Collecting starfish can be expensive

Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.June 18, 2013 

Question:: Our family was at Mavericks Beach in Half Moon Bay recently. I wasn't paying close attention when the kids were collecting things from the beach. My kids collected a starfish and snails and put them into a cooler. When a ranger saw what they had, he made me put them back in the water. We didn't know it was against the law. He wrote a ticket out to my husband as "Unlawful taking of invertebrate" and marked as misdemeanor.

We wouldn't have let the kids do it if we had known it was illegal. What will the fines or penalties be?

Laurice P.

Answer: Sea stars (starfish) residing on nearshore rocks between the mean high tide line and 1,000 feet seaward of the mean low tide line cannot be taken. The Fish and Game Code section 12000 says the maximum fine is $1,000.

Q: I fish in Mexico and have a question regarding bringing them back to the U.S. I saw a post on a network that said we cannot bring cowcod or fillets into U.S. waters even if we have a signed declaration with the fish. Despite the fact cowcod are not legal to possess in California, they are legal to catch in Mexico.

I would like to know if this is true, since so much on the Internet is incorrect. If it is correct, is this also true for the other three protected rockfish species — canary, yelloweye and bronzespotted rockfish?

If I take a legal Mexican limit of five bocaccio, would I be limited to bringing only three back into California? Also, I hunt in Mexico where it is legal to take 60 doves. At the border, could I declare the 60 doves when I cross the border or would I only be able to have the California limit of 10 doves? Since I am hunting and fishing in another country, and abiding by their laws, do I have to also abide by California laws when I import game from another country?

Randy H.

A: It is unlawful to import or possess birds, mammals, fish, reptile or amphibian taken from outside of this state unless the following requirements are met:

• The animals were legally taken and legally possessed outside of this state.

• California and federal codes and regulations do not expressly prohibit their possession.

• A declaration is submitted at or immediately before the time of entry into the U.S.

Therefore, even if the fish were legally taken in Mexico but are prohibited here in California, then they cannot be brought back here. While cowcod, canary, yelloweye and bronzespotted rockfishes can be legally caught and possessed in Mexico, they cannot be brought back to California. Filleting is also not allowed in Mexico, so no fish taken in Mexico can be brought back to California in a filleted condition.

There is an exception for migratory gamebirds. Migratory gamebirds, such as doves, taken in Mexico fall under the federal migratory bird regulations. Federal regulations allow importation of doves from Mexico "not to exceed the maximum number permitted by Mexican authorities to be taken in any one day." That assumes you have a Mexican hunting permit date-stamped by appropriate Mexican wildlife authorities on the first day you hunt in Mexico.

Declaration for entry forms can be found online at dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/.

Q: There is a one-rod-per- angler rule in Monterey Bay. Last weekend while trolling with my husband for salmon, we had three fish onboard and needed one more for the two of us to have limits. My question is, do we need to fish with just one rod as one of us has a limit, or can we fish with two rods until we catch one more fish?

Donna S.

A: You can use two rods until you catch your final fish because boat limits apply in ocean waters. When there are two or more licensed anglers, fishing by all authorized persons can continue until boat limits of finfish are taken aboard the vessel.

Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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