CA DFG Fish Stocking Program Will Continue Following Court Order

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CA DFG Fish Stocking Program Will Continue Following Court OrderSACRAMENTO – An order today signed by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette will allow the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to stock more waters than would have been allowed under his Nov. 6 tentative ruling. The order is a result of weeks of negotiation among DFG, and the Pacific Rivers Council and Center for Biological Diversity, along with their counsel Stanford Legal Clinic.

“DFG fought hard in the negotiations to save its fish stocking programs,” said DFG Director Donald Koch. “We are pleased that the order allows us to continue stocking in a number of areas where the communities depend on fishing.”

The order, with some exceptions, has a broad prohibition against DFG stocking “nonnative” fish in “any California fresh water body” where surveys have demonstrated the presence of 25 specified amphibian or fish species or where a survey for those species has not yet been done. The order does not address the stocking of native fish into native waters.

The order lists exceptions to the prohibition regarding stocking nonnative fish, which include:

  • Stocking in human-made reservoirs larger than 1000 acres.
  • Stocking in human-made reservoirs less than 1000 acres that are not connected to a river or stream, or are not within red legged frog critical habitat or where red legged frogs are known to exist.
  • Stocking as required as state or federal mitigation.
  • Stocking for the purpose of enhancing salmon and steelhead populations and funded by the Commercial Trollers Salmon Stamp.
  • Stocking of steelhead from the Mad River Hatchery into the Mad River Basin.
  • DFG’s Aquarium in the Classroom program.
  • Stocking actions to support scientific research.
  • Stocking done pursuant to an existing private stocking permit or to be done under a new permit with terms similar to one that was issued in the last four years.

DFG is preparing a list of waters where stocking will cease based on these parameters. It will be available on the DFG Web site early next week.

In October 2006, Pacific Rivers Council and Center for Biological Diversity, represented by Stanford Law students, sued DFG over fish stocking programs it has engaged in for more than 100 years, claiming that no Environmental Impact Report (EIR) had been completed for the programs. The result of the case was a court order requiring DFG to complete an EIR. DFG is engaged in the years-long and multimillion dollar EIR process, now scheduled to be completed in January 2010.

Due to delays in the EIR process, which involves combining the EIR with a federal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), on Friday, Nov. 7 Judge Marlette told the department to negotiate with the petitioners to seek an agreement on terms for how and where DFG may continue stocking fish during the time it is preparing the EIR/EIS.