Pandemic and More Shaped Work for California’s Marine Region Accomplishments

The new California Department of Fish and Wildlife 2020 Year in Review provides an overview of the hurdles its marine region faced and accomplished, despite challenges of the pandemic, the worst fire season in the state’s history and a period of great social unrest.

Despite much of the marine region’s workforce relocating to home offices, a tremendous amount was accomplished, regional manager Craig Shuman wrote in the report, now available online at

Among the department’s accomplishments were closely tracking and responding to dramatic shifts in commercial and recreational fish activity as behavior changed in response to the pandemic, Shuman said.

Field work and sampling programs were curtailed to focus on the most essential needs and to develop new protocols and procedures to ensure that the critical work could continue in a COVID-safe manner, he said. Then in response to passage of the federal CARES Act, they mobilized leadership across all commercial sectors to develop a spend plan and allocate the $18.3 million of Fisheries Relief funds allocated to California.

Other accomplishments included initiating a buyout program for the California drift gillnet fishery in partnership with the Ocean Protection Council and implementing new regulatory programs. These included the Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program and the lost or abandoned commercial Dungeness crab gear retrieval program to further reduce the risk of whale and turtle entanglement, Shuman said.

“While we must not forget the sorrow, loss and adversity of this past year, we can take pride in knowing that we joined together to persevere and will forever be stronger because of the hardships we overcame,” he said.