Tag Archives: California Department of Fish and Wildlife

California’s ocean salmon fishing season closed for second year in a row

California’s commercial and recreational ocean salmon fishing season is set to be closed for the second consecutive year, another blow to the state’s beleaguered industry suffering from the combined fallout of drought, climate disruption and deteriorating ocean conditions. Already, a new request is underway for yet another federal disaster declaration to help alleviate some of the wide economic damage from the closure, affecting not just the fleet but many associated businesses that depend on the fishery, one of the state’s most lucrative. Many fishermen, already resigned to a severely limited season if any at all due to depleted stocks, had backed the full closure. “For nine months now, we’ll probably be without income. When you look at overall impact, it’s significant. Do we want the closure? Obviously, no. Is it necessary? Yes,” said Dick Ogg, a Bodega Bay commercial fisherman and president of the Bodega Bay Fishermen’s Marketing Association. Photos, more, >>click to read<< 07:43

California’s commercial salmon fishermen face another disaster of a season amid proposed federal restrictions

A regional fishery council is mulling three proposals for commercial salmon season, with one canceling the season entirely and the other two severely limiting how long the season would last and how many salmon could be taken.  While two of the proposed options do offer limited commercial fishing opportunities, at least one local fisherman says the restrictions would significantly curb the viability of salmon fishing. “These really aren’t a viable option for anyone,” said Tim Obert, a Ben Lomond resident who’s been fishing salmon commercially for close to 20 years.  Obert is president of the Santa Cruz Commercial Fishermen’s Association, sits on the state of California’s Dungeness Crab Task Force and is also a part of several working groups that advised the council in coming up with the alternative proposals. more, >>click to read<< 11:07

Santa Barbara Commercial Lobster Fisherman Convicted for Abandoning Traps

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has announced the successful prosecution and conviction of a Santa Barbara commercial lobster fisherman on a multitude of commercial lobster fishing violations. Christopher Miller, 67, of Los Alamos, was recently convicted in Santa Barbara Superior Court. Miller pled guilty to falsifying commercial fishing records, harvesting lobster out of season, then abandoning at least 156 commercial lobster traps around Santa Cruz Island and the Santa Barbara Harbor. It was Miller’s third commercial lobster poaching conviction since 2014. After closure of the 2021-22 commercial lobster season, and after being ordered to remove his lobster traps by CDFW wildlife officers, Miller failed to retrieve any of his traps from state waters. more, >>click to read<< 09:48

Hundreds of thousands of salmon released in Northern California river die in ‘large mortality’ event

As many as hundreds of thousands of fall-run Chinook salmon died early last week due to suspected gas bubble disease. The fish were released into the 257-mile-long Klamath River near the California-Oregon border following November’s historic dam removal at the site, which was intended to help the stream flow freely again and bolster the habitat for the protected species. Still, the CDFW said those conditions, while unfortunate, were anticipated, and that its hatchery has over three million more salmon it plans to release later this month, downstream from the dam and tunnel. Juvenile fish like salmon fry can have high mortality rates due to predators, lack of food or disease, and the CDFW’s planned release will include fish in later stages of the species’ life cycle, specifically smolts and yearlings. more, >>click to read<< 09:28

Bacher: CDFW salmon info webinar to discuss 2023 returns, 2024 ocean abundance estimates

Will there be salmon seasons this year on the ocean waters off the California Coast and on the Sacramento and Klamath rivers? We will get an idea of the potential for recreational and commercial salmon seasons this year when the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) holds its annual Salmon Information Meeting via webinar at 10 a.m. March 1. The meeting will provide informational presentations on topics including last year’s spawning escapement, estimates of forecasted ocean abundance and management goals for 2024 ocean salmon season. Last year all ocean recreational and commercial fishing and river recreational fishing for salmon was closed in California. more, >>click to read<< 07:58

F/V Aleutian Storm: Wind and waves claim most of grounded fishing boat near Bodega Bay

