Posts Tagged department of fish and game

Jul 5 2011

Fish and Game Commission Votes on Effective Date for South Coast MPAs

Media Contact:

Jordan Traverso, DFG Communications

The California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) today selected Oct. 1, 2011 as the effective date for implementation of the marine protected areas (MPAs) in Southern California.

In a 4-1 vote, Commissioners selected this day to better inform affected ocean users of the new regulations in the South Coast Study Region, which spans from Point Conception in Santa Barbara County to the U.S./Mexico border. Commissioner Daniel Richards was the only vote in opposition.

On Dec. 15, 2010 the Commission adopted regulations to create a suite of MPAs in this study region. Developed under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) planning process, this network of 49 MPAs and three special closures covers approximately 354 square miles of state waters and represents approximately 15 percent of the region. The regulatory package is being prepared for the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) and the date selected today allows time for OAL review and approval, finalizing the lawmaking process.

For more information on the south coast MPAs or MLPA, please visit


Jul 3 2011

Marine preservation proposal would allow Indian tribal harvests

By Matt Weiser
American Indian tribes on California’s North Coast will retain the right to harvest plants and wildlife for subsistence purposes under a plan for new marine preserves north of Fort Bragg.

The California Fish and Game Commission, meeting in Stockton on Wednesday, approved the subsistence gathering language as its preferred option for additional environmental study.

Though not yet final, it indicates a major shift in state policy toward coastal protection.

“I hope if one thing comes out of this process, it’s the beginning of long-term trust between sovereign tribal governments and the state of California,” said John Laird, secretary of the state’s Natural Resources Agency.

Read more here.

Mar 8 2011

Tribal Seas

State officials search for ways to respect marine habitats and native fishing rights



It’s been almost a dozen years since the California legislature approved the Marine Life Protection Act, a momentous piece of legislation designed to help coastal ecosystems rebound from decades of overfishing and ecological abuse. The Act was based on a model that’s proved effective elsewhere, including the oceans off New Zealand and the Great Barrier Reef, where fishing is limited or prohibited inside designated marine reserves. Establishing such a network of Marine Protected Areas here in California has been slow and tumultuous as virtually every resident with a toe in the Pacific has lodged objections to the process or the outcome or both.

The latest attempt to unravel the work done so far came last week when a group of southern California fishermen filed suit against the state Fish and Game Commission. The anglers argue that the MLPA work completed in their region last year should be nullified because the process violated the California Environmental Quality Act. Tensions between commercial fishermen and environmentalists have accompanied nearly every step of the MLPA initiative.

Read the rest of the story here.

Feb 3 2011

Marine protection act challenged in state court

Anglers want the plan voided

By Mike Lee

February 2, 2011

Ron Baker, a fishing boat captain out of Point Loma, is opposed to the state’s decision to expand marine protected areas: “It’s going to affect a lot of people, not just sportsfishermen.” Photo by K.C. Alfred

Making good on a pledge, angler advocacy groups have sued the California Fish and Game Commission in an attempt to invalidate a sweeping marine protection plan for Southern California that was adopted by the state in December and another set covering the north Central Coast.

United Anglers of Southern California, the Coastside Fishing Club and San Diego fishing activist Robert Fletcher filed the lawsuit late last week in San Diego Superior Court.

“We think that the process is flawed — they didn’t follow the regulations,” said John Riordan, treasurer for United Anglers. “It’s restricting access to recreational fishermen (and) ocean users.”

Read the rest of the story in the San Diego Union Tribune here.

Dec 18 2010

Commercial Market Squid Fishery Closes December 17

Based on landings information and projections, Department of Fish and Game (DFG) biologists expected that the season’s harvest limit of 118,000 short tons of market squid would be reached by Friday, December 17. The squid fishing season runs from April through the following March of each year, and the fishery closure will remain in effect through March 31, 2011. This is the first season the harvest limit has been attained since it was implemented by the Fish and Game Commission in 2004 as part of the California Market Squid Fishery Management Plan.

Squid fishermen and processors have assisted DFG in tracking daily catches this fall, as record squid abundance signaled the likelihood of reaching the harvest limit, established to ensure the squid fishery does not expand beyond levels experienced in the 1990s. “The wetfish industry and California Wetfish Producers Association (CWPA) are very pleased to partner with DFG to ensure a sustainable market squid resource and fishery,” says California Wetfish Producers Association Executive Director Diane Pleschner-Steele.

”The mission of the nonprofit CWPA is to facilitate collaborative research and management of our marine resources,” Pleschner-Steele explains.  “Our market squid research program predicted a good season this fall, but this has been truly amazing.”

Under the supervision of Dr. Doyle Hanan, retired DFG senior marine biologist supervisor formerly responsible for market squid and coastal pelagic fisheries, squid fishermen have learned how to tow scientific bongo nets to collect squid hatchlings, called paralarvae.  They time these field surveys to coincide with quarterly California Cooperative Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) oceanic research cruises.  Dr. Hanan has observed a correlation between increased paralarvae abundance and a productive fishery six- to nine months later.

(Learn more about CWPA’s market squid research program here.)

The presence of market squid is strongly correlated with environmental factors, such as water temperature and nutrient availability. In warm water years, such as during El Niño events, squid abundance drops sharply and landings decline. However, when water temperatures cool, even after severe warm water events, market squid numbers can rebound dramatically.

“Recent favorable environmental conditions generated the current surge in market squid abundance, says Dr. Hanan.  “The fact is there were plenty of adult squid and eggs produced to take advantage of these environmental conditions. This huge biomass has occurred while a squid fishery continued and a fishery management plan controlled fishing activities. From a fishery science and biological standpoint, this indicates that the management plan is indeed working.”

