Tag Archives: Public Safety

Commercial Dungeness Crab Season to Open throughout Most of the Southern Fishery; One Area Will Remain Closed

On Nov. 15, commercial Dungeness crab season will open from Point Reyes in Marin County south, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today. But at the recommendation of state health agencies, the CDFW Director is moving to close the commercial Dungeness crab fishery between Point Reyes and the Sonoma/Mendocino county line and to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point in San Mateo County.

This has the effect of closing approximately 60 miles of coastline to commercial Dungeness crab fishing that otherwise would have opened on Nov. 15. The fishery north of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line is not scheduled to open until Dec. 1.

The commercial Dungeness crab fishery had been scheduled to open all the way up to the Sonoma/Mendocino county line (about 60 miles north of Point Reyes) on Nov. 15 and the rock crab fishery is otherwise open year round, but some crabs collected and tested showed elevated levels of domoic acid. The naturally occurring toxin can sicken people who consume crab.

At the recommendation of the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham submitted to the Office of Administrative Law an emergency rulemaking to keep the commercial Dungeness crab fishery closed north of Point Reyes (38°00’ N. lat.) and to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point (37°11’ N. lat.). Last fall and winter, domoic acid along the West Coast interrupted Dungeness and rock crab fisheries from Santa Barbara to the Oregon state line.

“Given the very difficult season endured by commercial crabbers and their families last year, we were hopeful to open all areas on time this year,” said Director Bonham. “Fortunately, domoic acid levels are much lower than this time last year and, despite this action, we are optimistic we will still be able to have a good season.”

The recreational season for Dungeness crab opened on Nov. 5 with a warning from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to recreational anglers not to consume the viscera of Dungeness crab caught north of Point Reyes. State and federal laws prohibit the commercial distribution of seafood products that contain domoic acid levels above the federal action level of 30 parts per million in the viscera. Because of this, OEHHA in consultation with CDPH recommended to CDFW to close or delay the start of the commercial Dungeness crab season north of Point Reyes and close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point.

Closure of the above-referenced commercial fisheries shall remain in effect until the Director of OEHHA, in consultation with the Director of CDPH, determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommends the fisheries be open, and the Director of CDFW provides notification to the commercial fisheries. Recreational fisheries will remain open under a warning to anglers not to eat the viscera of crab caught in the affected areas.

CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in crab along the coast to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened.

CDPH, in conjunction with CDFW, has been actively testing crabs since early September and results from the most recent tests showed that select crabs from the closed areas had elevated levels of domoic acid in their viscera. 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.

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Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (11/7/2016)
Finding of Emergency (11/7/2016)
Notice of Emergency Regulatory Action (11/7/2016)

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

CDFW Determines Female Bear Attacked Southern California Man

Investigators from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) have concluded the investigation of a bear attack on a Southern California man last Monday. CDFW is unable to confirm the current location of the bear. No further efforts will be made to trap and/or euthanize the bear.

On Oct. 10, a 54-year-old hiker on national forest lands near Sierra Madre in Los Angeles County saw a bear on the trail in front of him, standing at his height. A few moments later, a second bear attacked him from the side, causing severe but not life-threatening injuries. The hiker was admitted to the hospital that day and has since been released.

Wildlife officers and animal experts examined tracks and other evidence at the scene and believe that the first bear seen may have been a yearling (approximately 12-24 months old), while the second bear may have been its mother. The CDFW wildlife forensics lab, which analyzed evidence including DNA extracted from saliva on the victim’s clothing, confirmed that the second bear was female.

“If it was a mother bear and her young, and the hiker came between the two through no fault of his own, it was just bad luck for them both,” said CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Rick Mayfield. “We are very thankful the individual’s injuries were not life-threatening, and fortunately, he will recover.”

There are approximately 30,000 black bears in the state. Bear attacks on humans are extremely rare, and there have been no recorded bear fatalities in California to date. Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts are reminded to be “Bear Aware” at all times while in animal habitat.

For tips on living with wildlife, please visit www.keepmewild.com.

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Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 212-7352

Caltrans and Fish and Wildlife Urge Motorists to Be Alert During Watch Out for Wildlife Week

Caltrans and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) remind motorists to remain alert for wildlife on roadways during Watch Out for Wildlife Week, which runs September 18-24.

“We urge motorists to remain alert and be cautious when traveling through wildlife areas, so our roadways will remain as safe as possible,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “Drivers can really make a difference in avoiding wildlife collisions, simply by being aware while driving and watching for wildlife crossing signs.”

