California Fish and Game Commission Meets

At its December 9-10 meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission acted on several issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from this week’s meeting.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) presented its annual report on the progress of its statewide Marine Protected Areas Program. The report highlighted research and monitoring efforts, outreach and education, enforcement and compliance statistics, policy, permitting and Tribal engagement.

Fish and Game Commission logo

The Commission voted to extend the recreational red abalone fishery closure sunset date by an additional five years to April 1, 2026.

The Commission adopted new regulations for the recreational crab fishery intended to provide additional whale and turtle protections. These changes will take effect at the start of next season scheduled for November 2021.

The Commission also adopted new regulations regarding recreational take of sea urchins in Caspar Cove and Tanker Reef to evaluate mechanisms to promote kelp recovery.

The Commission authorized staff to publish a notice of intent to amend regulations for Klamath River Basin sport fishing, Central Valley sport fishing, waterfowl hunting, and deer and antelope hunting tags. As part of the mammal hunting notice, the Commission also authorized the inclusion of a temporary regulation that would allow hunters to receive a refund and restore preference points if they were unable to fill their tags for specific elk, pronghorn antelope, and bighorn sheep hunts during the September 2020 statewide forest and public land closures due to fires.

At its September 2020 meeting, the Commission determined that listing western Joshua tree as threatened or endangered under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) may be warranted, making it protected under CESA as a candidate species. On Dec. 10, the Commission unanimously adopted regulations to authorize conditional take of western Joshua tree during its candidacy for CDFW, the town of Yucca Valley, the City of Palmdale and San Bernardino County. The decision will authorize take of western Joshua tree under strict criteria related to hazard trees, public works projects, and single family residences and accessory structures. This emergency rulemaking is conditioned upon mitigation measures and a limited total number of trees that can be taken, and is a result of discussions and consultation between CDFW, the local governments and the Center for Biological Diversity.

The full commission – President Eric Sklar, Vice President Samantha Murray and commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Peter Silva – was present on Wednesday, Dec. 9. On Thursday, Dec. 10, Vice President Samantha Murray and commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Peter Silva were present, and President Sklar was absent. There is one vacant seat on the commission.

As a reminder, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting budget gap in California, Commission meetings through June 2021 will be held via webinar and teleconference.

The agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at www.fgc.ca.gov/meetings. An archived audio file will be available in coming days. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the full Commission is scheduled for February 10-11, 2021. In addition, the Commission has scheduled a meeting for January 12, 2021 to hear only two agenda items.

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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 Holds Meeting on Western Joshua Tree

The California Fish and Game Commission held a meeting today to address issues related to the listing of the western Joshua tree as threatened or endangered under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA).

fish and game commission logo

In a unanimous 4-0 vote, the Commission determined that listing western Joshua tree as threatened or endangered under CESA may be warranted. This commences a one-year status review of the species and the Commission will make a final decision at a future meeting. During the status review, the western Joshua tree is protected under CESA as a candidate species.

Additionally, in a 3-1 vote (Commission Vice President Samantha Murray was the dissenting vote), the Commission adopted regulations to authorize conditional take of western Joshua tree during its candidacy for 15 solar energy projects expected to break ground within the year. This emergency rulemaking is a result of discussion and consultation between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, renewable energy developers, local governments and the petitioner, the Center for Biological Diversity.

Climate change impacts pose a clear threat to public health in California and are proving to be a primary threat to the survivability of western Joshua tree. This emergency rulemaking exemplifies California’s innate ability to lead the country in fighting climate change by advancing solar projects to help keep the state on track to meet its renewable energy goals, all while protecting biodiversity.

As a reminder, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Commission meetings through June 2021 will be held via webinar and teleconference.

Commission President Eric Sklar, Vice President Samantha Murray and Commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Peter Silva were present. Commissioner Russell Burns, who had already recused himself of the western Joshua tree decision at the August meeting, was absent.

The agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at fgc.ca.gov. An archived video recording will be available in coming days. The next meeting of the full Commission is scheduled for Oct. 14, 2020.

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

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

fish and game commission logoAt its August 19-20 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 began a rulemaking process to extend the sunset date on the current recreational red abalone closure.

The Commission voted unanimously to notify the public of its intent to amend recreational take of crab regulations to provide additional whale and turtle protections in the trap fishery.

