Tuesday, 13 April 2021

California Outdoors: What is CDFW's role in handling oil spills?

California Department of Fish and Wildlife staff at the scene of an oil spill. Photo courtesy of CDFW.

Oil spill response

Q: I've been reading news reports about the recent oil spills in the San Francisco Bay Area and learned that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is the lead state agency handling oil spills. How did the department assume this authority? (Dave)

A: CDFW’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) was established by the Lempert-Keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act of 1990. The legislation came on the heels of two major spills, the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, in which 11 million gallons of crude oil was released, and the American Trader spill in Orange County in 1990 that resulted in a release of 416,598 gallons of crude oil.

OSPR works to protect and preserve 3,400 miles of shoreline and 7,700 square miles of state waters from petroleum substances. When a spill occurs, OSPR deploys a team of wildlife officers, scientists and oil spill prevention specialists to manage the state’s response. These responders often work within a unified command that includes federal and local agencies, and the responsible party.

OSPR is also the state’s public trustee in protecting, managing and restoring California’s wildlife and habitat after an oil spill.

Disabled veteran

Q: I am a disabled veteran and was wondering if there are any hunts on Grizzly Island in Solano County that I could participate in. (Hal)

A: The Grizzly Island Wildlife Area has a duck blind reserved for those with disabilities each shoot day during waterfowl season. It’s available via CDFW’s Online License Sales and Services website. If nobody claims the blind one hour before shoot time – it becomes available on a first-come, first-served basis to those with disabilities.

There is a separate online reservation application process for mobility-impaired waterfowl hunters. CDFW and the national wildlife refuges it staffs during waterfowl season have dozens of duck blinds throughout northern California reserved just for disabled hunters via this online application process. Our advice would be to not limit yourself just to the one blind at Grizzly Island. Disabled duck blinds at Gray Lodge and Little Dry Creek – among many others – can shoot really well at times. Here’s a link to all of those blinds along with instructions on how to apply along with other entry procedures once the waterfowl season rolls around in the fall: www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Waterfowl/Disabled-Access.

It would also be a good idea to give the staff at Grizzly Island a call to see just how popular the mobility impaired duck blind is, how it shoots and whether your chances are good at accessing it without a reservation. Grizzly Island staff can be reached at 707-425-3828.

While Grizzly Island hosts some limited, big-game hunts each year – for tule elk in the fall through CDFW’s Big Game Drawing and for wild pig in the spring on its Joice Island Unit through a separate, online drawing – there are no special, mobility-impaired offerings here.

As a disabled veteran, however, you may qualify for CDFW’s Disabled Veteran Reduced Fee Hunting License, which is available at a significant discount to resident and nonresident disabled veterans honorably discharged with a 50 percent or greater service-connected disability.

You might also be eligible for a Disabled Archer Permit, which allows the use of crossbows during California’s archery-only deer seasons (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 354(j)). More information is available at CDFW’s Reduced Fee Hunting License and Disabled Entitlements webpage.

Sea urchins

Q: Where can I legally go tide-pooling for sea urchins?

A: The take of invertebrate species in ocean waters is authorized in California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 29.05 and 29.06. You may take any species of sea urchin in a tidepool as long as it’s not within a marine protected area that prohibits the recreational take of sea urchin. There’s a general bag limit of 35 sea urchin of each species, so for example you could take 35 red urchin and 35 purple urchin in a day. The most frequently harvested species are red and purple urchin, and there’s no minimum size limit for any sea urchin species. Section 29.06 covers special regulations for harvesting sea urchin in Mendocino, Sonoma, Monterey and Humboldt counties where CDFW has increased the bag limit to aid in kelp recovery.

Ocean enhancement

Q: Do I need a saltwater fishing stamp to fish on the Pismo Beach shoreline or would a regular California fishing license work? (Long)

A: A regular fishing license will work. An Ocean Enhancement Validation is required only when fishing in ocean waters south of Point Arguello in Santa Barbara County, per California Fish and Game Code section 6596.1(a). This validation is not required when fishing with a valid one- or two-day fishing license.

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