen by all commissioners. All materials provided to the Commission may be made available to the general public.

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Media Contacts:
Jason Roberts, Fishery Biologist, (530) 225-2131
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

CDFW To Hold Public Workshop on Lead Bullet Ban Implementation

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will hold a public workshop Saturday, July 19 to discuss the implementation of the lead bullet ban. The workshop will be held at the Community Room at City Hall, 777 Cypress Ave. in Redding from 7-8:30p.m.

A CDFW representative will detail a proposed implementation plan, the PowerPoint is available on the CDFW website. Following the short presentation, interested parties can make comments and provide input that will help shape CDFW’s final recommendation to the Fish and Game Commission, which CDFW anticipates presenting at the Commission’s meeting in Sacramento in September.

Last year, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 711 requiring that the Commission adopt a regulation to ban lead ammunition in the state no later than July 1, 2015, with full implementation of the ban to occur no later than July 1, 2019. Governor Brown has directed CDFW and the Commission to work with all interested parties in order to produce a regulation that is least disruptive to the hunting community.

In order to determine what is least disruptive to hunters, CDFW has been reaching out to interested parties this year in a number of ways, including question and answer sessions at sportsmen’s shows, meetings with hunting organizations and now a series of public workshops throughout the state. A public workshop was held in Ventura in April and in Eureka in June. After Redding, planning is underway for workshops later this year in Rancho Cordova (Sacramento area), San Diego, Fresno and Riverside/San Bernardino. In addition, individuals and organizations may email comments to wildlifemgmt@wildlife.ca.gov (please use “Nonlead implementation” in the subject line) or mail hard copy correspondence to:

CDFW, Wildlife Branch
Attn: Nonlead implementation
1812 9th Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944
Mishele Echelberger, CDFW Northern Region, (530) 225-2313

CDFW To Hold Public Workshop on Lead Bullet Ban Implementation

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will hold a public workshop to discuss the implementation of the lead bullet ban. The workshop will be held at 911 San Pedro Street in Ventura on Tuesday, April 15 from 7-8:30p.m.

A CDFW representative will detail a proposed plan for implementation, the PowerPoint for which can be viewed on the CDFW website. Following the short presentation, interested parties can make comments and provide input. That input may help shape CDFW’s final recommendation to the Fish and Game Commission, which CDFW anticipates presenting to the Commission at the Wildlife Resources Committee meeting in Sacramento in September.

Last year, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 711 requiring that a regulation to ban lead ammunition in the state be established by the Commission no later than July 1, 2015, with full implementation to be effective no later than July 1, 2019. Governor Brown has directed CDFW and the Commission to work with all interested parties in order to produce a regulation that is least disruptive.

In order to determine what is least disruptive to hunters, CDFW has been reaching out to interested parties this year in a number of ways, including question and answer sessions at sportsmen’s shows, internal meetings with hunting organizations and now a series of public workshops throughout the state. After Ventura, planning is underway for workshops later this year in Eureka, Sacramento and San Diego.

Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Department of Fish and Wildlife Releases White Shark Status Review under the California Endangered Species Act

Media Contacts:
Michelle Horeczko, CDFW Marine Region, (562) 342-7198
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has released a full status review of the Northeast Pacific population of white shark under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA).

The review document is available at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/news/pubnotice.

In completing the review, CDFW determined that the best scientific information available indicates the petitioned action is not warranted and recommends the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) not list the Northeast Pacific population of white shark as threatened or endangered under CESA.

At a future meeting, the Commission will make a final decision on whether or not to list the Northeast Pacific population of white shark as a threatened or endangered species under CESA.

Please check the Commission website at http://www.fgc.ca.gov for more information.

Recreational Ocean Salmon Season to Open South of Horse Mountain on April 5

Media Contacts:
Barry Miller, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2860
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478Marine sports salmon fishing

The California Fish and Game Commission and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announce the recreational salmon season will open in ocean waters on Saturday, April 5, 2014, from Horse Mountain (40° 05’ 00” N. latitude) south to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Federal fishery biologists estimate roughly 934,000 fall-run Chinook salmon will be in California coastal waters through the summer. Though lower than last year’s estimate, there are still plenty of fish to allow for significant angling opportunities for salmon enthusiasts in all areas off California.

The daily bag limit will remain at two Chinook salmon but the Commission recently took action to change the salmon possession limit. Two daily bag limits are now allowed in possession when on land; however, when on a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit.

The minimum size limit is 20 inches total length between Horse Mountain and Point Arena (38° 57’ 30” N. latitude). For areas south of Point Arena, the minimum size limit is 24 inches total length. For anglers fishing north of Point Conception (34° 27’ 00” N. latitude), no more than two single-point, single-shank barbless hooks shall be used and no more than one rod per angler when fishing for salmon or fishing from a boat with salmon on board. In addition, barbless circle hooks are required when fishing with bait by any means other than trolling. The retention of coho salmon is prohibited in all ocean fisheries. For complete ocean salmon regulations in effect during April, please visit CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/oceansalmon.asp or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429.

Final 2014 ocean salmon regulations will be decided next month by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) during their April 4-10 meeting in Vancouver, Wash. and by the Commission at their April 16-17 meeting in Ventura. Final sport regulations will be published in the CDFW 2014 Supplemental Fishing Regulations booklet available in May at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations.

Three alternatives are being considered for California’s recreational ocean salmon seasons that will begin on or after May 1. The public is encouraged to comment on any of the proposed alternatives, which can be found at the PFMC website at www.pcouncil.org.

Fish and Game Commission Acts to Protect Red Abalone on California’s North Coast

Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937
Public Contact:
Craig Shuman, Marine Regional Manager, (805) 568-1246

The California Fish and Game Commission yesterday took action to modify abalone fishery regulations along the northern California coast. Specifically, the Commission voted to reduce the annual limit to 18 abalone (previously 24), with no more than nine taken from Sonoma and Marin counties. Other changes to abalone regulations included a coast-wide start time for the fishing day of 8 a.m. and a closure at Ft. Ross in Sonoma County. The changes are expected to go into effect for the 2014 abalone season.

“The new management measures we’ve adopted today will help ensure that the red abalone remains abundant on the North Coast and the popular recreational fishery there continues to thrive,” said Commission President Michael Sutton. “Our job is to keep wildlife populations in California healthy and not wait for a crisis to take action.”

Northern California red abalone are managed adaptively by the Commission, using traditional management measures coupled with fishery independent surveys to maintain the catch at sustainable levels, as prescribed by the Abalone Recovery and Management Plan (ARMP). Ongoing data surveys by the Department of Fish and Wildlife detected the effects of a recent abalone die-off along the Sonoma coast. The declines in abalone density triggered the changes to management measures, because the densities dropped below levels that are prescribed in the ARMP for management action. The new regulations are intended to provide an opportunity for abalone populations in Sonoma and Marin to increase, and to help Mendocino County maintain a productive fishery. The set start time for the fishing day will also aid enforcement.