Tag Archives: aquaculture

Antibiotics in Hatchery Fish?

Trout planting_CDFWQuestion: I would like to fish at a local stocked pond. Do the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) fish that are stocked there have antibiotics in their systems? Are they fed antibiotics on a routine basis or even on an occasional basis? I just want to be sure any fish I’m catching will be safe to eat. (Connie S., Big Pine)

Answer: CDFW hatchery fish are treated with antibiotics when it is necessary to save their lives. According to Dr. William Cox, CDFW Program Manager of Fish Production and Distribution, this is done on an as-needed basis and using only antibiotics that are approved and registered by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for diseases listed on the label and in fish species approved. This is all done under veterinary prescriptions by CDFW veterinarians. To be approved by the FDA, there are many hurdles to prove human food safety, animal safety and environmental safety. These are all met in the process of becoming registered. So to answer your basic question, none of CDFW’s stocked fish have antibiotics when they are stocked for anglers. They are perfectly safe to eat.

Steel shot for chukars
Question: A friend told me that we are now required to use steel shot when hunting chukars (Red-legged Partridge). Is this a new regulation? Since these are introduced non-native birds, why shouldn’t they be treated similar to the Eurasian doves? Please let me know because I would not want to get a ticket. (Chris J.)

Answer: As you may know, we are in the middle of a transition to nonlead ammunition for all hunting in California. As of July 1, 2016, nonlead ammunition is now required for all hunting on CDFW wildlife areas and ecological reserves and when taking upland game birds with a shotgun, except for dove, quail, snipe and any game birds taken on licensed game bird clubs. In addition, nonlead shot is required when using a shotgun to take resident small game mammals, furbearing mammals, nongame mammals, nongame birds and any wildlife under the authority of a CDFW depredation permit.

In regards specifically to chukar (which are related to Red-legged Partridge but a different species), you are required to use nonlead shot when hunting them with a shotgun from this season on unless you are hunting at a licensed game bird club.

According to CDFW Upland Game Bird Senior Environmental Scientist Karen Fothergill, there is no species-related or ecological reason for the manner in which we are phasing-out lead ammunition. Rather, in order to implement the nonlead legislation in a way that is least disruptive to hunters, we coordinated question and answer sessions at sportsmen’s shows, held meetings with hunting organizations, hosted a series of public workshops throughout the state and sent letters to major ammunition manufacturers before we finalized the implementation plan.

For more information on the laws and phase-out of lead ammunition in California, please visit our website.

Filleting sheephead at sea
Question: I was recently told that I could not fillet a sheephead aboard my vessel since they do not have a minimum fillet length but do have a size limit of 12 inches (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.65).

My question is whether it still applies for a large sheephead if the fillet was longer than the 12-inch size limit? I am assuming the reason for not allowing sheephead to be filleted aboard a vessel is because it is difficult to determine the overall size of the fish from the fillet. However, if the fillet is greater than the minimum size limit for the species, it would seem like there should be some type of exception to the no fillet rule, or perhaps there is another reason I’m not considering?

Answer: Only those species listed as allowed to be filleted may be filleted on a vessel. Since California sheephead have a minimum size limit of 12 inches total length but no fillet length specified in the regulations, they may not be filleted while on any boat or brought ashore as fillets, steaks or chunks (CCR Title 14, section 27.65).

If you think this regulation for California sheephead should be revised to allow for a minimum fillet length allowance, you are welcome to bring a proposal before the California Fish and Game Commission for consideration.

Use of blue tarp with decoys
Question: Can I use a blue tarp and place dove decoys around it? I’m hoping the doves will think the blue tarp is water and will be attracted to fly over or land near the decoys. (Anonymous)

Answer: Sure, you can give it a try!

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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.

Gaffing Undersized Shark That’s Biting My Thumb?

Angel Shark (Photo by CDFW Environmental Scientist Derek Stein)

Angel Shark at Santa Barbara Island (Photo by CDFW Environmental Scientist Derek Stein)

Question: I recently went fishing with a friend and hooked into a 4-foot angel shark (which I had mistaken for a large skate). When I got it close to the boat, I reached down to unhook it and release it (still not thinking it was a shark). As I got close to its mouth it thrashed around and bit my thumb pretty good (suddenly I realized I was in the jaws of a shark). The shark wouldn’t release my thumb, and me being in the boat and it still in the water, the only thing I could think of doing at that moment was to gaff it and bring it on board the boat. When I gaffed it we got it on the boat, my friend held it down and used a screwdriver to pry its mouth open. By this time the shark had lost a lot of blood.

The law says it has to be 72 inches and 100 lbs. The shark died and I was wondering if we violated any laws given that it died while we were trying to save my thumb? In this situation, if we didn’t violate any laws could we have kept the dead shark? Please let me know or put me in touch with someone who can answer this question. Thank you very much for your time. (Sean O.)