The Commission began a rulemaking process to amend regulations to allow, for a period of three years, both the unlimited recreational take of purple urchins at Caspar Cove in Mendocino County, and the unlimited recreational take of red and purple urchins at Tanker Reef in Monterey County.

The Commission determined that listing Pacific leatherback sea turtle as threatened or endangered under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) may be warranted. This commences a one-year status review of the species and the Commission will make a final decision at a future meeting. During the status review, the Pacific leatherback sea turtle is protected under CESA as a candidate species.

After presentations from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the petitioner, and comments from stakeholders and the public, the Commission continued to a future meeting the consideration and potential action on the petition to determine whether listing western Joshua tree under CESA may be warranted. While Commission members expressed support for moving forward with the listing process, the decision was continued to next month to allow time to develop options that could keep critical projects moving forward if the tree becomes a candidate species. Commissioner Russell Burns recused himself from this decision. The future meeting to consider whether listing is warranted will be announced through the Commission’s electronic mailing list.

As a reminder, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting budget gap in California, Commission meetings through June 2021 will be held via webinar and teleconference.

The full commission – President Eric Sklar, Vice President Samantha Murray and Commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin, Russell Burns and Peter Silva – was present.

The agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at fgc.ca.gov. An archived audio file will be available in coming days. With the exception of the special meeting that will be scheduled in September (see western Joshua tree information above), the next meeting of the full Commission is scheduled for October 14-15, 2020.

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

May 2020 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Calendar

All calendar items are subject to change as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

1 — Recreational Groundfish Season Opens for All Boat-based Anglers for the Northern and Mendocino Management Areas (Oregon-California State Line to Point Arena). Anglers are reminded to abide by all state and local health guidelines regarding non-essential travel and physical distancing. Staying home in order to stay healthy is still the best way to keep yourself and others safe. Anglers are also advised to check with local authorities on the status of harbor services and access points as many site closures and access restrictions exist and may change daily. For more information, please visit the Groundfish webpage at wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/groundfish.

1 — Recreational Pacific Halibut Fishery Opens. The fishery will be open May 1 to Oct. 31 or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. Anglers are reminded to abide by all state and local health guidelines regarding non-essential travel and physical distancing. Staying home in order to stay healthy is still the best way to keep yourself and others safe. Anglers are also advised to check with local authorities on the status of harbor services and access points as many site closures and access restrictions exist and may change daily. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut.

1  Recreational Ocean Salmon Season Opens from Horse Mountain to U.S./Mexico border. Anglers are reminded to abide by all state and local health guidelines regarding non-essential travel and physical distancing. Staying home in order to stay healthy is still the best way to keep yourself and others safe. Anglers are also advised to check with local authorities on the status of harbor services and access points as many site closures and access restrictions exist and may change daily. For more information, please visit the Ocean Salmon web page at wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon or call either the CDFW Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429 or the National Marine Fisheries Service Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (800) 662-9825.

1 — Deadline for California Invasive Species Action Week’s Youth Art Contest. Youths in grades 2 to 12 can submit entries for the California Invasive Species Action Week’s Youth Art Contest. This year’s theme is “Be a Habitat Hero.” Create an original piece showing the actions a “Habitat Hero” can take to protect your community by stopping the spread of invasive species. Examples include: a poster encouraging pet owners not to release pets; a public service announcement on a particular species; a video or brochure with instructions for cleaning your boats, boots or gear. Be creative! All types of media are welcome and encouraged: drawings, paintings, animations, comic strips, videos, public service announcements or campaign posters. Entries must include a completed entry form and be received by May 1. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/cisaw.

4 — Archery Only Spring Wild Turkey and Additional Junior Spring Turkey Seasons Open (extending through May 17). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

4 — California Wildlife Conservation Board, Wildlife Corridor and Fish Passage, Proposal Solicitation Notice (PSN) Opens. PSN priorities include projects to construct, repair, modify, or remove transportation infrastructure or water resources infrastructure to improve passage for wildlife or fish. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov/programs/habitat-enhancement.

7 — California Wildlife Conservation Board Final Agenda for May 20 Board Meeting Released.

