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THE FISH AND GAME COMMISSION
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State of California

THE FISH AND GAME COMMISSION

 

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Meeting of
October 2, 2003 (Thursday)
10:00 a.m.

City Council Chambers
City Hall
777 Cypress Avenue
Redding

ALL MEETINGS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

DISCUSSION ITEMS
1.

PUBLIC FORUM - Any member of the public may address and/or ask questions of the Commission relating to the implementation of its policies or any other matter within the jurisdiction of the Commission. As a general rule, action cannot be taken on issues not listed on the agenda. Staff will normally be requested to follow up on such items at the discretion of the Commission.

Deputy Attorney General read a letter received by the Commission from Mr. Ilson New regarding the permitting process for the conversion of spot prawn trawl permits to trap permits.

Executive Director Treanor read into the record a fax from Gordon Fox regarding his suggestions for moving forward with the spot prawn trawl permits to trap conversion process.

Steve Rebuck indicated that for the last 10 years he has served as the Abalone Technical Consultant to the Sea Otter Recovery Team and that he was recently asked to brief the US Congressional Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife & Oceans on the status of the Sea Otter Translocation project within the San Nicholas Island management zone. He provided the Commission with both a video and written copies of that testimony. He emphasized the importance of continuing zonal sea otter management in California and he noted that there are currently three species of abalone which could be rendered extinct if the sea otter population is not controlled in Southern California.

Karen Reyna provided the Commission with handouts and requested that the Commission take emergency action to close the squid fishery north of Pillar Point. She indicated that The Ocean Conservancy was notified last week that squid fishing was taking place near the Farallon Islands. She explained that historically, market squid have not been fished in this area and they are concerned about the threats to the marine mammals and birds which inhabit the Farallon Islands, many of which have varying levels of protection in California. She also explained that nocturnal birds have been affected by the bright squid boat lights, as observed by Dr. Pile, who also observed sea lions in nets in this area. She provided testimony from Great White Adventures, an expedition diving boat that is often in this area, which included pictures of sea lions that had been shot following the observation of light boats, testimony of an oily sheen on the water and a statement that there were no white shark encounters the entire time the fishing boats were present. She also provided a letter that discussed the disturbances to birds colonies that result from these squid boats. She noted that the further north these boats travel, the higher the risk of salmon bycatch. She requested that the Commission take emergency action to close this squid fishery and that a Marine Subcommittee meeting be held in Northern California before the next Commission meeting in November.

Eric Larson summarized the status of the squid fishery in Northern California, and indicated that the Department has been closely monitoring the activity around the Farallon Islands. He reported that the squid boats have recently stopped fishing in this area.

In response to a question, Executive Director Treanor explained that if there was a threat to the resources or general health and welfare issues, the Commission has the authority to take emergency action for the immediate conservation, preservation or protection of any birds, mammals, reptiles or fish including but not limited to any eggs or nests.

Commissioner Schuchat requested that this issue be added to the Commission's November meeting agenda. He indicated that the Marine Subcommittee would also address the issue at its next meeting.

Eric Larson responded that the Department would be able to provide the Commission with additional information on the fishery in question at the November Meeting.

James Davies asked the Commission for exception to the current mountain lion hunting laws. He explained that he would like to do a legal cougar hunt outside of California and would like to be allowed to bring the animal back into the state and have it mounted and donated to Simpson College as part of their art appreciation program. He provided the Commission with letters of support from the College.

Deputy Director Mastrup explained that the statutes adopted pursuant to Proposition 117, only the Legislature on a 4/5 vote has the authority change the law to permit this type of activity.

Dennis Fox stated that both water and wildlife issues are natural resources and should not be grouped with park issues. He suggested that ballot initiatives like Proposition 117, should include an environmental analysis along with fiscal analysis for public review.

Robert Ingles indicated that he had just received notice from the Department that the shallow nearshore rockfish fishery will be closed down the second week of November. He requested that the Commission re-allocate the catch between recreational and commercial fishermen back to the 80/20 split. He also questioned if the nearshore rockfish season would be open at all next year and if gopher fish could be removed from the shallow nearshore species list.

Eric Larson responded that this was a federal issue that should be addressed to the Pacific Fishery Management Council. He explained that this year salmon fishing was poor in this area, so the effort shifted from salmon to rockfish in early July. He noted that next year the Department has a provision to lengthen the season and when coupled with a productive salmon fishery, should provide increased fishing opportunity.

Richard Johnson discussed fishing regulations in the Sacramento River area, specifically just below Keswick Dam to Deschutes Road. He also indicated that he is actively involved in the management of a wildlife area on the Sacramento River where he has encountered fishermen who are unclear in their interpretation of the fishing regulations, so signs designed by the Department are now posted that explain the current fishing regulations. He stated that he has also witnessed regular poaching, which he believes occurs because the regulations are complex and difficult to enforce. He requested that the Commission simplify the current regulations regarding the area 650 feet below Keswick Dam to Deschutes Road, to allow for the taking of one trout under 16 inches long, year round. He also noted that the Shasta Fly Fishers would be happy to assist the Department in any way.

