At its February meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission acted on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from yesterday’s meeting.
The Commission elected Peter Silva to succeed Eric Sklar as Commission President, a position Sklar has held for five years. The Commission also re-elected Samantha Murray as Commission Vice President.
“It has been one of the great honors of my public career to serve as president of the California Fish and Game Commission these last five years,” said Commissioner Sklar. “I am extremely proud of all the work we have done as a team and I look forward to the exceptional and progressive things we will achieve under President Silva and Vice President Murray.”
Under President Sklar’s leadership, the Commission worked with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) on numerous significant achievements, including:
Collaborated with the agricultural community to protect tricolored blackbird under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) while also supporting agricultural activities.
Simplified the state’s inland trout fishing regulations to make it easier for anglers to understand and to increase angling opportunities.
Helped ensure sustainable, long-term management of Pacific herring and spiny lobster by adopting fishery management plans for both species.
Created an opportunity for recreational fishermen to contribute to potential kelp recovery in California’s north coast ocean waters through research on urchin predation.
Streamlined fisheries resource management through automatic conformance to federal salmon and Pacific halibut regulations, as well as moving commercial fishing logbooks from paper submissions to allow near-real-time online reporting of fishing information.
About his new position, President Silva said, “I appreciate the trust my fellow commissioners have placed in me to lead the Commission at this time of anticipated change. Over the coming year we have several important tasks ahead of us, most significantly advancing a justice, equity, diversity and inclusion plan that will contribute to creating a more just and inclusive society.”
Late last year, the Commission began developing a justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) plan in collaboration with CDFW, to enhance the important work of both organizations in conserving and sustaining California’s fish and wildlife for their ecological values and for their use and enjoyment by the public.
“It is a pleasure to continue in my role as vice president of the Commission, where we have critical responsibilities related to conserving the state’s natural resources and preserving our wildlife heritage,” said Commission Vice President Murray. “I look forward to also advancing meaningful efforts to confront the history and impacts of structural discrimination and to take action to ensure equitable practices.”
“The Commission has made great strides under President Sklar,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “He has brought professionalism, intelligence and integrity to the dais, and I thank him for his passion for this work and for his friendship. I also look forward to the leadership of Commissioners Silva and Murray. If their efforts to elevate the JEDI plan are an indicator, the strength that Eric has brought to this Commission is certain to continue and the future is bright.”
The Commission assigned chairs for its three committees: Vice President Murray for the Marine Resources Committee, Commissioner Jacque Hostler-Carmesin for the Tribal Committee and Commissioner Sklar for the Wildlife Resources Committee.
The Commission unanimously voted to approve changes to mammal hunting regulations including changes to quotas and seasons for deer and antelope, and allow CDFW to provide refunds and reinstate preference points for specified elk, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn antelope hunts for hunters who endured a significant loss of opportunity due to forest closures and/or fire in specified hunt zones in 2020.
CDFW provided an overview of its five-year status review report of Milo Baker’s lupine and recommended that the Commission change its status under CESA from threatened to endangered. The Commission voted unanimously that listing the Milo Baker’s lupine as endangered 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, Milo Baker’s lupine is protected under CESA as a candidate species.
The Commission unanimously voted to adopt an emergency regulation to prohibit the use of hydraulic pump gear for recreational take of clams, sand crab and shrimp. The emergency regulation is in response to dramatic increases in recreational clamming effort and harvest rates using hydraulic hand pumps, necessitating immediate additional protections while a standard regulation is under development.
The full commission – President Peter Silva, Vice President Samantha Murray, and Commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Eric Sklar – was present. There is one vacancy on the Commission.
The agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at www.fgc.ca.gov. An archived audio file will be available in coming days. The next meeting of the full Commission is scheduled for April 14-15, 2021.
As a reminder, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Commission meetings through June 2021 will be held via webinar and teleconference.