Tag Archives: Department of Fish and Wildlife

Assembly introduces bill to further restrict commercial fishing in California

A new bill introduced in the California State Assembly would significantly limit gillnet fishing in the state, and end trafficking of certain species of fish. Would require the Department of Fish and Wildlife to adopt and enforce regulations requiring any commercial fishing vessel operating with a validly issued permit from the State to have an independent third party on board the vessel when operating within the State fishery. The party’s observer will need to be taken. The bill also states that all incidental exceptions to the catch of giant sea bass and great white sharks would also. A complete ban will be imposed on commercial fishing of both these species. Finally, the use of gill nets and gill nets will be completely banned in all ocean waters off California beginning January 1, 2025. more, >>click to read<< 15:38

Fishing community rallying following fire at Ilwaco Landing

The fire at the Ilwaco Landing is likely to keep smoldering until Wednesday. However, the impact of the industrial fire could be felt in this fishing community for years. The fire destroyed several structures and more than 1,000 crab pots, according to Ilwaco Fire Chief Jeff Archer.“It’s a really big deal,” said George Pederson, skipper of the Judy S crab boat. “It’s the livelihood of the whole area.” He said crabbers from Washington, Oregon, and California are organizing donations to help crabbers get pots in the Pacific this year. Video, more, >>click to read<< 09:40

California’s Salmon Fishers Are Facing a Summer Without Salmon. Will They Get Federal Help?

On another day, Matt Juanes would have set out on the water long before sunrise. Juanes, an experienced salmon and crab fisherman who has worked out of Fisherman’s Wharf for over five years, is no stranger to the trade. Today, though, he would be chasing an unfamiliar catch for the first time: coonstripe shrimp. Juanes is one of hundreds of commercial fishers who dock along the Golden State coast and who would normally be out hunting mighty chinook or “king” salmon — the mainstay of California’s commercial salmon fishing industry. The first months of summer are typically a premier time for both salmon and salmon fishers. But this summer, California’s salmon fishing season is completely shut down for the first time in over a decade. Photos, >click to read< 09:40

Sea lions, seals might be hampering WA salmon recovery. What can be done?

State officials are now exploring whether to kill sea lions and seals in the Salish Sea and outer coast in a desperate effort to save salmon species from extinction. A new report commissioned by the state Legislature and completed by the Washington Academy of the Sciences says seals and sea lions are likely impeding salmon recovery, and the full impacts of predation on salmon may not be fully understood without lethal intervention. Three mammals specifically have skyrocketed. From 1975 to 2015, the harbor seal population in the Salish Sea exploded from about 6,000 to around 50,000. And California sea lions rose from 50,000 to somewhere around 300,000 on the West Coast of the U.S., according to the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. Populations of Steller’s sea lions living around Washington, Oregon and California steadily rose from an estimated 15,000 in 1982 to more than 43,000 in 2019. >click to read< 09:14

Restrictions lifted on beleaguered North Bay Dungeness crab fleet

The restrictions were imposed earlier this season to reduce the risk of marine animals becoming entangled in gear. Beginning this weekend, commercial crabbers south of Mendocino County can deploy 100% of their allotted crab pots, instead of operating at 50% reduction, as they have for the past two weeks. Extreme weather and rough seas proved an impediment this season, however, as have prices, which so far have kept the commercial fleet north of Sonoma County tied up at dock. Dick Ogg, vice president of the Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Marketing Association, was busy Thursday with his crew prepping gear on a rare clear day so they could try to fish this weekend. >click to read< 07:31

CDFW Announces Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery Closure Off Central California to Protect Humpbacks

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham has assessed entanglement risk under the Risk Assessment Mitigation Program (RAMP) and announced the closure of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery in Fishing Zones 3, 4, 5 and 6 (Sonoma/Mendocino county line to the U.S./Mexico border) effective at noon on April 8, 2022. This closure is being implemented because of two recent humpback whale entanglements that occurred off San Mateo County and in Monterey Bay involving California commercial Dungeness crab fishing gear. All commercial Dungeness crab traps must be removed from the fishing grounds by the April 8 closure date. >click to read< 16:55

Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishing Violations on the Rise

Since December 9, 2021, there have been five cases out of Crescent City and two out of Eureka regarding possession of undersize crabs by commercial crab fishermen. The most common violation during this period has been commercial harvest of undersized crabs. Commercial Dungeness crab fishermen are expected to measure their entire catch and keep only crabs that are equal to or greater than 6 ¼ inches, which is slightly more than the required 5 ¾ width required of recreational crabbers. There is a provision in the law to authorize possession of no more than one percent of the catch to be undersize. In all seven cases, citations were written, the loads were seized and the proceeds from the sales of the crab were directed to the Wildlife Preservation Fund until the cases can be adjudicated in court. >click to read< 15:20