Answer: Sorry about your thumb, but there are no size or weight limit restrictions for angel sharks. Gaffs may be used to assist in landing any fish that is legal to take and of legal size, but gaffs are not a legal method of take for sharks or any other species. In a case like this where it sounds like your personal safety (thumb) was an issue, you can use whatever means necessary to ensure your safety. Afterwards, when the immediate threat is over, you must abide by current rules and regulations. If the species or size is illegal, you may not possess it. And as in this case, if you caught the shark illegally, you must release it, dead or alive.

Hunting ducks on mountain lakes?
Question: I have always wondered if it was legal to hunt some of the smaller lakes in the Sierra and foothills bordering forest service land. As long as one follows the standard waterfowl protocol, would it be legal? (Derek C.)

Answer: Yes, it would be legal to hunt waterfowl on the lake so long as you are not trespassing on private property or violating some other law such as shooting too close to an occupied dwelling.

Trail cameras – baiting vs attracting?
Question: I want to set a trail camera out on public lands like the National Forests in California and attract wildlife to it. Can I use scents or baits to attract the wildlife for photography reasons only? I’m not hunting in the area. Example would be putting a commercially sold scent on a log or the ground by the trail cameras. What about an apple, salt lick or chunk of chicken? When is a permit needed for trail camera photography on public land? If I have a California trapper license or hunting license, would it make a difference? The intent is still to modify the animals’ behavior for a photo, and that seems to be the issue. (Anonymous)

Answer: Yes, that is the issue. Intentional acts that disrupt any birds’ or mammals’ normal behavior patterns (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251.1) or feeding big game mammals (CCR Title 14, section 251.3) is prohibited.

Even if you are not intending to draw an animal in for the purpose of hunting, putting out any type of attractant still falls under the definition of baiting. The definition of “baited area” can be found in the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 257.5. And under this regulation, the use of any substance (real or artificial) that is capable of attracting an animal to an area, and when used causes the animal to feed (on the substance), is prohibited. Generally, aerosols sprayed into the air are permissible because there is nothing to feed on. But the same products applied to a surface (e.g. tree, brush, rock, etc.) where the animal licks, eats, chews, nibbles, etc. the surface is considered feed and is a violation.

Will CDFW plant fish in private duck club pond?
Question: A pond on our private duck hunting property was accidentally drained in the last year but we will refill it as soon as we can get more water. At that point, can we have the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) replant it with fish? (Fishingdude)

Answer: No, CDFW will only plant fish in public waters that are open and available to the public to enjoy. If this is a private pond, you will need to get a private stocking permit from CDFW and then buy fish from a commercial fish farm, which may also stock them for you.

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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.

Releasing Sea Creatures Back to the Wild?

DFG photo

Question: Instead of taking life by the act of fishing or eating sea creatures, I want to save the lives of those creatures from seafood markets that are about to be killed for food by buying them and releasing them back to the ocean. Please let me know what kind of live sea creatures (crabs, oyster, shrimp, fish, etc.) are allowed to be legally released back to the ocean. I don’t want to do anything illegal, so please let me know of any restrictions I may need to know. (Justin)

Answer: Unfortunately, it is illegal to release any ocean finfish or shellfish from captivity back into ocean waters (Fish and Game Code, section 6400). Animals living in a fish tank or captive environment may have been exposed to foreign diseases and/or parasites and now carry them. To protect the natural ocean environments and prevent captive finfish and invertebrates from introducing these foreign diseases and/or parasites to healthy wild stocks, it is illegal to move or reintroduce them to the wild.

Shooting a nuisance bear?
Question: I have a buddy who lives near Lake Arrowhead. They have a bear that has been vandalizing their property (like getting into trash cans), threatening animals and making them on edge at night or during the day. Would it be legal to shoot this nuisance animal? (Joey Cox, Tulare)

Answer: No, it is not legal to take this or any bear unless you are a holder of a valid bear tag during the open season or are a person operating under the conditions of a valid Depredation Permit issued by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG).

Tell your buddy to contact DFG in Southern California at (909) 484-0167 to report the damage being caused by the bear and to obtain information about the requirements for acquiring a depredation permit.

Where to stick a stamp?
Question: I just bought the new California computerized hunting license. Since it is issued by the state, Big 5 sold me the federal waterfowl stamp separately. The federal stamp is not printed on the license. Where do I stick it on the license since there is no place designated like the past licenses? Also, if a person buys the initial license with no stamps, then decides to duck hunt later, how do they add the printed stamp info? Do you have to pay for a new license over again? (Anonymous)

Answer: The law does not require the federal waterfowl stamp to be attached to the new license. You just need to have it in your possession while hunting (along with your license) so you can present it to a game warden upon request. You may want to just staple it to your hunting license to keep them together. The federal stamp must still be signed no matter where it is kept. If a person buys a license and later wants to get validations for bird hunting, they will be given an additional printout of the validations and must carry that along with the original license.