Deputy Director Mastrup indicated that the Department would look into this issue and report back to the Commission.

Bob Strickland indicated that he is discouraged by the lack of good data in regard to a possible surf perch fishery, and because the Department has indicated that they cannot allocate any of these fish to recreational fishing due to an expected shift in effort after the rock cod closure. He referred to his letter addressed to the Commission last month regarding the recreational monies that "subsidize" commercial fishing. He emphasized that if recreational fishing had this money, they could use it for surveys to get better data that could support recreational fisheries. He questioned if he should take his letter to the Legislature to have the fee schedule adjusted in that arena.

Vice President Chrisman asked Mr. Strickland what he though of the new CRFs data.

Mr. Strickland responded that he assumed that only the most heavily fished species would be surveyed, which would not benefit recreational fishing.

Commissioner Schuchat stated that though the fees associated with landing taxes and licenses for commercial fishing are not consistent, the Department is not giving money to commercial fishermen. He indicated that he is sympathetic to Mr. Strickland's concerns and has some ideas on possible solutions, but he cautioned Mr. Strickland that the Department is not supporting or subsidizing commercial fishermen.

Eric Larson explained the differences between MRFSS data and CRFS data. He indicated that the pilot program is currently being conducted and that CRFS will officially begin on January 1, 2004, and that Department will provide the Commission with an update at the November meeting.

Mr. Strickland noted that United Anglers in cooperation with NRDC has started a program to develop logbooks for small recreational boats for rock cod and they hope to have a pilot program by January.

Jim Bassler discussed the final stock assessment for cabezon. He pointed out that the commercial fishery caught their entire allocation in just a few months and the recreational fishery did equally as well, which indicates that there are lots of fish and the population is doing well. He indicated that a reallocation for shallow rockfish at this time would not be fair to the commercial fishery.

Vice President Chrisman questioned the current status of the burrowing owl petition.

Deputy Director Mastrup responded that the Department is currently reviewing the petition. He explained that the extremely wide distribution of this owl has caused the Department to evaluate the total threat to this population throughout its entire range. He indicated that the Department would present a final recommendation to the Commission at its November Meeting.

Commissioner Schuchat asked about the report on burrowing owls released by the USFWS.

Deputy Director Mastrup responded that the bulletin received from USFWS had stated that the burrowing owl had been identified as a non-threatened animal, due to its wide distribution, reproductive rate and coping ability.

Executive Director Treanor explained that in order for the Commission to consider this item at its November meeting, by statute they must receive the Department's recommendation 30 days prior to the meeting.

Deputy Director Mastrup clarified that the Department would be presenting its recommendation to the Commission in November, for consideration at its December meeting.

2.

COMMISSION STATUS REPORT ON IMPLEMENTATION OF ITS STRATEGIC PLAN.

Vice President Chrisman reported that this item is kept on the agenda to provide the public an opportunity to comment on its Strategic Plan. He reviewed the development of the plan and indicated that a formal review process would be commencing sometime this year, as needed to look for a funding source.

3.

REQUEST OF OJAI RAPTOR CENTER FOR COMMISSION APPROVAL TO WAIVE THE EDUCATOR/EXHIBITOR PERMIT FEE FOR RESIDENT RESTRICTED SPECIES.

Received Department's recommendation; Commission denied request.

4.

REQUEST OF DAN YOAKUM, ALBION, FOR COMMISSION APPROVAL OF AN EXPERIMENTAL FISHERY PERMIT FOR THE PURPOSES OF DEVELOPING A SQUID FISHERY IN THE AREA NORTH OF THE 39th PARALLEL LATITUDE LINE SPECIFICALLY FROM POINT ARENA TO CAPE MENDOCINO.

Received Mr. Yoakum's request; received Department's recommendation; received public testimony; Commission denied request and directed Department to develop an option for experimental fisheries in the draft squid Fisheries Management Plan (FMP).

5.

DEPARTMENT UPDATE ON PFMC ACTIONS AT ITS SEPTEMBER 8-12 MEETING.

Eric Larson provided a brief update on PFMC actions in regard to groundfish, noting that an OY of 250 tons for bocaccio was adopted and the bag limits for canary and yellow-eye rockfish had been reduced.

OTHER
6.

RECEIPT OF DEPARTMENT LEGISLATIVE REPORT.

Julie Oltmann provided a brief legislative report; received public testimony from Karen Reyna of The Ocean Conservancy requesting the Commission's support of SB 245. Commission unanimously directed staff to prepare letters of support for: SB 692, SB 245 and AB 396.