CDFW Announces a Statewide Fleet Advisory for the Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is issuing a statewide fleet advisory for the commercial Dungeness crab fishery due to a recent humpback whale entanglement, approximately 5 miles west of Cypress Point near Monterey Bay (Fishing Zone 4). The entanglement was first reported in late January involving heavy line from unknown fishing gear and CDFW is encouraging the commercial fleet and all mariners to be on the lookout for any entangled whale in this area and across California waters. >click to read< 08:40

Shortened Dungeness crab season reflects industry uncertainty

Commercial crabbers have made quick work of this year’s Dungeness crab harvest, bringing substantially fewer crustaceans ashore with each lift. The haul has been so meager that even those who ply the waters south of Mendocino County,,, Closures and major catch restrictions in Alaskan crab fisheries, where king and snow crab stocks have plummeted, has heightened demand this winter for the Dungeness crab caught off Central and Northern California. “The thing that’s saving us is the price,” said Dick Ogg, “We’re down to two or three crabs per pot,” said Bodega Bay fisherman Tony Anello, one of many getting ready to pack it in. (Then the conversation of ropeless fishing begins,,,) >Click to read<Campaigners say ropeless technology could spare whales in the Firth of Forth >click to read< 09:28

California: New regulations shut down Commercial Dungeness Crab season early

After a particularly hard start to the season, commercial Dungeness crab fisheries closed several weeks early on June 1. June 7 marked the start of the Lost and Abandoned Gear Program, which incentivizes retrieving and turning in leftover fishing gear. Both the closure and the gear removal program aim to protect migrating humpback whales and other marine life from getting tangled in fishing equipment. The Center for Biological Diversity sued the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) after a fishing season with 71 whale entanglements in 2016. New regulations imposed after the settlement allow officials to shut down the season when the risk of whale or leatherback sea turtle entanglements is high. >click to read< 17:37

Spiny lobster comes back to San Diego

The rumored price prior to the season opening was $8 per pound, down from the 2019 average of about $20 and 2015’s high near $30. California Department of Fish and Wildlife data showed that spiny lobster was the most profitable local catch at $3.8 million in 2017. In 2018, it brought in $3 million, beating out bigeye tuna. When the pandemic started in China in late 2019, it coincided with the height of legal spiny lobster season in California. Sales in 2019 dropped to $1.8 million. Among San Diego’s top-grossing seafoods, spiny lobster saw the biggest decline. Said Halmay, “They [local fishermen] got together and decided, ‘We can’t make a living off that. Let’s do something about it.’” >click to read< 16:54

California king salmon rebounds after drought

Reeling in a fish “feels good every time,” but this year has been surprisingly good,,, Commercial salmon catches have surpassed official preseason forecasts by about 50%, said Kandice Morgenstern, a marine scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Harvests have been particularly strong in Morro Bay, Monterey and San Francisco, but weaker along California’s northern coast. This year’s adult salmon are the first class to benefit from record rainfall that filled California rivers and streams in early 2017, making it easier for juvenile chinook to migrate to the Pacific Ocean, where they grow into full-size fish. Photo’s, >click to read< 09:50

County board voices opposition to bill to end non-tribal gillnetting in Washington

Wahkiakum County commissioners on Tuesday agreed to contact the state senate to oppose legislation that would outlaw non-tribal gillnet commercial fisheries in Washington Jan. 1, 2023, and establish a buyout program for retiring licenses by Dec. 31, 2022. Proponents say gillnets are non-selective gear that ensnare wild and endangered salmon and with other species, they are not a good management, and they adversely impact the recreational fishing industry. Senate Bill 5617 would also establish a three-tier program to buy out gillnetters’ licenses from willing sellers.,,, >Click to read<11:01

Halibut trial verdict: Gudgell brothers convicted of 18 fishing violations

After about three hours of deliberation, a six-person jury on Feb. 28 convicted charter boat operators Robert and David Gudgell of a total of 18 of 29 alleged fishing violations. The decision came after an eight-day trial in South District Court, in which more than 20 witnesses testified. The brothers work for Pacific Salmon Charters, an Ilwaco charter company owned by their parents, Milt and Sarah Gudgell. >click to read<10:47

California shifts water from farms, cities to fish.