No one thought it would happen this fast, but the fate that everyone feared for the once proud Aleutian Storm has come to pass. Stranded on Sonoma Coast State Beach amid powerful storms and thrashing waves just 12 days ago, the 58-foot fishing boat has been reduced to little more than a gashed and battered hull. The vessel has been torn apart piece by piece — the mast, the pilot house, the cabin, the decking — resulting in a debris field that now encompasses much of North Salmon Creek Beach, as well as the south. Bits of foam rubber and Styrofoam are scattered far and wide. The boat also appears to have leaked all or most of the diesel fuel still left on board after an attempt to drag it out of the surf and onto the beach failed on Friday. Video, Photos, more, >>click to read<< 19:48

F/V Aleutian Storm: Unified Command transitions authority of response for the grounded vessel near Bodega Bay

The U.S. Coast Guard and California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (CDFW-OSPR) transitioned the authority of lead responding agency to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (NOAA’s GFNMS) Monday. NOAA’s GFNMS will lead the oversight of salvage operations in coordination with state and local agencies and the vessel’s owner. The Unified Command determined that pollution removal operations would be unsafe due to weather conditions and the degraded condition of the vessel. With the current safety concerns, the determination was then made to shift to salvage operations. more, >>click to read<< 06:42

San Mateo County crabbing season producing a solid yield, gear reduction remains a challenge

A month after commercial Dungeness crab season opened in the Half Moon Bay area on Jan. 18, residents and tourists alike can purchase fresh crab off the back of local fishing vessels docked at the Pillar Point Harbor. Seafood lovers can also pick it up fresh at nearby fish markets or enjoy it cooked seasonally at nearby restaurants, which serve both whole crabs and different variations of seafood boil medley. Half Moon Bay fisher Barry Day reiterated the sentiment. “We’re having a good year now, but with the quieter years, you need all the gear,” he said. Nevertheless, he said, fishers in the Half Moon Bay harbor are relatively “busy with what we got,” Day said. more, >>click to read<< 07:55

Crab gear reduction for commercial fishers extended through mid-March

Less than a month after the commercial Dungeness crab season opened in the Monterey Bay region, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has extended the gear reduction in all fishing zones south of the Mendocino/Sonoma County line. “It’s about the minimum we can survive on viably,” fisher Tim Obert told Lookout in January. Obert is a Santa Cruz native who has fished commercially for more than two decades. He serves as president of the Santa Cruz Commercial Fishermen’s Association and sits on the state’s Dungeness Crab Task Force. more, >>click to read<< 10:42

Dungeness crab: The West Coast’s forever fishery

Fourth-generation fisherman Kelsey Cutting has photos of boats prominently displayed in his Long Beach, Wash., dining room. On one side is his grandfather’s old trawler, the Lulu 2, a 35-foot wooden double ender. “The other side I have a picture of my boat, the Jeannie Irene, which is a 50-foot fiberglass boat, and it’s 10 years old. It’s a big difference,” Cutting said. The fishing fleet on the West Coast has gotten bigger and more modern, and the portion of boats that can operate in relatively poor weather has increased, he said.  The job remains dangerous, though, and storms can be unforgiving. But there can be a handsome payoff at the docks, especially for Dungeness crab. The West Coast’s top fishery surpassed $200 million in value in Washington, Oregon and California in 2022-23. Photos, more, >>click to read<< 15:46

Frustrated fishermen get good news: good rockfishing, salmon fishing to return in 2024

With an oversized head, bulbous eyes and narrow body, the quillback rockfish looks like a golden bullfrog armed with a quiver full of arrows on its back. Few sport fishermen want to keep, much less eat, the famously sharp and ouchy and skinny quillback, which are reeled by those seeking meatier rockfish. But it was the quillback, which is often tossed back into the sea, whose population plummet caused a shutdown that impacted the entire rockfish industry, both for commercial and for party boats operating out of Mendocino Coast’s Noyo Harbor. That mysterious plunge in quillback numbers cut off all near-shore rockfish fishing last year, causing an organized outcry by fishermen and a new plan for 2024. Photos, more, >>click to read<< 07:15