7 — California Wildlife Conservation Board, Forest Conservation Program, Proposal Solicitation Notice (PSN) closes. PSN priorities include meadow restoration, post-fire habitat recovery and aspen stand restoration as well as acquisitions that protect meadows, migration corridors or habitat connectivity. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov/programs/forest.

9 — World Migratory Bird Day Virtual Celebration with Elkhorn Slough Reserve. Celebrate the diversity of birds migrating through Elkhorn Slough Reserve with a naturalist-led exploration, live from the Reserve Visitor Center. Explore avian-themed crafts, games and hands-on activities free to download. To find out more, visit the event calendar at www.elkhornslough.org.

11 — California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group. The California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group will hold a public meeting to provide information about their assessment of marine life entanglement risk, including any Working Group recommendations to the CDFW Director regarding the May 15 risk determination. There will not be a designated opportunity for public comment during the meeting, however feedback can be shared directly with CDFW via email to whalesafefisheries@wildlife.ca.gov. An agenda will be posted on www.opc.ca.gov/whale-entanglement-working-group. For additional details about the meeting, please contact info@cawhalegroup.com or ryan.bartling@wildlife.ca.gov.

13 — Refugio Beach Oil Spill Virtual Open House to Discuss Draft Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan, 1 to 3 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. This online event will provide an opportunity for the public to meet with state and federal representatives from the Refugio Beach Oil Spill Trustee Council to learn more about the restoration projects and provide feedback. The draft Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan was released on April 22, and can be found at wildlife.ca.gov/ospr/nrda/refugio. If you are interested in attending one of the virtual open houses, please register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/5071390037067886094.  

13 — Lower American River Conservancy Program Advisory Committee Meeting, 1 p.m., via Skype or teleconference. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov/programs/lower-american-river.

14 — California Fish and Game Commission Teleconference, time to be determined. For more information, please visit fgc.ca.gov/Meetings/2020.

14 — California Fish and Game Commission Wildlife Resources Committee Meeting, time to be determined, teleconference/webinar only. For more information, please visit fgc.ca.gov/Meetings/2020.

15 Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery to Close South of the Sonoma/Mendocino County Line. All commercial Dungeness crab fishing gear must be removed from ocean waters south of the Sonoma-Mendocino county line by 11:59 p.m. on May 15, 2020. Additional information is available at wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/whale-safe-fisheries and wildlife.ca.gov/crab.

15 Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program Regulations Anticipated Public Comment Period. CDFW anticipates releasing proposed regulations to assess and respond to risk of marine life entanglement in the commercial Dungeness crab fishery on or around May 15, 2020. Rulemaking documents, including information about how to submit public comments and the public hearing date, will be available at wildlife.ca.gov/notices/regulations.

20 California Wildlife Conservation Board Meeting, 10 a.m., via Skype or teleconference. Public comment will be accepted per the agenda. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov.

26 — California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group. The California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group will hold a public meeting to provide information about their assessment of marine life entanglement risk, including any Working Group recommendations to the CDFW Director regarding the June 1 risk determination. There will not be a designated opportunity for public comment during the meeting, however feedback can be shared directly with CDFW via email to whalesafefisheries@wildlife.ca.gov. An agenda will be posted on www.opc.ca.gov/whale-entanglement-working-group. For additional details about the meeting, please contact info@cawhalegroup.com or ryan.bartling@wildlife.ca.gov.

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Media Contact:
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 817-0434

Commission Hires New Executive Director

The California Fish and Game Commission announced today the hiring of Valerie Termini to serve as its Executive Director.

Ms. Termini comes from California Ocean Protection Council staff where she has served as the fisheries policy advisor and as interim Executive Director.

“We look forward to Ms. Termini’s guidance at the dais,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham. “We’ve heard from a number of stakeholders that the Executive Director should be up to speed with the Commission’s vast authorities and have specific knowledge of marine policy issues. Ms. Termini’s background brings precisely this expertise.”

“We’re very pleased that Ms. Termini has stepped up to serve this historic Commission,” said Commission President Eric Sklar. “She has shown real vision in addressing challenges and has demonstrated expertise in facilitating resolution to complex issues working with diverse groups of stakeholders. We are thrilled that she will be bringing this skill from her previous experience to the Commission’s work to the great benefit of the state.”

Ms. Termini will be the first female Executive Director in the Commission’s history. She begins on May 16.

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