Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Dungeness crab season delay probed by Senate

Fisherman Jim Anderson stands surrounded by crab pots in a storage yard in Half Moon Bay, Calif. California has delayed the Nov. 15 start of its commercial crab season after finding dangerous levels of a toxin in crabs.
Fisherman Jim Anderson stands surrounded by crab pots in a storage yard in Half Moon Bay, Calif. California has delayed the Nov. 15 start of its commercial crab season after finding dangerous levels of a toxin in crabs. AP

A month after state fish and game officials delayed the opening of the crab-fishing season, California lawmakers will hold a special hearing focused on public health issues, ocean conditions and the coastal fishing economy.

The 3 p.m. hearing, led by Sen. Mike McGuire, chairman of the joint committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture, and Assemblyman Jim Wood, the committee vice chairman, brings together a panel of experts with insight into the fishing delay.

State officials say Dungeness crab is among the most lucrative fishing pursuits, with an estimated value of more than $95 million a year. The California Fish and Game Commission early last month halted the season after a coastal algae bloom infected Dungeness crabs with a potentially fatal toxin.

The indefinite freeze on commercial and recreational crab fishing, which took effect as the seasons were set to commence, remain in effect until environmental and public health officials can determine that the levels of dangerous neurotoxins in the Dungeness crabs no longer pose a safety risk.

Among the presenters scheduled to appear in Santa Rosa are Charlton Bonham, director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife; Patrick Kennelly, of the Department of Public Health; Don Marshall of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and Jim Yarnall, recreational representative of the Dungeness Crab Task Force. The hearing will be streamed online at https://youtu.be/1zntQVViocw.

DISCLOSE MORE? California’s campaign and ethics watchdog will open the floor to people interested in a proposed regulatory change that would require interest groups to disclose how they spend millions of dollars on ad campaigns and other attempts to influence policy.

State law currently requires anyone who spends $5,000 or more to effect public policy or rule-making to file quarterly reports. However, the spending often is lumped into one vague category that serves as a catch-all for everything from television and radio ads to office overhead and consultants.

Now, the new rules being contemplated would have those who pay lobbyists break down expenses exceeding $2,500 into categories that include employees other than lobbyists, advertising and public affairs work.

HOMEWORK: Tom Torlakson, the state’s schools chief, is headlining a networking and ice cream social event along with other education luminaries at a hotel in downtown San Diego. Some of the others slotted to appear are ex-Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, former Sen. Richard Polanco and Jesus Holguin, president of the California School Board Association.

MORE MUSIC: There will be more holiday music today in the Capitol rotunda with the Franklin High School Choir at 11 a.m.

Happy Birthday to Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Irvine, who turns 55 today.

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