Is Boat Captain Responsible for Illegal Acts of Passengers?

Private boatQuestion: A friend of mine took some of his friends’ parents on his boat to go rock picking for abalone. Unknown to my friend, some of the parents picked extra abs and chose the biggest three of the lot to keep. It was clearly illegal and they were cited when they got back to the docks.

Since my friend was just transporting people out to the spot where they could find abalone, was he responsible for what they did once they got off his boat after rock picking? He doesn’t want his boat blacklisted. (Craig)

Answer: Typically, someone in your friend’s situation would not be cited for the violations of the passengers, especially if there is no question of who possessed the abalone. However, if the passengers claimed the abalone were not theirs, or if there were overlimits on board, an officer could cite everyone on the boat for jointly possessing the abalone. In this case, each person who violated the law was responsible for their specific violation. As far as the boat being “blacklisted,” the warden who made the case may pay special attention to this boat in the future because of the actions that took place in the past.

The best advice for your friend is to be educated on the fishing laws that pertain to the activity his passengers are engaging in, and to share this knowledge with the people on his boat.


What’s my recourse for wasted game citation?
Question: Yesterday I was cited for wasted game. My son and I were hunting Eurasian dove at a local feed lot in Southern California. I was approached by the wardens who did all of the normal checks, told us they were watching us from afar, then asked us if we had dropped any birds we didn’t retrieve. I said yes, one in a stagnant pond and one in amongst a herd of cows, which I tried to retrieve but the bird was wounded and flopped away into another pen. He asked why I didn’t retrieve it and I told him I’m broke (bad knees) and couldn’t get through the nasty stuff in the pens. I then sent my son in to push his way through the cows and he retrieved the bird for me in front of the warden. The warden checked to see that it was a Euro, which it was, I put it in my game bag and he still cited me for it. What if any recourse do I have when I go to court? (Jim R., Lake Elsinore)

Answer: Just tell the judge your story. However, since you shot these birds without making sure you were doing so in a location where you could retrieve them, and because your intention had been to let them lay where they landed because they were too difficult to go after, you did intend to leave them where they ended up … that’s “wanton waste” or “wasted game.”


Using a pressure washer to dig up clams?
Question: Can I use a pressure washer to dig geoduck and/or gaper clams? (Vuong M.)

Answer: No. Clams may be taken only on hook and line or with the hands. The only special provisions allowed are for the use of spades, shovels, hoes, rakes or other appliances operated by hand, except spears or gaff hooks (CCR Title 14, sections 29.10(a) and 29.20(c)). Pressure washers are not a legal method of take for mollusks.


Capture and keep rattlesnakes as pets?
Question: Is it legal to capture and keep rattlesnakes as a pet? I know it’s not smart, but is it legal? (Phil C.)

Answer: Yes, except for the red diamond rattlesnake where no take is allowed – so be sure you can identify your snakes! Before collecting anything, you should first check with your local animal control agency and police or sheriff regarding whether any local ordinances apply in your area. Under state law, all pit vipers (except for the five other California native rattlesnakes listed in California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 671(c)(7)(E)) are restricted species that may not be possessed without a permit. Keeping live, native rattlesnakes (except for the red diamond) is not prohibited by Fish and Game laws. No license is required to take or kill other rattlesnakes in California, but the daily bag and possession limit is two. The take of other species of reptiles and amphibians for pets requires possession of a sport fishing license. The daily bag and possession limits are provided in CCR Title 14, sections 5.05 and 5.60. And if you live with the city limits, you might want to check your city ordinances to determine whether possession of a venomous reptile is allowed.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

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