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california legislation > SB 369

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Date of Hearing: June 28, 2011

ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON WATER, PARKS AND WILDLIFE
Jared Huffman, Chair
SB 369 (Evans) - As Amended: June 22, 2011

SENATE VOTE : 24-16

SUBJECT
: Dungeness Crab

SUMMARY : Establishes a Dungeness crab trap limit program,
reestablishes the Dungeness crab taskforce and makes other
related changes. Specifically, this bill :

1)Requires the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to adopt a
Dungeness crab trap limit program by July 1, 2012. Requires
the program to contain all of the following:

a) Seven tiers of trap limits based on California
landings between November 15, 2003 and July 15, 2008,
ranging from a maximum allocation of 500 traps for the
highest landings tier, to a maximum allocation of 175
traps for the lowest tier.

b) Requires participants to pay a biennial fee, not to
exceed $5, for each trap tag issued to pay a pro rata
share of program costs, and to purchase a biennial crab
trap limit permit for not more than $1,000 per two-year
period to pay for DFG's reasonable regulatory costs.

c) Prohibits leasing of a crab trap tag and allows
transfer of a tag only with the purchase of a California
permitted crab vessel.

d) Requires each trap that is fished to have a tag
fastened to the first buoy and an additional tag provided
by the permitholder attached to the trap. Requires DFG
to mandate the information that is required to appear on
both the buoy and trap tags.

e) Requires DFG to provide an annual accounting of all
costs of the program, and requires excess funds collected
by DFG to be used to reduce the costs of the permit or
tag fees in subsequent years.









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f) Authorizes permitholders to replace lost tags by
application to DFG and payment of a fee, not to exceed
DFG's reasonable costs, which fee may be waived or
reduced by DFG in the case of catastrophic loss of tags.

g) Authorizes an appeal of a trap tag allocation by
July 1, 2013 to the DFG director on a permit-by-permit
basis, based on evidence California landings were reduced
as a result of unusual circumstances constituting an
unfair hardship. Requires DFG to initiate the appeal
process within 12 months of receiving an appeal request.
Requires the appeal to be heard before an administrative
law judge with the Office of Administrative Hearings
whose decision shall constitute a final administrative
decision. Requires the individual requesting the appeal
to pay all expenses, a nonrefundable filing fee, and
DFG's reasonable costs.

2)Provides that a violation of the requirements of the program
may be subject to existing criminal penalties and authorizes
new civil penalties ranging from a fine of not less than $250
and not more than $1,000 per illegal trap for a first offense;
not less than $500 and not more than $2,500 per trap for a
second offense, plus a one year suspension of the permit; and
not less than $1,000 and not more than $5,000 per trap for a
third offense. The permit may also be permanently revoked
upon conviction of a third offense.

3)Provides that recommendations for changes in the program that
are supported by an affirmative vote of at least 15 of the
non-ex officio members of the Dungeness crab task force may be
transmitted to the DFG director or the Legislature.

4)Requires DFG to submit a proposed program to the task force
for review and prohibits DFG from implementing the program
until the task force has had 60 days to review the program and
make recommendations. Authorizes DFG to modify the program
after consultation with the task force and after the task
force has had 60 days to review the proposed changes.

5)Requires the Ocean Protection Council (OPC) to make a grant,
upon appropriation by the Legislature, for development and
administration of a Dungeness crab taskforce. Provides that
the membership of the task force shall consist of 27 members,
including 2 members representing sport fishing interests, 2








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representing crab processing interests, 1 representing
commercial passenger fishing vessel interests, 2 ex officio
members representing nongovernmental organizations, 1 ex
officio member representing Sea Grant, 2 ex officio members
representing DFG, and 17 members representing commercial
fishing interests elected by licensed Dungeness crab permit
holders from different ports, as specified.

6)Requires the Dungeness crab task force to review and evaluate
Dungeness crab management measures and make recommendations to
the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture, DFG and the
FGC no later than January 1, 2014, with final recommendations
no later than January 15, 2016. Recommendations may be
forwarded upon an affirmative vote of at least 2/3rds of the
task force members.

7)Creates the Dungeness Crab Account in the Fish and Game
Preservation Fund and requires fees collected for crab trap
permits to be deposited in the account and used by DFG, upon
appropriation by the Legislature, for administering and
enforcing the crab trap limit program.

8)Authorizes DFG to borrow funds to cover initial program costs,
to be repaid within one year from collection of fees.
Requires OPC to give high priority to providing funds or
services to DFG, in addition to loans, to assist in
development of the program.

9)States legislative intent that DFG, OPC and the Dungeness crab
task force work with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries
Commission and the Tri-state Dungeness Crab Commission to
resolve issues pertaining to moving the fair start line south
to the border of California and Mexico and including District
10 in the tri-state agreement, as specified.