7. RECEIPT OF DEPARTMENT INFORMATIONAL ITEMS.
(A)

UPDATE ON DEPARTMENT'S BUDGET.

Deputy Director Mastrup reported on the Department's budget noting that he is expecting to hear from the Department of Finance any day on the proposed Department budget reduction proposal. Vice President Chrisman asked about the status of Department layoffs and Deputy Director Mastrup responded that approximately 200 Department employees had received notification, but no actual layoff notices have been sent at this time, again waiting for Department of Finance approval of its budget reduction plan.

  (B)

UPDATE ON MARINE LIFE PROTECTION ACT TIMELINE.

Eric Larson reported that there have been no changes as they have been waiting for an approved budget. He requested that this item be removed from the agenda until they receiving the funding to begin implementation.

  (C)

UPDATE ON DEPARTMENT MONITORING PLAN FOR THE CHANNEL ISLANDS MPAS, INCLUDING SOCIO-ECONOMIC STUDIES.

Eric Larson reported that they have begun subtidal and nonconsumptive use surveys to supplement existing data, and that discussions will continue with fishermen on their concerns with the regulations.

  (D)

UPDATE ON INTERPRETATION/ENFORCEMENT OF SECTION 8031 OF THE FISH AND GAME CODE.

Eric Larson reported that the Department must be able to prove that the fishermen are "processing" the sea cucumbers and that splitting the cucumbers is permitted as it is a function of preserving the catch. He noted that this "cleaning" action significantly reduces their weight so the Department needs to be able to equate that weight with landing weight.

  (E)

UPDATE ON ALDS.

Deputy Director Mastrup reported that the procurement planning phase has been completed and they remain on schedule for a fully deployed program in December 2005. He reported that vendor selection is scheduled for November, 2004, system design by December, 2004, the pilot program is scheduled for August 2005 and statewide deployment is scheduled for December, 2005. Executive Director Treanor noted that he had been in contact with several ALDS companies that have been involved with this process in other states, and they are willing to come to a Commission meeting to discuss details of having a program in place well before December 2005. The Commission requested Mr. Treanor invite several companies to provide a demonstration of their respective programs.

  (F)

UPDATE ON SPRING-RUN CHINOOK SALMON FISH KILL IN BUTTE CREEK.

Paul Ward presented the Department's report, indicating that this year approximately 70% of the population was lost to warm water temperatures and disease.

Allen Harthorn indicated that the Friends of Butte Creek is upset about the fish kill that has occurred in the last two years especially with the carcass counting techniques employed by the Department. He noted that the restoration process along Butte Creek has been extremely fragmented and it should be developed into a working group with more public input, and dedicated funding from CalFed. He explained that they would like to see the minimum flow requirement increased in the new phase of PG&E licensing. He noted that they have been collecting signatures that are requesting an improved process to restore Butte Creek which they have been forwarding to the Resources Secretary. He provided the Commission with pictures and written materials.

Vice President Chrisman asked what additional measures Friends of Butte Creek have been working on.

Allen Harthorn indicated that in 2000 they developed a watershed management strategy that the agencies have just let "sit on the shelf." He stated that money was definitely an issue in the facilitation of these restoration programs. He noted that there are many studies that need to be conducted to better understand the situation. He requested that the Commission support this project and request additional funding from the Resources Agency.

Don Koch reported that a few weeks ago, due to generator maintenance being conducted by Pacific Corps, the water supply was shut off at Iron Gate Hatchery and 40,000 chinook and 30,000 steelhead were lost. He explained that hatchery at the time was holding approximately 1 million chinook. He noted that Pacific Corps has been very cooperative with the investigation and in providing improved assistance to the facility.

8.
RECEIPT OF COMMISSION INFORMATIONAL ITEMS.
(A)
SUBCOMMITTEE REPORTS.

I.  MARINE SUBCOMMITTEE.

Executive Director Treanor reported that the Marine subcommittee meeting had been rescheduled for October 28, 2003, in Sacramento.

   

II. IAFWA MEETING IN MADISON, WISCONSIN.

Executive Director Treanor reported that he recently attended the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agency's annual meeting in Madison, Wisconsin. He explained that the meeting is similar to the Western Association Meeting though international in scope. He indicated that he participated in several subcommittee meetings as well as the business meeting as the only representative from California. He noted that he also participated in the CWD tour and explained that this disease has been a significant burden to Wisconsin. He reported that next year the meeting will be held in Atlantic City.

(B)

STAFF REPORTS.

No report.

9.

RECEIPT OF FEDERAL AGENCIES INFORMATIONAL ITEMS.

No report.

10.

RECEIPT OF LEGAL COUNSEL INFORMATIONAL ITEMS.

No report.