Despite an epic last-minute compromise brokered by Gov. Jerry Brown, state water regulators voted Wednesday to reallocate billions of gallons of San Joaquin River water from farms and cities to revive struggling fish populations. After hours of testimony, the State Water Resources Control board voted to deliver hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water from the San Joaquin watershed to salmon, steelhead and other species that ply the fragile Delta. The vote will eventually take water from Valley farmers, who have blasted the plan as a “water grab,” as well as cities such as Modesto and San Francisco. >click to read<09:52

Department of Fish and Wildlife employee in Southwest Washington allegedly stole $80,000 worth of fuel

A Southwest Washington employee of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife has been fired after the agency alleged that he stole more than $80,000 in fuel. The Cowlitz County Prosecutor is reviewing the case for charging here. Bob Woodard, 47, had worked for the department for approximately 25 years and was an IT specialist in the Southwest Washington region. Public affairs director Bruce Botka said an internal investigation found Woodard had used multiple fuel cards given to different employees to make fraudulent purchases starting in 2010. Woodard was fired in early December. >click to read< 10:22

More Atlantic salmon coming to Puget Sound despite objections

The company that spilled thousands of invasive salmon into Puget Sound is sending 1 million more into local pens despite objections from state officials. “We are very concerned about Cooke Aquaculture’s plan to transfer up to 1 million Atlantic salmon smolts to a in Clam Bay across from Bainbridge Island. This is disappointing and frustrating, coming on the heels of the August collapse of Cooke’s net pen near Cypress Island that held 305,000 fish,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee said. click here to read the story 10:15

State gives OK to new salmon farm permit – The state found, however, that Fish and Wildlife didn’t have the authority to deny a permit to transfer fish into an existing pen, according to the joint release from Inslee and Franz. click here to read the story 10:42

Commercial Fishers and Fish Sellers Affected by the 2015 Refugio State Beach Oil Spill in California are Part of Class Action Lawsuit

Notice has been issued to Fishers and Fish processing businesses confirming that their claims are now part of a class action that has been certified by the United States District Court. Information has been mailed to each identified class members and additional information is available on-line, through various trade associations, and various publications. The Class Action arises from the May 15, 2015 rupture of a corroded underground pipeline owned by Texas-based Plains All American near Refugio Beach. As a result of the spill, the Department of Fish and Wildlife imposed a ban on fishing in a 138-square-mile zone from Gaviota State Beach to Isla Vista. click here to read the press release 09:24

North Coast seasonal crab haul above average

North Coast crabbers are set to end this year’s crab season Saturday on a high note after bringing in an above average haul of more than 11 million pounds of Dungeness crab worth $34 million between November and June, according to preliminary state data. “This is sort of an upswing in landings for that area,” Department of Fish and Wildlife environmental scientist Christy Juhasz said Friday. “Overall, it’s a good season.” The 10-year average haul for the North Coast is about 8.7 million pounds, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Juhasz said the final landing data will likely increase by a few hundred thousand over the coming weeks as more data is collected.  click here to read the story 08:30

Sonoma Coast Dungeness crab season delayed

crabber-dick-ogg-bodega-bayThousands of crab traps, stacked six feet or higher, line the sides of Westshore Road surrounding the Spud Point Marina, a clear indication this year’s commercial Dungeness crab season along the North Coast is off to another rocky start. “Look at what’s happening at Spud Point — there’s probably 10,000 pots sitting out there. Those are guys who aren’t going out,” said Charlie Beck, a Bodega Bay fisherman who has been crabbing in the waters off the Sonoma Coast nearly 40 years. “Our small fishing fleet is getting destroyed. Last year was the worst season that we’ve ever seen, and this year it’s looking pretty bleak, especially for the smaller boats.” State health officials last week recommended an indefinite delay for Dungeness along a 180-mile stretch of coastal waters along Northern California, from Point Reyes in Marin County to Humboldt Bay in Mendocino County, dealing another blow to the North Coast’s lucrative wintertime crabbing season following last year’s 4½-month delay. Read the story here with 12 images 10:01

State of California officials optimistic for crab season: Coast Guard to begin safety inspections

dungenesscrabThe upcoming Dungeness crab season appears to be headed in a good direction and authorities are reminding fishermen to begin checking their safety equipment in preparation for the season, according to the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Coast Guard. Coast Guard officials are set to being inspecting crab-fishing vessels next month on Nov. 8, 9 and 10 at commercial fishing ports from Monterey to Crescent City. The safety checks are part of the Coast Guard’s Operation Safe Crab, an outreach initiative intended to reduce fatalities and accidents during the season. During the safety checks, Coast Guard personnel check vessels for the required lifesaving equipment, pot-loading practices affecting stability and vessel watertight integrity, according to the Coast Guard. Commercial crab fishing is an inherently dangerous job and West Coast crabbing vessels reportedly have a high fatality rate, Coast Guard officials said. Read the story here 08:32

Delayed Dungeness crab season sinks catch, sales for California fishermen

A historic delay in the 2015-16 Dungeness crab season reduced statewide commercial landings by more than a third this year and cut into gross sales off the boat by about 44 percent, according to preliminary figures from the state. Bodega Bay, one of nine key commercial ports between Morro Bay and Crescent City, mirrored the sharp statewide downturn, with Dungeness landings down 37 percent from the previous season, to 1.8 million pounds, according to early calculations. The figures, from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, offer the first postseason look at a grim year for the normally lucrative commercial Dungeness fishery — the state’s second-most valuable, worth about $60 million in most years. Gross sales last season for the crab fleet topped $33 million, about 45 percent of the 5-year average, according to state Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, chairman of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture. Read the story here 19:56

California’s confidential fishing rights leave millions of dollars in mystery.