10)Adds a sunset clause providing that the Dungeness Crab trap
limit program created by this bill and authorization for the
Dungeness crab task force shall become inoperative on April 1,
2018, and be repealed as of January 1, 2019.

11)Extends the sunset on existing provisions of law, including
provisions authorizing DFG to order a delay in the opening of
the crab season, prohibiting commercial take of crab without a
vessel permit, and a Dungeness crab review panel, to continue
to be operative until April 1, 2018, and repealed effective








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January 1, 2019. These sections will otherwise become
inoperative as of April 1, 2012, and be repealed effective
January 1, 2013.

12)Increases the penalties for fishing without a Dungeness crab
vessel permit or using a permit to fish illegally on another
vessel, to include, in addition to existing criminal
penalties, a fine of not more than $20,000 and, at DFG's
discretion, revocation of the person's fishing license and the
commercial boat registration license for up to 5 years.

EXISTING LAW :

1)Regulates the commercial Dungeness crab fishery by, among
other things, restricting the size of crabs that may be
harvested, requiring a crab vessel permit to take crab
commercially, limiting the number and type of vessels,
limiting the season, and regulating the type of gear used to
take crab.

2)Sets the crab season in Districts 6, 7, 8, and 9, for
Mendocino County north to extend from December 1 through July
15, and for all other districts south of Mendocino County from
November 15 through June 30. Authorizes DFG to delay the
opening of the season under certain circumstances.

3)Prior law also provided for the Dungeness crab task force,
which was funded with a grant from the OPC, and consisted of
members representing Dungeness crab fishermen and others. The
law required the task force to review and make recommendations
to the Legislature on Dungeness crab management and related
objectives. The provision of law providing for the Dungeness
crab task force sunsetted on January 1, 2011.

FISCAL EFFECT : Unknown.

COMMENTS : This bill extends the sunset date on the current
Dungeness crab limited entry program and establishes a new Crab
Trap Limits program. The author believes this bill will improve
the long term sustainability of the fishery and end the annual
increase of crab traps in the ocean that leads to a glut of crab
on the market early in the season and increased safety risks to
fishermen who compete in a derby type race to fish. The author
also believes this bill will reduce the amount of derelict gear
in the water, which will have both increased safety and








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environmental benefits, and protect California's crab fishery
from unfair competition from large out of state boats that are
limited in their own states. The author notes that the
Dungeness crab fishery is a valuable state fishery that has an
average ex-vessel price for landed crabs of approximately $224.4
million per year. With the reduction of the salmon fishery over
the last few years, the Dungeness crab fishery is one of the
most profitable and productive fisheries in California.

SB 1690 (Wiggins), Chapter 727, Statutes of 2008, provided for
creation of a Dungeness crab task force, funded with a grant
from the OPC, and required the task force to make
recommendations to the Legislature on Dungeness crab management,
including options for pot limit restrictions. The task force
met and made recommendations for a tiered crab pot-limit pilot
program. The recommendations were incorporated into SB 1093
(Wiggins) of 2010 which was ultimately held in the Senate
Appropriations Committee due to concerns about costs of
implementation.

The crab trap limits program established by this bill would be
paid for through trap and permit fees. The Dungeness crab task
force, which sunsetted on January 1, 2011, would be recreated
and paid for through a new grant from the OPC, and would be
tasked with reviewing the program and making recommendations to
the Legislature, DFG and FGC at two year intervals. The entire
program would be subject to a six year sunset.

Technical Amendment : The June 22, 2011 amendments contain a
typographical error. Subsection 8276.5(a)(1)(G) should be
amended to read:

(G) The California permits described in paragraphs (1) and (2)
of subdivision ( h ) (g) of Section 8276.4 shall receive a maximum
allocation of 175 tags. The tags in this tier shall not be
transferable for the first two years of the program.

Support Arguments : The Environmental Defense Fund asserts this
bill will greatly improve the long term sustainability of the
Dungeness crab fishery and protect the livelihood of fishermen
who depend on this resource. They note the task force was a
diverse group of fishermen elected from all major crab ports and
representing both large and small boats. The group met and came
to consensus on the need for a trap limit in the fishery. The
Crab Boat Owners Association of San Francisco also supports this








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bill which they emphasize will ensure the long term
sustainability of the California crab fishery, give the state's
fishermen the ability to compete more fairly with out-of-state
fishermen, reduce the amount of derelict gear in the water, and
resolve other management issues.

Opposition Arguments : None received

REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION :

Support

Crab Boat Owners Association, Inc.
Environmental Defense Fund

Opposition

None on file.

Analysis Prepared by : Diane Colborn / W., P. & W. / (916)
319-2096