SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown signed an omnibus fishing bill into law, Sept. 30. The law updates various provisions of California fisheries, specifically those related to salmon, Dungeness crab and crab trap retrieval.
Senate Bill 1309, or SB 1309, “addresses a number of fisheries issues, including extending the sunset on a salmon program, revising the existing Dungeness crab trap retrieval program, requiring the Dungeness Crab Working Group to evaluate risks of marine life entanglements, and reopening certain areas to halibut trawling, among other things,” according to a legislative analysis.
The bill specifically extends a sunset provision for the Commercial Salmon Trollers Enhancement and Restoration Program to Jan. 1, 2029; the program was set to expire on Jan. 1, 2019.
SB 1309 also permits the take of anchovies in Humboldt Bay between May 1 and Dec. 1. There are no restrictions on area of use, under this new provision. Two separate 15-ton limits on take per year are replaced with a single 60-ton take limit.
The new law directs the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group to establish criteria and protocols for the evaluation of and response to potential risk of marine life entanglement in crab gear by Nov. 1, 2020.
Obsolete provisions governing trawl vessel permits have been deleted, thanks to Brown’s signing of SB 1309.
Monterey Bay and Port San Luis were also designated as two new areas for California halibut trawling grounds.
The Dungeness crab trap retrieval program, meanwhile, has been extended another 10 years to April 1, 2029 (with a repeal date set for Jan. 1, 2030).
SB 1309 is expected to cost about $1.1 million, mostly to coordinate the working group and administer new provisions associated with gear marking and the establishment of two new trawl grounds. The Department of Fish and Wildlife, or DFW, is expected to cover the budgetary costs associated with this bill.
The bill was opposed by Sportfishing Conservancy and supported by groups such as the Alliance of Communities for Sustainable Fisheries, Audubon California, Cloudburst Fishing Co., Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Association and The Nature Conservancy.