Over years of writing about and working in the fishing industry, I (Nick Rahaim) have often found it difficult to substantiate many things told to me – often as gospel – on fishing boats and in salty bars. Many of those stories aren’t of much consequence – that most fishermen found dead in the water have their fly unzipped, or that whistling in the wheelhouse will blow up a storm. But another story represented enough potential injustice that I had to learn more. A year ago, while working as a fisherman and freelance journalist in Alaska, I heard California seafood companies that buy and sell product were buying up squid permits – permanent fishing rights, limited in number, bought and sold on a market – from independent fishermen. The implication: They were trying to corner the market, creating squid cartels where they could control prices paid to fishermen, causing ripples down the supply chain to the consumer. (More on the system of fishing rights later.) Read the story here 10:45

Humboldt commercial crab season to open, but with an exception

dungenesscrabPress release from Department of Fish and Wildlife: 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. Read the rest here 21:28

Talks break down again between state, tribes to develop a joint plan for Puget Sound salmon fisheries

NOAA-LogoState and tribal fishery officials are again at an impasse over efforts , and it is uncertain when — or even if — a new season might open this year for sport anglers and nontribal, commercial fishermen. The talks this year have been complicated by forecasts for extremely poor returns of wild coho, which require harvest cuts to protect the weak runs. Rather than submit a joint plan for federal approval as in years past, both state and tribal officials now say they plan to submit separate management plans to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Fisheries. Tribal officials expect they could,,, Read the rest here 10:53

Oregon eyes Cathlamet Channel as gillnet site

State officials are hopeful they can open a second lower Columbia River off-channel commercial fishing location in 2016, this one in Cathlamet Channel of Wahkiakum County. Establishing additional off-channel commercial fishing areas, where gillnets can be used, is a key component of the Columbia River fishing reforms adopted by the Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife commission in 2013. Oregon has off-channel sites in Youngs Bay, Blind Slough-Knappa Slough and Tongue Point-South Channel, while Washington’s only site is in Deep River, a location which works for coho, but not well for chinook. Read the rest here 15:07

Court taking another look at higher commercial fishing fees for nonresidents

The state will get another chance to defend its former practice of charging nonresidents two to three times as much as Californians for commercial fishing licenses. A panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled 2-1 in September that the California laws discriminated unconstitutionally against nonresidents by making it harder for them to pursue their occupation. But on Friday, the court said a majority of its judges had granted the state’s request to refer the case to an 11-judge panel for a new hearing. Read the rest here 20:42

Sidetracked salmon rescued, released into Sacramento River

Operation Salmon RescueOperation Salmon Rescue is in full swing in Yolo County, where hundreds of the endangered fish are getting a second shot at life. Since as early as this past September, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife has teamed up with both local and regional organizations to capture hordes of fully grown along the Colusa Basin Drain in the Yolo Bypass, who have strayed from their natural migration patterns into dead-end drainage canals. Read the article here 08:21

California delays opening of crab season amid toxic scare

dungenesscrabThe California Fish and Game Commission voted Thursday to delay opening of the crab-fishing season as officials scramble to deal with a coastal algae bloom that’s left Dungeness crabs with a potentially fatal toxin called domoic acid. Meeting by conference call, the commission voted 3-0 to delay the recreational crabbing season, which was supposed to begin Saturday. The opening of the commercial crab fishing, which is supposed to open Nov. 15, is up to the director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Read the rest here 12:41

Four men charged in Anacortes crab poaching case

dungenesscrabFour Anacortes men are facing criminal charges in an illegal crabbing case the state Department of Fish & Wildlife has been investigating for months. In mid-April, Fish & Wildlife authorities seized property believed to be connected to the case from multiple homes in the city.  They are accused of organizing crab poaching in Similk Bay. According to a Fish & Wildlife probable cause record, 38-year-old Ricky Lee Guttormson, 24-year-old Hank Berent Knutson, 19-year-old Logan Allan Eby and 45-year-old James Emmett Montour were involved in harvesting and selling Dungeness crab to undercover officers. Read the rest here 17:07