Question: Is there any regulation prohibiting a photographer with scuba gear from also scouting out large abalone for a regulation-compliant abalone diver to take?
Answer: The photographer in scuba cannot assist the free diver in any way. The action you describe falls within the definition of "take" under the Fish and Game Code and its regulations. Both the abalone diver and the photographer with scuba gear would be cited for violating CCR, Title 14 section, which prohibits the use of scuba gear to take abalone.
Q: I noticed in the new ocean sport fishing regulations that ocean whitefish fillets are required to be a minimum length of 6½ inches long and retain the entire skin intact. However, there is no minimum size for the whole fish. Why is there a size limit on fillets but not on the whole fish?
A: In previously issued regulations, the basses (kelp, sand and spotted) all had 12-inch minimum lengths or 6½-inch minimum fillet lengths and were required to retain at least a 1-inch skin patch for identification. Ocean whitefish fillets looked so similar to the bass fillets that they too were required to measure a minimum of 6½ inches with skin attached to avoid confusion. This year, though, fishery managers increased the minimum lengths of the basses to 14 inches and the minimum fillet lengths to 7½ inches. Because there was no biological reason to increase fillet lengths on the ocean whitefish, scientists chose to leave their minimum fillet lengths at 6½ inches and to require all skin to be left on so that there still could be no mistaking ocean whitefish fillets with fillets of one of the three bass species.
Q: My father-in-law is interested in big- game hunting. Unfortunately for him, he has a non-violent felony conviction which bars him from possessing a firearm. This will allow him to only hunt via archery.
Does he still have to take the standard hunter safety course, or is there a special class for archery only? I have a feeling he has to take the standard course even though all the firearms questions will have no bearing on his hunting. If he does take and pass the course, can he still hunt during the general deer season using a crossbow with me?
I pride myself on knowing CDFW law, but this wrinkle throws me for a loop. He is a great guy who just made a bad choice more than 12 years ago. Now that I married his step-daughter and am such an avid hunter, he wants to get in on the fun but only as the law allows.
A: He will have to take Hunter Ed, but he will have to find a class that does not use real firearms or have a live-fire requirements. While signing up or as the class begins, your father-in-law should notify the instructor immediately of any firearms restrictions. Then the instructor can determine how best to accommodate him during the class. For a list of hunter education classes in his area, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/hunting/.
Hunter Ed isn't just about firearms. It includes all forms of hunting, hunter safety, conservation, ethics, etc. In most cases convicted felons are not restricted from using archery equipment or air rifles, but he should check with his parole officer or the court to make sure the conditions of his case do not preclude using these methods of take for hunting.
Q: I know it is not legal to spear fish in rivers. However, if I want to take my spear to the river to practice my technique with no intention of taking any fish, am I abiding by the law? Zoe D., Trinidad
A: Spearfishing is permitted in some rivers, such as those in the Colorado River District and the Valley District, but primarily only for a few species of non-game fish. New this year, spearfishing for stripers is legal in the Valley District. Even if just practicing your techniques, don't forget your fishing license! Otherwise, the use and possession of a spear within 100 yards of any canal, river, stream, lake or reservoir is specifically prohibited.
Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.