Fishermen are gearing up for the Dungeness crab season to start next week

After months of delays, local fishermen will finally be allowed to fish for Dungeness crab off of the Central Coast. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced the season will reopen on Jan. 18; however, fleets will only be allowed to use 50 percent of their traps. Meanwhile, those in the industry say the delays and restrictions are frustrating.  “The last five years, we’ve been losing all our holiday markets. That means we have to go out in rougher weather,” said Chris Zajac, a Santa Cruz Dungeness crab fisherman. “We only get a month and a half to fish, whereas we used to get eight months to fish for crab,” Zajac said. Video, >>click to read<< 11:24

Dungeness Crab season begins January 5

The commercial Dungeness crab season commences in Del Norte County, this week. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFWD) announced the Dungeness season is now open in zones 1 and 2, Sonoma County line to the Oregon border. The delay in zones 3-6, South of the Sonoma / Mendocino will continue to be restricted. Multiple delays in opening the Crab season have been attributed to excessive humpback whale entanglements and the high number of whale sightings, according to the DFWD Assessment and Mitigation program. more, >>click to read<< 17:25

CDFW Opens Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery in Northern Management Zone, Continues Commercial Fishery Delay in Central Management Area.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will open the commercial Dungeness crab fishery from the Oregon state line to the Sonoma/Mendocino county line (Fishing Zones 1 and 2) under a Fleet Advisory beginning Jan. 5, 2024 at 12:01 a.m. with a 64-hour pre-soak to begin on Jan. 2, 2024 at 8:01 a.m. The commercial fishery will remain delayed from the Sonoma/Mendocino county line to the U.S./Mexico border (Fishing Zones 3, 4, 5 and 6) until at least the next risk assessment due to elevated numbers of humpback whales resulting in increased entanglement risk. CDFW is also continuing the temporary recreational crab trap restriction from the Sonoma/Mendocino county line to Lopez Point, Monterey County, more, >>click to read<< 17:29

Commercial crabbing start pushed into 2024

Dungeness crab in the vicinity of the mouth of the Columbia are still only inching their way toward the proportion of meat required before commercial harvest is allowed, delaying the season again. Fishery managers decided on Dec. 18 to push out the season start to Dec. 31, Jan. 15 or Feb. 1. They will meet Dec. 20 to settle on which date crabbers will be allowed to drop their pots, with deliveries back to port typically occurring around 72 hours later. Samples gathered Dec. 17 found south Pacific County crab had 20.7% recoverable meat, up from 19.4% meat on Nov. 28. Clatsop County crab tested at 22.9%, just shy of the mandatory minimum meat recovery criteria of 23% north of Cascade Head, and up from 21.1% on Nov. 29. more, >>click to read<< 14:30

Dungeness Crab Season Delayed Again, SF Crabbers Miss Holiday Haul

For decades, fishers have earned a living selling Dungeness crab out of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. But many, like Shawn Chen Flading, have struggled over the last five years as the state has consecutively delayed the commercial season. “Every delay is difficult. Right now, I have zero income as a fisherman,” Flading said.  The season, which has historically started on Nov. 15, is delayed until at least New Year’s Day to protect migrating humpback whales. Crabbers like Flading hope to catch the tail end of the holidays to recoup what they’ve lost. “It’s something people like to splurge on to create a feast,” Flading said. “But with the delay, we’ve lost all the holiday markets.” Photos, more, >>click to read<< 13:37

California’s Central Valley Chinook Are Getting Lost on Their Way Home

Picture yourself: a chinook salmon in the prime of your life. You dart through the water off California’s central coast, winding through kelp and dodging hungry sea lions. Long, sleek and silver, dappled with dark spots. Eyes wide and vigilant. More than 20 kilograms of pure muscle. You’ve been out at sea for several years now, first voyaging north along the Oregon coastline, then westward into deeper water. As winter approaches and the days grow shorter, you’ve found your way back to California. You’ve felt the seasons turn before, but this year, it means something special. Your kind, the Central Valley chinook—what fishers call the king salmon—are not born at sea. For thousands of years, your ancestors began their lives in the heart of California, where tributaries and streams flow together to form the mighty Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers.  photos, >>click to read<< 08:31

