Dan Blanton dated 11/15/2011

Mr. Jim Kellogg, President
California Fish and Game Commission
1416 Ninth Street
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, California 94244-2090

RE: My opposition to DFG’s proposed striped bass regs.

Dear President Kellogg and Commission members:

I am a California angler and I am writing to express my absolute opposition to proposed striped bass regulation changes. Following my review of DFG’s proposed Regulation changes, I have become aware of these additional facts:

• The Department of Fish & Game (DFG) and other defendant interveners in the litigation that brought about the Settlement Agreement leading to the striped bass regulation change proposal prevailed in the summary judgments rendered by the federal court. The court found no merit in the legal arguments the plaintiffs (Coalition For a Sustainable Delta) regarding alleged population level impacts caused by striped bass to E.S.A listed fish species in the Bay-Delta estuary. The court ruled decisively in support of the position of the DFG and defendant interveners that the decline of estuary’s listed fisheries was not attributable to predation by striped bass. Specifically, Judge Wanger agreed that the best science available has not shown any population level effect on listed species and one of DFG’s own Biologists, Marty Gingras, has stated that there is no science that shows any population level effect on listed species due to striped bass predation. There are also numerous peer reviewed predation studies done in the estuary and its tributaries that have come to the same conclusion.

• This settlement agreement does not supersede the provisions of the federal Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) and it’s legal mandate to double the population of all anadromous fish species of the estuary, including striped bass, from their mid-nineteen nineties population levels. In short, the proposed regulations work at cross purposes to the CVPIA federal mandate, thus conflicting with the intent of the federal law and setting up the potential for another round of litigation regarding the striped bass fishery. The Commission could find itself in the untenable position of passing regulations that could result in violating federal law and having to defend itself in federal court.

• The proposed regulation change with the attendant increased bag and possession limits would encourage over-consumption of striped bass far beyond the limits recommended by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. In short, it is my view the possession limit in this proposal encourages consumption more than health warnings discourage the consumption of striped bass. The Commission should take into full consideration the well documented science on the health risks associated with anything beyond modest consumption of striped bass. Women and children, in particular, are most vulnerable to these health risks and should not eat any striped bass at all. It would not be good public policy for the Commission to advance regulations that do not safeguard the public from the health hazards associated with the consumption of striped bass.

• As you may recall, Sec. 1700 of the Fish and Game Code requires, among many important conservation provisions, the management, on a basis of adequate scientific information promptly promulgated for public scrutiny, of the fisheries under the state’s jurisdiction with the objective of maximizing the sustained harvest. This and other relevant code sections require the public’s fishery resources to be managed in the long term, on a sustainable basis. The regulations that the department proposed would not comply with this legal mandate.

• The proposal does not exempt San Luis Reservoir and the O’neil Forebay, one of our Nation’s premiere trophy striped bass fisheries. These two bodies of water are not connected to the Delta biologically and are not home to any listed species. This adds to my perception that, beyond my other concerns, I feel that the thoughts guiding development of this proposal were lacking in a comprehensive understanding of our state’s striped bass fisheries and the sensitivities of California striped bass anglers.

• While the Endangered Species Act encourages that all effort is brought to bear in assisting the recovery of listed species, it also discourages any action that is of dubious benefit and, indeed may do harm to the recovery efforts of listed species. Our State’s preeminent inland fisheries experts, Dr. Peter Moyle and Dr. William Bennett (Letter to Commission of Aug. 26th 2010) have reviewed the studies conducted in the estuary and concluded there is no peer reviewed science that shows ANY evidence of population level effects. Further, they point out that the removal of striped bass may have unintended consequences due to other predators that would normally be kept in check by their presence as a top predator. Their scientific opinion is backed up by respected fisheries biologist Dr. David Ostrach (Letter to the Commission July 19th 2010).

The last point is perhaps the most important as it demonstrates that this proposal offers little more than questionable benefit and even suggests potential harm to listed species. This, in addition to the other risks associated with the poor planning and policy behind this effort, leads me to strongly urge an outright rejection of this striped bass regulation proposal.


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