At its February 2019 meeting in Sacramento, the California Fish and Game Commission took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources.
The Commission accepted a petition to list Upper Klamath-Trinity River Spring Chinook Salmon as endangered, setting into motion a status review to be completed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).
The petitioners, the Karuk Tribe and Salmon River Restoration Council, submitted information suggesting declining population trends and a low abundance, making this stock of salmon vulnerable to extinction. The Commission action results in Spring Chinook Salmon being designated as a Candidate Species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), which provides Candidate Species the same protections as species listed as endangered and threatened under CESA.
CDFW also requested the Commission adopt emergency fishing regulations necessary to reconcile them with the CESA protections. CDFW will also be in consultation with federal regulatory bodies concerning ocean fishing regulations.
Acceptance of the petition triggers a one-year status review by CDFW to determine if a CESA listing by the Commission may be warranted. CDFW, after review of the best scientific information available, will make a recommendation to the Commission on whether to list Spring Chinook Salmon as either endangered or threatened, or that listing is not warranted at this time.
The following inland salmon fishing closures were approved by the Commission through the emergency regulations. Klamath River main stem from the mouth of the river to Iron Gate dam, closed to salmon fishing from the anticipated effective date of Feb. 22 (subject to approval from the Office of Administrative Law) to Aug. 14. Trinity River main stem from its confluence to the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat, closed to salmon fishing from the anticipated effective date of Feb. 22 (subject to OAL approval) to Aug. 31.
Also, Trinity River main stem from upstream of the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat to Old Lewiston Bridge, closed to salmon fishing from the anticipated effective date of Feb. 22 (subject to OAL approval) to Oct. 15.
Fishing for Upper Klamath-Trinity River Fall Chinook Salmon will be allowed in these areas after the closure dates listed above. Quotas and bag and possession limits for Fall Chinook Salmon will be adopted by the Commission in May of this year. Steelhead fishing will be allowed year-round with normal bag and possession limits.
Along with its adoption of the emergency regulations, the Commission also directed CDFW to work with stakeholders, including affected counties, fishing organizations, Tribes and conservation groups, to investigate options to allow some Spring Chinook Salmon fishing in 2019. Under Section of 2084 of Fish and Game Code, the Commission can consider hook-and-line recreational fishing on a Candidate Species. CDFW will present the results of that stakeholder collaboration and potential options using Section 2084 at the Commission’s next public meeting, which will be held April 17 in Santa Monica.
The public may keep track of the quota status of open and closed sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers by calling the information hotline at (800) 564-6479.
Additional information can be found in the “2018-2019 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations” and the “2018-2019 California Supplement Sport Fishing Regulations.”
The Commission also voted to re-elect Commissioner Eric Sklar as president and Commissioner Jacque Hostler-Carmesin as vice president. In addition to Sklar and Hostler-Carmesin, Commissioners Russell Burns and Peter Silva were present. One seat is vacant.
The full Commission agenda, supporting information and a schedule of upcoming meetings are available at www.fgc.ca.gov.
The California Fish and Game Commission was the first wildlife conservation agency in the United States, predating even the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries. There is often confusion about the distinction between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Commission. In the most basic terms, CDFW implements and enforces the regulations set by the Commission, as well as provides biological data and expertise to inform the Commission’s decision-making process.