California Dungeness crab season on hold again, fishermen losing out big

“Absolutely criminal”.
Crabber Matthew Paul,

Dungeness crab season is on hold again.  There are a lot fewer fishing boats at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay these days. A high number of migrating humpback whales and a recently confirmed leatherback sea turtle, the largest turtle in the world, being caught in Dungeness crab fishing gear, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, has caused the state to prevent crab traps from being used once again. “Absolutely criminal ’cause they’re not solving the problem by keeping us tied to the dock,” Matthew Paul, who has been crabbing along the California coast for four decades.”That’s about six bucks to the public,” Rick Hauschel explained the price of a crab held in his hands, after lifting one out of a tank on his boat, the Polaris.  Video, photos, >>click to read<< 06:59

Where will the whales be? Ask the climate model

Fishers Richard Ogg and Dan Kammerer catch Dungeness crab in waters off Bodega Bay, Calif.

In a new study, scientists say they can now use global temperature models, commonly used in climate science, to predict up to a year in advance when hot ocean temperatures will raise the risk of whale entanglements. This lead time could allow state regulators, fishers and other businesses that depend on the fishery, as well as Californians hoping for a Dungeness crab holiday meal, to plan ahead for potential fishing restrictions. Ecological forecasts could help New England and maritime Canada, where highly endangered right whales are also getting entangled in fishing gear. “My personal opinion is that this is very, very helpful,” said Richard Ogg, a commercial fishing boat captain based in Bodega Bay. more, >>click to read<< 11:57

California’s commercial Dungeness crab season delayed yet again

California’s commercial Dungeness crab season has once again been delayed, officials from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced. Delays in the crabbing season have been implemented to protect humpback whales and leatherback sea turtles, protected species that are sometimes entangled in crabbing lines and gear. Years of repeated delays and the cancellation of this year’s salmon season have hurt Santa Cruz fishermen financially, says Tim Obert, local commercial fisherman and president of the Santa Cruz Commercial Fishermen’s Association. “This year’s crab season is going to be some of the first income for these boats since last year’s crab season closed,” said Obert, noting that he has economically relied on the black cod fishery this year, instead of the usual salmon and Dungeness crab mainstays. more, >>click to read<< 13:54

Dungeness Crab Season Delayed Again, This Time Until Mid-December

The Commercial Dungeness crab fishing season has been delayed again, this time due partly to poor meat quality found in samples, and due to humpback whales still migrating south. While hopes for Thanksgiving crab were already dashed a few weeks ago with the initial delay, a second delay in California’s commercial Dungeness crab fishing season has been called by the state fish and wildlife authorities. In a Friday announcement, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said that they would reevaluate the fishery on December 7 for a potential opening of the commercial season on December 16.  >>click to read<< 12:07

Fish and Game Commission Suspends and Terminates Fishing Privileges for Two Southern California Commercial Lobster Fishermen

During its Oct. 12 meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission adopted recommendations from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to revoke the commercial fishing licenses of two Southern California commercial fishermen, Michael Volaski and Arthur Esparza. CDFW recommended a five-year suspension of Volaski’s lobster operator permit and commercial fishing license. Volaski is a commercial lobster fisherman from Oxnard.  The revocation stems from a three-day hearing in front of an administrative law judge who listened to testimony from Volaski and CDFW regarding Volaski’s history of violations in the lobster fishery. >>click to read<< 09:53

California commercial Dungeness crab fishing season delayed

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced a delay in the season opener for California commercial Dungeness crab fishing off the Central and Southern Coast to protect whales from entanglement. The decision is based on a combination of excessive humpback whale entanglements in California Dungeness crab gear over the last three years and high numbers of recent humpback whale sightings off the central coast according to CDFW’s Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program criteria. Due to number of entanglements, NMFS is proposing to upgrade the California commercial Dungeness crab fishery to a Category I fishery,,, >>click to read<< 08:09

With salmon at risk of extinction, California begins urgent rescue effort

Typically, now is the time when creeks along the Sacramento River are filled with young spring-run Chinook salmon preparing to make their journey downstream to the Pacific Ocean, where they will mature, and eventually make their return to California spawning sites. This year, however, the salmon population has plummeted alarmingly—what officials call a “cohort collapse”—and biologists are taking urgent measures to save them from extinction. For the first time, biologists with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have begun capturing the juvenile spring-run salmon so that they can breed them in captivity, and hopefully prevent them from disappearing from the wild. For the first time, biologists with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have begun capturing the juvenile spring-run salmon so that they can breed them in captivity, and hopefully prevent them from disappearing from the wild. >>click to read<< 13:25

