The California Fish and Game Commission has rescheduled the meeting to determine the fate of fishing in state amidst the Coronavirus outbreak to Wednesday, April 15 at 10 am. The initial meeting held on April 9th was postponed due to a variety of problems, including technology and attendees who were disruptive in the virtual audience.
The California Fish and Game Commission will remotely meet to discuss delegating temporary authority to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to delay, suspend or restrict sport or recreational fishing if their director, in consultation with the president of the Commission, finds that such action is necessary to protect against the threat from COVID-19.
“We are very appreciative of the passion we heard from those that were able to join (the April 9) call. It is clear that the call volume was overwhelming and the technology wasn’t ready. We acknowledge that this is a challenge as we attempt to navigate new technology for meetings. We are frustrated by what happened and are looking for a remedy now. We understand that many members of the public and media were unable to join the call and because we also understand the importance to many of you, we need to ensure that you have an opportunity to provide input.
The Fish and Game has reached out to the public to ensure they aren’t attempting to close fishing in the state. Here is there statement regarding the potential decision in tomorrow’s meeting:
To address concerns, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife would like to confirm the following facts addressing county and tribal requests regarding recreational fishing during the current public health emergency.
• Neither CDFW nor the Fish and Game Commission has proposed a statewide closure of recreational fishing. Neither intends to do so.
• The proposal is based on formal requests from local counties to consider restrictions to address health and safety concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Link to the proposal: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx…
• Given the dynamic nature of this public health emergency, CDFW and the Commission simply seek a faster, streamlined ability to be responsive to local counties and Tribes.
• The proposal is specific and narrowly tailored. For a short time (only until May 31, 2020), CDFW would have an improved ability with limited authority from the Commission to respond to local counties and Tribes. This emergency regulation would expire far sooner than emergency regulations are typically effective (which is 180 days)
• The CDFW Director could only act in consultation with the Commission President, and only after considering public health and safety guidance from local and Tribal governments.
• After all those criteria, CDFW could temporarily suspend, restrict or delay sport (recreational) fishing. That’s it. Temporarily.
• If CDFW used this limited ability, it is required to report back to the Commission and the public in the Commission’s April and May 2020 meetings.
• This proposal is based on specific requests from counties concerned about the April 25, 2020 trout season opener, which is an annual event that typically draws many thousands of people to Inyo, Mono and other counties in the Eastern Sierra. This situation raises a legitimate concern at the local level regarding potential transmission of COVID-19 from outside areas, especially considering the limited health infrastructure in the small towns hosting these openers. Please see letters from Alpine, Inyo and Mono counties.
Alpine letter: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx…
Inyo letter: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx…
Mono letter: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx…
• If the Commission approves the emergency regulation for this limited effort, the CDFW Director has been clear that the focus is on being responsive to these three counties.
• It would be irresponsible for the CDFW and Commission to NOT be responsive to local needs in this public health emergency, where we must do all we can as Californians to help each other make it through this emergency together.
• CDFW has taken NO steps to limit any current hunting seasons nor would this regulation allow that.
• CDFW would act to reopen any suspended or delayed fishing seasons promptly, based on the same commitment to local, county and Tribal public health and safety input.
• Similar emergency ability during droughts has been in place since 2015 that also allows CDFW, in consultation with the Commission, to close fisheries based on environmental and fish population-based criteria. Since then, CDFW has only invoked one closure (Merced River) as the use of that authority is taken very seriously and only used as a last resort.
• The angling community has risen together before to do the right thing. We know that we can count on them now too.