Category Archives: Editor’s Blog

Fish And Game Commission Accepts Petition To Restrict Klamath Basin Fishing Ops

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife: 

At its February 2019 meeting in Sacramento, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources.

The Commission accepted a petition to list Upper Klamath-Trinity River Spring Chinook Salmon as endangered, setting into motion a status review to be completed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

The petitioners, the Karuk Tribe and Salmon River Restoration Council, submitted information suggesting declining population trends and a low abundance, making this stock of salmon vulnerable to extinction. The Commission action results in Spring Chinook Salmon being designated as a Candidate Species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), which provides Candidate Species the same protections as species listed as endangered and threatened under CESA.

CDFW also requested the Commission adopt emergency fishing regulations necessary to reconcile them with the CESA protections. CDFW will also be in consultation with federal regulatory bodies concerning ocean fishing regulations.

Acceptance of the petition triggers a one-year status review by CDFW to determine if a CESA listing by the Commission may be warranted. CDFW, after review of the best scientific information available, will make a recommendation to the Commission on whether to list Spring Chinook Salmon as either endangered or threatened, or that listing is not warranted at this time.

The following inland salmon fishing closures were approved by the Commission through the emergency regulations:

  1. Klamath River main stem from the mouth of the river to Iron Gate dam. Closed to salmon fishing from the anticipated effective date of February 22 (subject to approval from the Office of Administrative Law (OAL)) to August 14.
  2. Trinity River main stem from its confluence to the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat. Closed to salmon fishing from the anticipated effective date of February 22 (subject to OAL approval) to August 31.
  3. Trinity River main stem from upstream of the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat to Old Lewiston Bridge. Closed to salmon fishing from the anticipated effective date of February 22 (subject to OAL approval) to October 15.

Fishing for Upper Klamath-Trinity River Fall Chinook Salmon will be allowed in these areas after the closure dates listed above. Quotas and bag and possession limits for Fall Chinook Salmon will be adopted by the Commission in May of this year. Steelhead fishing will be allowed year-round with normal bag and possession limits.

Along with its adoption of the emergency regulations, the Commission also directed CDFW to work with stakeholders, including affected counties, fishing organizations, Tribes and conservation groups, to investigate options to allow some Spring Chinook Salmon fishing in 2019. Under Section of 2084 of Fish and Game Code, the Commission can consider hook-and-line recreational fishing on a Candidate Species. CDFW will present the results of that stakeholder collaboration and potential options using Section 2084 at the Commission’s next public meeting, which will be held April 17 in Santa Monica.

The public may keep track of the quota status of open and closed sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers by calling the information hotline at (800) 564-6479.

CDFW Relocates Tule Elk In Central Valley

 

Fascinating footage above from Sacramento’s CBS 13 TV affiliate .

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife relocated 79 elk from separate wildlife areas in the south San Joaquin Valley to further north after a similar transfer from the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge in Merced County to San Luis Obispo County.

Here’s more from reporter Steve Large:

In total, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife relocated 79 Tule Elk this way, by helicopter.

It’s a relocation show, Fish and Wildlife Department’s Peter Tira says, never grows old.

“It is incredible, you just don’t see anything like that,” Tira said.

CDFW Seeking Public Help For 2019 Halibut Season Dates

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

California anglers who are interested in the recreational Pacific Halibut fishery are invited to participate in an online survey. The data gathered through this survey will help inform the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) about angler preferences for open fishing dates during the upcoming 2019 season, and will be used to develop recommended season dates that will be provided to the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The survey can be found online through Friday, Feb. 15, 2019.

The Pacific Halibut fishery takes place off northern California. In 2018, the fishery was open May 1-June 15, July 1-15, Aug. 1-15, and Sept. 1-21. The fishery closed Sept. 21 at 11:59 p.m. due to projected attainment of the 30,940 net pound quota. The 2019 quota will be 39,000 net pounds, approximately 8,000 net pounds greater than the 2018 quota.

For more information, please visit the CDFW Pacific Halibut Fishery webpage.

Trust us when we say there are king salmon migrating to the Sacramento and Feather Rivers. Cooler water temperatures are expected, and especially the Sacramento looks like a decent option to catch ?sh this month. (MSJ GUIDE SERVICE)

GGSA: Salmon Threatened By Water Diversion Plan

The following press release is courtesy of the Golden Gate Salmon Association: 

San Francisco – Today the Trump administration released a new proposal aimed at increasing water diversions from the Bay-Delta ecosystem at the expense of salmon and the tens of thousands of fishing industry jobs that depend on them https://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=64503 .  In spite of years of declining salmon runs and industry losses, the administration is saying the water diversion system that moves billions of gallons of Central Valley water from where nature intended it to the western San Joaquin Valley doesn’t damage salmon.  Today’s announcement, called a biological assessment, is a step towards abandoning federal rules governing the damaging effects of the giant state and federal water diverting pumps in the Delta, which were adopted in 2008 and 2009.

“This is a blatant water grab that threatens thousands of fishing jobs and families in California,” said GGSA secretary Dick Pool who also owns Pro Troll tackle company. “For the administration to claim that the giant federal water project, which includes the massive diversion pumps in the Delta, can run at full bore and not harm salmon runs is simply not credible.”