Bay Area commercial fishers struggling under weight of recent catch restrictions

Bay Area commercial fishers say they are facing unprecedented financial hardships this year after dealing with a range of restrictions on several of their key catches.  “I’m struggling to pay my bills. I’m definitely going to be in the red this year,” said William “Captain Smitty” Smith, who has commercially fished and run charters out of Half Moon Bay since 1985. Smith says he has been hit hard by the State’s decision to cancel salmon season off the coast for the first time in 14 years. “My overall business for the year, is down 90 percent,” said Smith. “The salmon is one of the major mainstays of this whole harbor. If you look across, every boat is here, every boat is tied up. These guys have got mortgages to pay, got bills to pay,” said Smith. Video, >>click to read<< 10:15

Del Norte Fishermen Are Pissed About Nearshore Groundfish Fishery Closure

Del Norte County fishermen say a California Department of Fish and Wildlife decision to close the nearshore groundfish fishery in the north part of the state starting next week could economically devastate the community. At least seven appeared before the local Fish and Game Advisory Commission on Monday, urging commissioners to send a letter to the agency as well as state representatives Mike McGuire and Jim Wood. The information CDFW scientists used to close the near-shore groundfish fishery comes from the recreational estimated catch of quillback rockfish as well as estimates from the commercial fishery within the Northern Groundfish Management Area, she said Tuesday. The Northern GMA stretches from about Cape Mendocino to the California-Oregon border. >click to read< 07:46

What Happened to California’s Salmon Season This Year?

This spring, fisheries’ managers closed the commercial and recreational salmon season off the coast of California, owing to cratering fish populations, for the first time since 2009. Every one of the few fish left from the generation of Chinook salmon currently swimming in the ocean are needed to return to their natal streams and spawn, managers decided. On the Capitol steps, Bates, Jackson-Reed and other tribal leaders and environmental activists charged that officials, and the Newsom administration in particular, are failing the people and species that benefit from the Sacramento River system by appeasing wealthy farms and other big water users. >click to read< 10:31

Dungeness crab fisherman from Half Moon Bay claims hefty fine ‘the most unfair thing’

Half Moon Bay commercial fisherman Paul Toste this week agreed to pay $17,000 in fines after state game wardens caught him fishing illegally for crabs in a marine preserve. But Toste, 52, claims he was unjustly persecuted and punished for a simple navigation mistake. “This was the most unfair thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Toste said. “The original fine was $610,000 — for 15 crab pots. They tortured me for nine months of negotiating. It was one of the most horrible things I went through.”  When he moved to the area 16 years ago, fishing was legal in what is now the reserve, he said. “They took that away from us,” he said. “We never were compensated for it, and then … I’m receiving a ticket for $610,000.” >click to read< 14:35


The California Department of Fish and Wildlife recently provided $17.5 million for the collaborative planning and implementation of three emergency projects that aim to restore critical salmon habitat, improve water management and make the Klamath Basin more resilient to climate change.  “I would like to thank California Governor Gavin Newsom and Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton Bonham for supporting our efforts to rebuild salmon runs on the Klamath River and its tributaries,” said Yurok Vice Chairman Frankie Myers. “I also want to acknowledge the diverse group of stakeholders working on these projects. Together, we are carving out a new path toward restoration in the Klamath Basin.”  >click to read< 09:25

For Whales and Crabbers, Finding Balance Is Getting Harder

In Dick Ogg’s 25 years of commercial fishing, he’s had a few close encounters with whales—mostly while pulling Dungeness crab pots off the ocean floor. “I’ve had whales right next to me,” within about five meters, says Ogg. “They follow me, they watch, they’re curious. And then they go on about their business.” Ogg is fortunate his interactions have been so leisurely. For nearly a decade, California’s whales and crabbers have been locked in a persistent struggle. From 1985 to 2014, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported an average of 10 whales were entangled in fishing gear each year along the west coast of the United States. >click to read< 07:53