California Outdoors for the week of 3/14/2014

Carrie Wilson
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Hunting for survival
    Question: If a person in California found himself in an emergency survival situation, and had to take California wildlife in an otherwise illegal manner in order to survive, do the various California Department of Fish and Wildlife or other laws specifically describe an exemption for such exigent circumstances?

    Answer: No, there are no provisions in the Fish and Game Code or Title 14 to allow for any illegal take of fish and wildlife resources under the circumstances you describe.

Sturgeon report cards
    Question: I bought my annual sturgeon report card this last year and was able to get out fishing a few times, but despite my good efforts, I never caught a sturgeon. Now I can’t find that report card but I have nothing to report anyway, so do I need to even worry about it? If so, and if I don’t end up finding my report card, how do I check in?
    Answer: Whether or not you fished for or caught sturgeon, all sturgeon anglers are required to return their Sturgeon Fishing Report Card or report their card data online. Although the deadline was Jan. 31, CDFW still encourages anglers to return 2013 cards by mail to the address printed on the card, or submit card data online at
    Since you have lost your card, you can report it as lost by submitting an affidavit. The affidavit is available at
    Thank you for asking what you should do because any person who fails to report online or return his or her report card (any type) to CDFW by the deadline may be restricted from obtaining the same card in a subsequent license year. You could also be subject to an additional fee for the issuance of the same card in a subsequent license year.
    Sturgeon Fishing Report Card data are a key part of the white sturgeon stock-assessment program and are essential for documenting accidental catch of threatened green sturgeon.

Shotgun and rifle stocks
    Question: What kind of shotgun and rifle stocks are legal to hunt with? A friend thought my shotgun stock was illegal because it is a full stock but has a pistol grip. Is it legal to hunt with a pistol-gripped stock or thumb hole stock?
—Joe L.
    Answer: CDFW laws do not address nor control this feature in firearms. As long as the firearms you are using are legal to use, these different stocks are also legal to use. Please check the California Penal Code for laws regarding possession and use of firearms. You can also check with the California Bureau of Firearms in the Office of the Attorney General at

Commercial vs. sport limits
    Question: Why are a small number of commercial lobster fishermen allowed to use thousands of large enclosed metal traps to catch lobsters to sell for money? This doesn’t seem fair when sport fishermen who just want to catch some lobsters to eat are restricted to either open hoop nets or diving for them. It seems like commercial fishermen are allowed to compete unfairly with local sport fishermen.
—Rod D.
    Answer: Questions regarding allocation between the commercial and recreational lobster fishing sectors are common, and there are reasons why the resource is shared between the two sectors in the manner that it is.
    CDFW is mandated by law to allow for the sustainable use of lobster by both the commercial and recreational fishing sectors. While our laws say that recreational fishermen are entitled to harvest for sport (not subsistence), commercial fishermen must make a living off the resource.
    Currently, there are fewer than 195 commercial lobster operator permits in existence and there were approximately 37,000 recreational lobster report cards sold this season, according to the CDFW Marine Invertebrate Project. More than 50 of the commercial lobster operator permits are nontransferable and will cease to exist when these fishermen quit fishing.
    Commercial fishermen are required to use traps with strict regulations concerning mesh size and escape ports that allow large numbers of sublegal-sized lobsters to come and go freely from traps. Recent CDFW surveys show that the recreational sector is now dominated by hoop netters, whereas it was previously dominated by divers.
    Finally, there are large, productive areas that are closed to commercial lobster fishing but open to recreational lobster fishing, such as Santa Monica Bay, San Pedro Bay, San Diego Bay, the lee side of Catalina Island and many breakwaters and jetties.

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. Contact her at

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