Big Game hunting with an airgun?
Question: Is it legal to hunt and take big game in California with an airgun of any caliber? I am aware that small game (rabbits, squirrels, etc) may be taken with any caliber airgun and turkeys may be taken with a .20 caliber or larger airgun. I read this question recently on a very widely viewed airgun forum. (Mike Clark)

Answer: Air rifles are unlawful for this purpose. Check California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 353 for the specific methods allowed for the taking of big game.

How fast do abalone grow?
Question: How fast do abalone grow?

Answer. Abalone are relatively slow growing. Tagging studies indicate northern California red abalone take about 12 years to reach seven inches, but growth rates are highly variable. Abalone grow nearly one inch per year for the first few years, and much slower after that. It takes about five years for red abalone to grow from seven inches to eight inches. At eight inches, growth rates are so slow it takes about 13 years to grow another inch. Slow growth makes abalone populations vulnerable to overfishing since many years are needed to replace each abalone taken.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.


Who’s right – the sheriff or me?

Photo by Edward J. Pastula, courtesy of NOAA

Question: Are there any rules on the numbers of fishing rods someone can use for ocean fishing? I had a bad experience recently with an Orange County sheriff who saw me on the Newport Beach jetty fishing with several poles. He told me I was allowed only two poles. I told him I’d seen a sign posted at a nearby pier that said, “Maximum limit three active poles.” The officer said the pier was not following the Fish and Game rules. I told him I thought what applies there also applies here in Newport since Fish and Game rules apply statewide. I presume sheriffs can’t represent Fish and Game regarding fishing rules and should instead be catching fugitives, bad guys and drug traffickers and not bothering fishermen! I didn’t want to argue with an officer with a gun, especially a sheriff who doesn’t know the rules, but I felt the officer was harassing me. (Dandy L., San Bernardino)

Answer: Sheriff’s deputies do enforce Department of Fish and Game (DFG) regulations when they see violations, and in this case, the deputy was correct. When fishing in the ocean from a public pier or jetty, DFG regulations allow for only two rods and lines, two hand lines, or two crab nets, crab traps or other appliances for taking crabs (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.88 specifically describes a jetty as a structure that is “connected to land … and whose purpose is to form the most seaward protective boundary of an ocean harbor …”). If the sign on the nearby pier indicated a three-pole maximum, then it was not a sign that was posted or authorized by the state. City regulations can be more restrictive than state DFG regulations, but not less restrictive.

Distance from the road to hunt?
Question: I’ve heard that you need to be a certain distance from highways and roads when hunting. How far away from the roadway do you need to be before shooting?

Answer: Neither the Fish and Game Code nor the California Penal Code states a specific distance that hunters or shooters need to be from roads. Penal Code section 374(c) most closely addresses this issue as it states, “Every person who shoots any firearm from or upon a public road or highway is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

In essence, this section makes it unlawful to discharge a gun from the highway surface. “Highway” as defined in the California Vehicle Code is a road that is “publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.” Bear in mind, however, that local (e.g. county) ordinances may prohibit the discharge of firearms in certain areas or within certain distances of roads, and in general, most cities do not allow shooting within the city limits. You should check with your county sheriff’s office, too.

Certainly the most important factor, regardless of the law, is public safety. Well- traveled roads and highways are not appropriate places to shoot. If you were to injure another person or livestock, or damage property, you would undoubtedly be subject to civil and possibly criminal prosecution. While shooting just one inch away from a road may be legal, it may not be safe.

Will DFG plant fish in private duck club pond?
Question: A pond on our private duck hunting property was accidentally drained in the last year but has now refilled. Can we have DFG replant it with fish?  (Fishingdude)

Answer: DFG will only plant fish in public waters that are open and available to the public to enjoy. If this is a private pond, you will need to get a private stocking permit from DFG and then buy fish from a commercial fish farm, which may also stock them for you.

Out-of-state hunter safety cert valid here?
Question: I recently moved to California from Michigan and am wondering if I will be required to take another hunter safety class to be able to hunt here? Also, during archery season, are you able to hunt from a tree stand or an elevated platform? (Noah S.)

Answer: California has no restrictions against using tree stands. And no, you will not need to take another hunter safety course as long as you can show proof that you have passed a hunter safety class in Michigan. If you cannot produce a certificate or proof, you will need to complete another course to get your hunting license. Information regarding Hunter Education courses in your area is available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/huntered/index.aspx.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.