Religious Live Fish Releases

Channel catfish (Photo by Dennis McKinney, CDOW)

Channel catfish (Photo by Dennis McKinney, CDOW)

Question: I am looking for a place/beach to release live fish. Our religion says it is very good to release a live fish because you save a life and also you learn to be merciful to all of the lives in the world. I live in Orange County, but any places/beaches in Los Angeles or Orange County works for us. We have friends who get permission in Europe to do this. The government allows them to release only certain fish species in specific areas only. (Joo Pheng, Ooi)

Answer: What you are proposing cannot be authorized in California, even for religious purposes. It is illegal to transport live finfish as well as to release live finfish into waters different from where taken.

According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Marine Aquaculture Coordinator Kirsten Ramey, prayer animal release can pose a serious risk to natural resources and society through the introduction of non-native and/or invasive species. California currently faces a variety of significant and lasting impacts from introductions of non-native and invasive species in both fresh and coastal waters. Just a few of these impacts include reduced diversity and abundance of native plants and animals (due to competition, predation, parasitism, genetic dilution, introduction of pathogens, smother and loss of habitat to invasive species), threats to public health and safety (via parasites and disease) and increased costs to business, agriculture, landowners and government (for invasive pest treatment and clean up).

One of California’s costly introductions was attributed to the aquarium trade, based on DNA evidence. Caulerpa taxifoli, an invasive algae originally from the Mediterranean Sea, has cost California more than $6 million to eradicate.

In terms of ecological impacts, the introduction of invasive species is thought to be second only to habitat loss in contributing to declining native biodiversity throughout the United States. California has been invaded by many aquatic plants and animals which have altered native ecosystems and taken a toll on recreation, commercial fishing and sensitive native species. For these reasons and more, it is unlawful to place, plant or cause to be placed or planted, in any of the waters of this state, any live fish, any fresh or salt water animal, or any aquatic plant, whether taken without or within the state, without first securing the written permission from CDFW (Fish and Game Code, section 6400).

Since releasing fish into public waters is not legal, here are a couple of other options. You could get involved with CDFW’s Trout in the Classroom program in which instructors and their students set up an aquarium in the classroom to raise fish for an eventual field trip to an approved local stream or river where the fish are released.

Another option might be to contact one of the registered aquaculture farms found on CDFW’s Aquaculture website. These businesses raise different species of fish and have private stocking permits allowing them to plant fish in approved private waters within the state. Perhaps one of these businesses will allow you to assist and plant one of the fish they will be stocking. Good luck!


Using black or blue rockfish for lingcod bait?
Question: Can one use black or blue rock fish as bait to catch lingcod? I have seen people do this but I believe you cannot since rockfish are considered to be a game fish. (John C., Roseville)

Answer: Yes, anglers can take black or blue rockfish that they have caught to send back down on a hook to catch lingcod. However, while those two species do not have minimum size limits, any legal rockfish you use as bait count toward your daily bag limit of rockfish.


License required for a nuisance coyote?
Question: Does someone need a hunting license to shoot a nuisance coyote on their property, or near their property, if they are the legal distance away from a residence to discharge a firearm? (Carol S.)

Answer: Coyotes are classified as nongame mammals in the Fish and Game Code (FGC) and if found to be “injuring growing crops or other property” (FGC section 4152), they can be taken on your property without obtaining a hunting license. However, if a coyote is NOT injuring your property, you will need to obtain a hunting license before taking it (FGC section 3007). Before you do anything though, you should first check with your local Sheriff’s department regarding any city, county, municipality laws and regulations that may apply to be sure this will be legal to do in your area.


Fish and game regulation of groundfish
Question: Current fish and game regulations limit the fishing depth for groundfish in Southern California to 60 fathoms or 360 feet. I need to know how far from the shore line this depth limitation is enforced. I saw from another link on your website that the State of California’s fishing jurisdiction only goes out to three miles from shore. (James J.)

Answer: The depth limit is enforced out to 200 nautical miles from shore. Groundfish are jointly managed by the states and federal government, and the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) extends from California’s three nautical mile state waters boundary out 200 nautical miles. CDFW is authorized to enforce California laws throughout the EEZ regarding individuals and vessels operating out of California ports. CDFW wildlife officers have also been delegated authority to enforce several federal laws in the EEZ. Also, keep in mind that depth limits may differ depending upon which groundfish management area you are fishing in.

# # #

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s