“We have had a banner year for market squid this year,” says Dale Sweetnam, DFG senior marine biologist who now oversees the commercial market squid fishery.  “In California, we have had squid landings from La Jolla to Half Moon Bay and reports that market squid are abundant off many of the offshore banks, the Channel Islands, as well as off Baja California.  The colder than normal water conditions we have observed since February have provided optimal conditions for squid spawning.”

According to the DFG News Release, market squid is by far California’s largest and most valuable commercial fishery. In 2009, just over 100,000 tons were landed with an ex-vessel value of $56.5 million. California market squid is used domestically for food – often identified as “calamari” in restaurants – and is an important international commodity. Last year, California fish businesses exported market squid to 36 countries with China the leading importer of California market squid.

The harvest limit is one of many provisions governing the squid fishery, which has been managed under the state’s Market Squid Fishery Management Plan (MSFMP) since 2005. The goals of the MSFMP are to ensure long-term conservation and sustainability of the market squid resource, reduce the potential for overfishing and provide a framework for management. In addition to the harvest limit, weekend closures were implemented to allow for periods of uninterrupted spawning each week.

The MSFMP was developed under the provisions set forth by California’s Marine Life Management Act (MLMA), which became law in 1999. The MLMA created state policies, goals and objectives to govern the conservation, sustainable use and restoration of California’s living marine resources.

(Read the entire DFG news release announcing the fishery closure here.)

Dec 18 2010

State panel approves creation of protected marine area off Southern California coast

December 15, 2010

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) — State wildlife regulators voted Wednesday to create a zone of protected areas off the Southern California coast where fishing and other activities will be restricted or banned.

The Fish and Game Commission listened to hours of public comment before approving the marine protected area along a 250-mile arc of coastline from the Mexican border to Santa Barbara County.

To comply with the state’s Marine Life Protection Act of 1999, California’s 1,100-mile coast was divided into five sections. Two protected areas were previously created in Northern and Central California. Southern California is the third area to undergo the process.

The establishment of such areas has been a particularly thorny issue in Southern California, where conservationists, fishermen and seaside business interests have collided.

The commission voted 3-2 in favor of the protected area. Supporters clapped when the vote was cast. Many had urged the panel to increase the size of the protected locations within the reserve.

The process appeared to have done little to quell opposition, even though the proposal has been in the works for two years and was aired at dozens of public hearings.

Fishing industry experts expressed concern about the survival of their industry. California Fisheries Coalition manager Vern Goehring and others predicted lawsuits.

“The public image or message that proponents are giving is this is a great thing protecting the ocean,” Goehring said. “But in reality, most people know if you regulate fishing — which is already regulated — it doesn’t do anything new about water quality, coastal development and other threats.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Aug 12 2010

Sardine Season Closed, but Fishing for Scientific Research Begins

The California Wetfish Producers Association (CWPA), a non-profit organization representing the state’s Wetfish industry, announced today it will launch its innovative sardine research project for the second year during the current closed fishing season.

This unique project, developed by independent scientific advisors and co-sponsored by the CWPA and the Northwest Sardine Survey LLC (NWSS), will document the volume of sardines extending from Canada to Southern California and provide a coast-wide, minimum estimate of sardine abundance.

“The scientific goal of our groundbreaking project is to photo-document and measure the schools of sardines extending the length of the Pacific coast, and ultimately to understand their migration patterns to ensure sustainability,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of CWPA.  “This aerial survey will dramatically increase our knowledge of the Pacific coast sardine population and could also improve future fishing opportunities, which have suffered greatly in recent years.”

Sardine Research Crew

The west coast sardine survey will include select fishermen with special “experimental fishing permits” and spotter planes that will fly and photograph transects at 15-mile intervals from Cape Flattery in Washington to Southern California.  The survey will be conducted in two stages: an aerial survey that encompasses 66 transects and a second

stage where after identifying individual sardine schools of various sizes, pilots will direct fishing vessels to encircle and wrap the schools with purse seine nets.  Pilots have aerial cameras mounted in the planes to document the process.  Each school will be weighed at the dock, biological samples will be taken, and the tonnage will be linked to the photographs.  Scientists will then use mathematical formulas to determine variance between and among schools, and then estimate sardine abundance.

Why the need for the survey?

According to government statistics, sardine stock assessments for the past three years have declined sharply, but many fishermen – especially in the Pacific Northwest – report massive schools of sardines, which they believe aren’t being accurately counted.  And since the estimated abundance of sardines determines the harvest quota set by fishery managers, those numbers must be as scientifically accurate as possible.

“We want to ensure a sustainable fishery, so we’re working with scientists and other organizations to develop more accurate information on sardine resources.  This new information will lead to improved fishery management decisions – good for the resource, and good for the fishermen,” continued Pleschner-Steele.  “It’s no accident that California sardines are considered a sustainable fishery, and have been given a ‘best choice’ green rating on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch list.”

“This is cutting edge fishery science and I’m very hopeful that this innovative program will continue into the future and will lead to a new way to assess the abundance of sardines,” said Dr. Doyle Hanan, a retired senior marine biologist supervisor from Department of Fish and Game, who will oversee the California portion of the project.

The fish caught during the research program will be harvested and packed at cost and sold, with proceeds going to offset the cost of the research program.  Results will be compiled and presented at a sardine stock assessment review panel in September and may be used to help determine the estimated abundance of the Pacific sardine resource and harvest guideline for 2011.