“The Trump administration won’t be able to get away with killing off our salmon runs if the state refuses to cooperate.  We call on the Newsom administration to just say no to this attack on California’s salmon fishing families,” said GGSA director Noah Oppenheim who is also executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, a group representing commercial fishermen.

“We’ve seen what happens when water users are given free rein to divert Bay-Delta water.  It was the norm prior to 2008 and it killed so many baby salmon attempting to get to the ocean that all ocean salmon fishing had to be shut for the first time in history in 2008 and 2009,” said GGSA director Mike Aughney who also publishes USAfishing.com.

The Golden Gate Salmon Association (www.goldengatesalmonassociation.org) is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fisherman, businesses, restaurants, a native tribe, environmentalists, elected officials, families and communities that rely on salmon. GGSA’s mission is to restore California’s largest salmon runs in the Central Valley rivers because they provide the bulk of salmon caught off our coast and inland rivers. We serve the sport and commercial anglers that rely on salmon as a long-term, sustainable resource. Salmon recovery is our passion.

Currently, California’s salmon industry is valued at $1.4 billion in annual economic activity and $700 million in economic activity and jobs Oregon in a normal season. The industry employs tens of thousands of people from Santa Barbara to northern Oregon. This is a huge economic bloc made up of commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen (fresh and salt water), fish processors, marinas, coastal communities, equipment manufacturers, tackle shops and marine stores, the hotel and food industry, tribes, and the salmon fishing industry at large.

Mysterious Deaths Of Shasta-Area Wolfpack

https://twitter.com/RyanSabalow/status/1091329896406646784
The Sacramento Bee’s Ryan Sabalow wrote a fascinating piece on the disappearance of an historic pack of wolf pups that were born in California, the first such “native” wolves in since the early 20th century.
Here’s Sabalow with a little more on the mystery:
Three and a half years later, the Shasta Pack has vanished from Siskiyou County. All but one of the wolves disappeared within a few weeks of a standoff between ranchers and the pack and after the wolves were spotted feeding on a calf carcass. Just one pup is known to have survived; biologists say DNA tests show it left the state.
State wildlife officials were never able to place a tracking collar on a member of the pack before they vanished. No corpses were found.
That’s left a trail of questions. And wolf advocates say they are especially troubled by one of those questions in light of recent wolf news. Last month, state wildlife officers quietly opened a wolf poaching investigation following the death of an animal in neighboring Modoc County. If confirmed, it would be the first time someone killed a wolf in California since they were eradicated early last century.
https://twitter.com/KQED/status/1090474721626505216
Earlier this week, the state announced that gray wolves should remain protected by the California Endangered Species Act, but the state’s ranchers are sure to  protest any protection for the predators.

Blue-Eyed Coyotes Spotted In California

 

Perhaps the great Sinatra – aka “Ol’ Blue Eyes” – has been reincanarnated in the form of California coyotes that also seem to have hypnotic blue eyes. National Geographic‘s Callie Broaddaus dug deep into the trend:

Dietrich, who happened upon the original coyote one fine April morning, at first didn’t think she was anything special. She sports tall, lanky legs, a silvery-brown coat for camouflage, and large, triangular ears that help her listen for gophers hidden in the grass.

However, while almost all coyotes have golden-brown irises, hers are icy-blue. National Geographic investigated Dietrich’s find in June of 2018, calling the coyote potentially “one in a million.”

Since then, coyotes with baby blues have been seen and photographed to the east near Sacramento, and far to the south, outside Santa Cruz. Two are now known to live in Point Reyes—an eye injury to the first enabled photographer David Kramer to definitively identify the second.

Maybe Crystal Gayle too was onto something:

 

New Groundfish Regulations Now In Effect

CDFW photo

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife: 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding anglers that multiple changes to the recreational groundfish regulations have gone into effect for 2019. The new regulations were adopted by the California Fish and Game Commission in mid-December. Anglers should check CDFW’s website for the current regulations before fishing for groundfish, as changes can occur in-season. Groundfish regulations printed in the 2018-19 ocean regulations book are now out of date.

CDFW worked closely with recreational stakeholders to develop the following changes:

  • A decrease to the daily bag and possession limit for lingcod from two to one fish in the Mendocino, San Francisco, Central and Southern Management Areas. The Northern Management Area lingcod bag limit remains at two fish. CDFW recently published a blog post that provides a detailed explanation about this change.
  • Boat-based fishing for groundfish in the San Francisco Management Area opens on April 1, two weeks earlier than last year.
  • California scorpionfish (sometimes referred to as sculpin) is now open year-round in the Southern Management Area.
  • The Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) boundary has increased to 75 fathoms (450 feet) in the Southern Management Area.
  • The depth limit has increased to 40 fathoms (240 feet) inside the Cowcod Conservation Area, where select groundfish species may be taken or possessed.
  • The 40 and 75 fathom depth boundaries are defined by federal waypoints and can be found in Code of Federal Regulations Title 50, Part 660, Subpart C.