According to Defenders of Wildlife, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting native species and their natural communities, there are 725,000 to 1.5 million wildlife-vehicle collisions in the U.S. every year, resulting in more than 200 human fatalities. In California, between eight and 10 drivers and as many as 20,000 deer die in wildlife-vehicle collisions each year.

“Between now and December, deer and other wildlife are highly susceptible to vehicle collisions,” said Marc Kenyon, CDFW’s Human-Wildlife Conflict Program Manager. “Deer will soon start their annual migrations to winter range, bucks will be preoccupied competing for mates, and bears will be searching for food in preparation for hibernation. Such natural behaviors can lead these animals into the way of unsuspecting drivers. Drivers can prevent collisions with animals by being careful and paying attention.”

The Watch Out for Wildlife campaign is supported by Caltrans, CDFW, Defenders of Wildlife and the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Davis.

Wildlife experts from these organizations offer the following tips for motorists:

  • Be especially alert when driving in areas frequented by wildlife, and reduce your speed so you can react safely.
  • Pay particular attention when driving during the morning and evening, as wildlife are most active during these times.
  • If you see an animal cross the road, know that another may be following.
  • Don’t litter. The odors may entice animals to venture near roadways.
Seen in the side mirror of a vehicle, a doe crosses the road.
Dave Feliz photo

Here are a few examples of what Caltrans, CDFW and their partners are doing to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, improve awareness of key issues, and improve ecological sustainability:

Highway 246, Santa Barbara County

Six new highway undercrossings have been designed for California tiger salamanders and small animals to pass safely between breeding ponds and upland habitat on the opposite sides of Highway 246 between Buellton and Lompoc. This species is protected under both state and federal Endangered Species Acts. In addition to the design and implementation of these six undercrossings, Caltrans has proposed a five-year monitoring study to assess the undercrossings’ effects on California tiger salamanders and other animals crossing the highway. The project is expected to be completed in April 2017.

Highway 89, Sierra County

On a stretch of Highway 89 between Truckee and Sierraville, a recently-completed $2.08 million project consists of two new 12-foot by 10-foot wildlife undercrossings, providing a safe path for animals to cross under the roadway. The project also includes four escape ramps and over 14,000 linear feet of deer fencing on both sides of the highway to help prevent wildlife-vehicle collisions.

Highway 76, San Diego County

Two new wildlife projects, which are part of the $208 million State Route 76 (SR-76 Corridor Project) East Segment and Interchange construction project between Interstate 15 and Interstate 5, will include six wildlife crossings and escape ramps. Wildlife escape ramps allow animals to jump out of the fenced-in highway, if needed. Post-project monitoring will be conducted after completion to monitor their use and influence decision-making for future projects. The project is expected to be completed in late 2017. Five other new wildlife crossings and directional fencing were installed as part of the SR-76 Melrose to Mission Highway Improvement Project in 2012, also part of the SR-76 Corridor Project.

 

Media Contacts:
Dana Michaels, CDFG Communications, (916) 322-2420
Tamie McGowen, Caltrans Public Affairs, (916) 657-5060

More Areas Open for Recreational Dungeness Crab Fishing, Commercial Fishery to Open in Same Areas in 10 Days

Except for one area within Humboldt County, the California coast is open for recreational Dungeness crab fishing. The commercial crab fishery will follow in the same areas, opening May 12.

The recreational Dungeness crab fishery is open north of 41° 17.6’ N latitude at the southern boundary line of Reading Rock State Marine Conservation Area (near Redwood Creek), Humboldt County to the California/Oregon border, however the recreational fishery remains closed between 40° 46.15′ N latitude (a line extending due west from the west end of the north jetty at the entrance of Humboldt Bay) and 41° 17.6’ N latitude.

Today the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) were notified by the director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), after consultation with the director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), that it no longer recommends the Dungeness crab fishery be closed in this area. According to the notice, repeated sampling of Dungeness crab and analysis of samples by CDPH laboratories indicates that consumption of Dungeness crab taken from this area no longer poses a significant threat for domoic acid exposure.

Pursuant to the emergency regulations adopted by CDFW (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 131), CDFW is providing commercial Dungeness crab fishermen ten days’ notice before the opening of the commercial fishery. The commercial fishery will open at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, May 12, from the Mendocino/Sonoma County line to 40° 46.15′ N latitude (a line extending due west from the west end of the north jetty at the entrance of Humboldt Bay) and north of 41° 17.6’ N latitude at the southern boundary line at Reading Rock SMCA (near Redwood Creek), Humboldt County to the California/Oregon border. The presoak period, during which commercial fishers may begin setting gear in place, starts at 8:01 a.m. Monday, May 9. For answers regarding fair start concerns due to the partial opening of Fish and Game District 6, see the latest department FAQs: Application of the Fair Start Rule to Potential Opening of Closed Areas on the North Coast.

