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Outdoor Notes / Pete Thomas : Largest Man-Made Reef Nearly Ready

October 16, 1987|Pete Thomas

The Department of Fish and Game is building what will be the largest man-made reef in the United States about a mile from the Santa Monica-Pacific Palisades coastline in Santa Monica Bay.

The 20,000-ton quarry-rock reef, which should be completed within a month, is another in a series of reefs being built by the DFG to improve the inshore fisheries in Southern California.

John Grant, a DFG biologist and artificial reef expert, said the reefs will provide suitable habitat for various species of fish, which should inhabit the area shortly after the rocks are submerged. Shellfish such as lobster, abalone and scallops are expected to show up soon after completion.

Anglers and divers should find improved fishing at the reefs within a week after their completion, Grant said.

Reefs off San Diego and Oceanside have already been completed and three others--off Topanga Canyon, Santa Barbara and Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc--are scheduled for completion before next June.

The artificial reef program will cost slightly more than $1 million. The financing is coming from state funds provided by the Fisheries Restoration Act of 1985 and from federal money derived from a tax on recreational fishing equipment.

A two-day hearing will be held in Sacramento, beginning Oct. 27, to discuss accusations of mismanagement by the DFG.

The hearing will involve charges of favoritism in the awarding of deer tags for a popular hunting zone in Lassen County, and will review the state's "Ranch for Wildlife" program, which allows landowners, who have agreed to animal management plans approved by the DFG, to charge access fees to hunters.

The hearing was requested by Assemblyman Gary Condit (D-Ceres), chairman of the Governmental Organization Committee. Assembly Speaker Willie Brown agreed to it, but said it should be a joint venture with the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee headed by Assemblyman Jim Costa (D-Fresno).

Also participating in the hearing will be Assemblywoman Doris Allen (R-Westminster), who has charged the state Fish and Game Commission with favoring commercial fishing interests over sport fishermen.

The deer tag issue centers on the X5B zone, where hunters from all over the state apply to hunt. The hunters, who get tags there, are selected by a lottery, and the chances of winning a tag have been estimated at 1 in 16. An aide to Condit said that there are reports that some hunters have received tags for as many as six consecutive years.

Said Condit: "My sources have told me that these 'predetermined XB5 tag recipients' have received XB5 deer tags for as many as six consecutive years, ostensibly through the public drawing process, and that privileged hunters have even bragged to others about their knowledge of receiving a new XB5 tag for the upcoming season prior to the public drawing even being conducted."

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy has asked for an audit of the Ranch for Wildlife program, which the auditor general is conducting. A spokeswoman said it is not expected to be completed until January.

McCarthy said the program has opened up "private hunting seasons for the rich."

Populations of sea birds and harbor porpoise will have permanent protection from gill and trammel nets in areas off the central California coast under the terms of new legislation signed recently by Gov. Deukmejian.

The new law expands several existing area closures to the use of such nets by moving them into deeper waters where the birds and porpoises are not commonly found.

The law also makes the closures year-round, but provides measures to aid commercial fishermen in the development of alternative fishing gear to replace the use of gill and trammel nets.

Scientists say one of the first striped marlin ever to be tagged with a sonic transmitter was tracked to waters that were surprisingly deep and cold.

The experiment on the popular billfish is being carried out by biologists of the National Marine Fisheries Service and the DFG.

In September, the DFG tagged three marlin off the Southern California coast.

Striped marlin are found in tropical and temperate waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans. They usually appear off California, as far north as Point Conception, from July to late October.

State biologist Dennis Bedford said one marlin spent considerable time at depths well below the warm surface layer.

"It crossed right through what is known as the thermocline break, a point which occurred at a depth of about 65 feet," he said. "Above the break, temperatures at this time of year are about 70 degrees. Below that depth, temperatures decline rapidly, reaching 50 degrees or colder."

Briefly

The lower reaches of the Eel River in Humboldt County has been closed to all fishing and lower portions of five other north coast rivers will be closed Nov. 1 if dry weather persists, the DFG announced, adding that fishermen can check the status of the waters by calling a recorded message at (707) 442-9033. . . . John Seaman, co-owner of the Madison River Fishing Co. of Ennis, Mont., will be the guest speaker at the Sespe Flyfishers' meeting Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Senior Recreation Center in Ventura. . . . The first of six monthly tours of the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve--a major stop-off point for various migrating birds flying south--will be conducted Saturday, Oct. 24., beginning at 9 a.m.

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