Many of these changes were made in response to the outcomes of recent stock assessment science. Populations of yelloweye rockfish and cowcod, which were declared overfished in 2002 and 2000, respectively are increasing faster than anticipated. The improved status of these species allowed fishery managers to recommend management measures that provide some additional fishing opportunity. Similarly, in the spring of 2018, the canary rockfish sub-bag limit increased to two fish statewide, as the catch of this recently rebuilt stock was well under the recently increased harvest limit.

Take and possession of bronzespotted rockfish, cowcod and yelloweye rockfish remains prohibited statewide.

For more detailed information on the new 2019 recreational groundfish regulations and to stay informed of in-season changes, please call the Recreational Groundfish Hotline at (831) 649-2801 or visit CDFW’s summary of recreational groundfish fishing regulations for 2019. For background information on groundfish science and management, please visit CDFW’s Marine Region Groundfish webpage.

Great White Shark Poaching Case Sees Suspect Convicted

CDFW put out this alert on a shark found dead in Santa Cruz.

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife: 

A San Jose man was recently convicted in Santa Cruz Superior Court for unlawfully killing a Great White Shark (also known as a White Shark) in Santa Cruz County last summer.

Vinh Pham, 41, was fined $5,000 and placed on conditional probation for two years. The court also ordered his firearm to be destroyed.

Wildlife officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) began their investigation on June 17, 2018, immediately after the nine-foot male White Shark washed up on Beer Can Beach in Aptos. A necropsy (animal autopsy) performed on the shark confirmed that it had been killed by multiple shots from a .22 caliber firearm. Soon after, CDFW received a tip on its CalTIP reporting line that a member of a commercial fishing boat crew may have been responsible for the shark’s death.

Officers investigated the tip that night and observed the vessel fishing after dark near where the shark was discovered. Two wildlife officers contacted the crew as the vessel returned to Santa Cruz Harbor early the next morning. A regular commercial fishing inspection uncovered multiple violations involving their catch for that day, including possession of undersize halibut, no landing receipts, failure to weigh their commercial catch and failure to turn in landing receipts. During this investigation, the officers located a fully loaded .22 caliber rifle concealed behind the seat of the truck the suspect was using to transport his commercial catch to markets. Officers seized the rifle as evidence, then submitted both the rifle and the .22 bullets extracted during the shark necropsy to the California Department of Justice crime lab to see if they matched.

As the investigation progressed, Pham confessed, claiming he shot the shark after seeing it swimming near the wings of his deployed fishing net. On Jan. 14, 2019, Pham pled to multiple charges including wanton waste of the White Shark, possessing a loaded rifle in his vehicle, possessing undersize halibut, failing to accurately weigh his catch, failing to complete landing receipts and failing to submit landing receipts.

CDFW thanks Assistant District Attorney Ed Browne of the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office for prosecuting the case.

If you witness a poaching or polluting incident or any fish and wildlife violation, or have information about such a violation, immediately dial the toll free CalTIP number, (888) 334-225824 hours a day, seven days a week. Tips may also be submitted to CDFW using tip411, an internet-based tool that enables wildlife officers respond directly to the reporting party, initiating a two-way conversation. Tipsters may remain anonymous if they choose. Tips can be sent to CDFW by texting “CALTIP”, followed by a space and the message, to 847411 (tip411).

Outbreak Of Avian Cholera Kills Thousands Of Salton Sea Birds

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife: 

Thousands of water birds died of an avian cholera outbreak at the south end of the Salton Sea between Jan. 8-17. Outbreaks like this one occur annually as a result of birds flocking closely together during migration.

On Jan. 8, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) began receiving reports of hundreds of dead birds at the south end of the Salton Sea from local waterfowl hunters and staff at the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge (SBNWR). CDFW investigated the event and discovered over a thousand bird carcasses concentrated around Bruchard Bay west of the New River. Over the next week, staff from CDFW and SBNWR collected more than 1,200 carcasses consisting of mainly Ruddy Ducks, Northern Shovelers, Black-necked Stilts and Gulls. Most carcasses were incinerated at SBNWR to reduce the spread of disease; however, several samples were shipped to the CDFW Wildlife Investigations Lab in Rancho Cordova to determine the cause of death. The samples tested positive for avian cholera.

avian chol 2

CDFW photo

Avian cholera is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Pasteurella multocida. Outbreaks occur annually during the winter in California and may result in the deaths of thousands of birds. Waterfowl and coots are the most commonly affected. Pasteurella multocida is released into the environment by dead and dying birds or asymptomatic carriers, and is transmitted through direct bird-to-bird contact or through the ingestion of contaminated food or water. Predatory and scavenging birds may acquire avian cholera by feeding on infected birds. Avian cholera is transmitted easily between birds when they flock together in high densities. Birds are most susceptible to the disease during stressful periods, especially during the winter months when birds congregate at key water sources during migration, and the weather is cold and damp.

CDFW staff will continue monitoring and collecting carcasses around the Salton Sea over the next few weeks. CDFW’s Bermuda Dunes Field Office, Wildlife Investigations Lab and local game wardens will continue to coordinate with partners, including staff at SBNWR and the Imperial Wildlife Area – Wister Unit to share information and prepare to respond should the die off increase.