Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Panel rejects stock pond regulations

Noticed this while going through my post-holiday stack. From the California Cattlemen's Association's legislative newsletter:
At the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) meeting [last month] in San Diego, the Commission was presented with potential regulations could potentially limit land owners’ ability to stock fish in their ponds by requiring an environmental study to be preformed to ensure that stocked fish do not negatively impact native species. CCA, along with dozens of other agriculture and commercial fisheries groups submitted letters of opposition to the commission, urging a more common sense approach. After testimony by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) as well as numerous public comments, the Commissioners instructed DFG to come back to the Commission only if the agency feels it’s necessary and to clarify the DFG’s legal exposure for not going forward with the DFG’s regulations.

“My direction is rejection, and I’m not directing them (DFG) to come back,” said Commissioner Dan Richards of Upland. Richards said afterward that he expects the proposed regulation changes to come back to the Commission again in some form, but he said the Commission made it clear that it will not make the hatchery and fisheries groups go through the kind of permitting process the DFG sought in this round.

Testimony by the public and DFG varied greatly on what they expected the cost of the regulations to be. While the DFG showed costs to be in the hundreds of dollars, a 32 page document prepared by Sappohs Environmental Inc, estimated the cost, when applied to 24,000 potentially regulated water bodies in California, could exceed $3 billion, with recurring costs to occur on 5-year cycles. It became clear that the difference in cost was attributed to the DFG accounting for only the time for a biologist to inspect a site, not the cost the land owner would accrue to comply with the regulations.

With the pushback from both the public and the Commissioners, it is unlikely that the DFG will continue to push for such burdensome and expensive regulations, but, as indicated by Commissioner Richards, there is still the possibility that similar regulations will be proposed should the DFG legal team determine the need.

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