The recreational Dungeness crab season in Humboldt and Mendocino counties is scheduled to end July 30 under regular open season regulations in the newly opened area while in counties south of Mendocino County the recreational season closes on June 30. The commercial fishery in the newly opened Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 are scheduled to end July 15 under regular open season regulations.

The recreational and commercial rock crab fishery is open along the mainland coast south of 36° 58.72′ N latitude (Sand Hill Bluff, Santa Cruz County) and in the Channel Islands except in the Channel Islands exclusion area between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands (see coordinates below).

Despite several weeks of test results that showed samples below alert levels, as a precaution, CDPH and OEHHA recommend that anglers and consumers not eat the viscera (internal organs, also known as “butter” or “guts”) of crabs. CDPH and OEHHA are also recommending that water or broth used to cook whole crabs be discarded and not used to prepare dishes such as sauces, broths, soups or stews. The viscera usually contain much higher levels of domoic acid than crab body meat. When whole crabs are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach from the viscera into the cooking liquid. This precaution is being recommended to avoid harm in the unlikely event that some crabs taken from an open fishery have elevated levels of domoic acid.

Pursuant to the emergency regulations adopted by the Commission and CDFW on November 5 and 6, 2015, respectively, the current open and closed areas are as follows:

Areas open to crab fishing include:

  • Recreational Dungeness crab fishery open along mainland coast south of 40° 46.15’ N lat., at the Humboldt Bay entrance, Humboldt County, including ocean waters of Humboldt Bay to the California/Mexico border and north of 41° 17.6’ N lat. at the southern boundary of the Reading Rock SMCA (near Redwood Creek), Humboldt County to the California/Oregon border.
  • On May 12, 2016 commercial Dungeness crab fishery open along mainland coast south of 40° 46.15’ N lat., at the Humboldt Bay entrance, Humboldt County to the California/Mexico border and north of 41° 17.6’ N lat. at the southern boundary of the Reading Rock SMCA (near Redwood Creek), Humboldt County to the California/Oregon border. Note: The commercial fishery is currently open south of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line.
  • Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries are open along the mainland coast south of 36° 58.72′ N Lat.at Sand Hill Bluff, Santa Cruz County (approximately 9 miles north of Santa Cruz Harbor Entrance).
  • Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries are open in state waters of the Channel Islands except for an exclusion area between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands (see coordinates below).

Areas closed to crab fishing include:

  • Commercial and recreational Dungeness crab fishery are closed between of 40° 46.15’ N lat., near Humboldt Bay entrance, Humboldt County and 41° 17.6’ N lat. at southern boundary of the Reading Rock SMCA (near Redwood Creek), Humboldt County.
  • Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries are closed north of 36° 58.72′ N lat. and in state waters between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands within an exclusion area bounded by straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

(1) 34° 7.75’ N lat. 120° 0.00’ W long.;

(2) 34° 7.75’ N lat. 119° 50.00’ W long.;

(3) 33° 53.00’ N lat. 119° 50.00’ W long.;

(4) 33° 53.00’ N lat. 120° 0.00’ W long.; and

(5) 34° 7.75’ N lat. 120° 0.00’ W long.

 CDFW will continue to closely coordinate with CDPH, OEHHA and fisheries representatives to extensively monitor domoic acid levels in Dungeness and rock crabs to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened throughout the state.

OEHHA Memo: http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=122849&inline

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

Possible Recreational Razor Clam Closure in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties

Today, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) re-issued a health advisory reminding individuals to avoid eating recreationally harvested razor clams along Humboldt and Del Norte county beaches due to elevated domoic acid levels. This advisory was followed by a recommendation from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) to the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) to close the recreational razor clam fishery in Humboldt and Del Norte counties.

The OEHHA recommendation has prompted an emergency meeting of the Commission, scheduled to take place Monday, April 25 (detailed agenda to be posted at www.fgc.ca.gov/meetings). At that time, the Commission will consider whether to close the recreational razor clam fishery in Humboldt and Del Norte counties.

Razor clams tested from Humboldt and Del Norte counties showed domoic acid levels significantly above the federal action level of 20 parts per million (ppm) with all but one of the samples (17 out of 18) exceeding that action level. One third of the samples taken showed levels above 100 ppm. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will continue to coordinate with OEHHA and CDPH to test domoic acid levels in razor clams along the coast to determine when the fishery 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.

OEHHA Memo 4/20/2016: http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=122446&inline

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