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SB-290 Marine mammals and sea turtles: entanglement and stranding: emergency rescue services: grants.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 03/31/2017 04:00 AM
SB290:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  March 30, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill No. 290


Introduced by Senator Jackson

February 09, 2017


An act to add Section 4502 to the Fish and Game Code, relating to fish and wildlife.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 290, as amended, Jackson. Marine mammals and sea turtles: entanglement and stranding. stranding: emergency rescue services: grants.
Under existing law, the Department of Fish and Wildlife is required to enforce and administer the fish and game laws pursuant to the policies formulated by the Fish and Game Commission. The department is administered by the Director of Fish and Wildlife. Existing law makes it unlawful to take any marine mammal, as defined, except as provided under specified federal laws.

This bill would, upon appropriation of moneys by the Legislature, require the director to establish a network of rescue and rehabilitation stations for marine mammals and sea turtles impacted by entanglement or stranding, as prescribed. The bill would authorize the director to enter into agreements with nonprofit organizations to establish and equip entanglement and stranding wildlife rescue and rehabilitation stations and to ensure that they are operated in a professional manner in keeping with the pertinent guidance documents issued by the director.

This bill would, upon appropriation of moneys by the Legislature, require the Wildlife Health Center at the Davis campus of the University of California to provide grants to qualified organizations, as defined, that respond to marine mammal or sea turtle entanglement or stranding emergencies. The bill would require the grants to be issued on an emergency basis and not for the operating expenses of a qualified organization, except as specified.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 4502 is added to the Fish and Game Code, to read:

4502.
 (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) A record number of 6,000 stranded California sea lions, harbor seals, elephant seals, and other mammals were rescued off the California coast in 2015 and 2016.
(2) In the first five months of 2013, 1,262 California sea lions were stranded, followed by 862 in 2014, and 3,340 in 2015. This number was 10 times higher than the average stranding level for the same five-month period during the years 2004 to 2012, inclusive.
(3) Before the year 2000, large whale entanglements along the United States west coast were reported at a rate of three to five a year. In 2014, the number of reported entangled whales rose to 31. In 2015, 61 whale entanglements were reported off the west coast, with 48 entanglements confirmed by onsite disentanglement emergency response teams. In 2016, 71 reports of whale entanglements were recorded.
(4) The Pacific leatherback sea turtle is California’s state marine reptile. This turtle is critically endangered and swims more than 6,000 miles over a 10- to 12-month period to cross the Pacific Ocean in order to feed on jellyfish every year off the coast of California. Leatherback sea turtles have been reported to have been entangled in each of the years 2015 and 2016.
(5) Volunteers who support entanglement and stranding emergency response networks have used their own resources to provide emergency services to rescue marine mammals and sea turtles in distress.
(6) For the past three years, California has allocated resources to help offset the expenses that these volunteers incur when providing entanglement and stranding emergency response services to these animals. The Wildlife Health Center at the Davis campus of the University of California has been the entity that has distributed the funding allocated to these volunteer response activities.
(7) As the need for these volunteer response activities increases, California must ensure the long-term viability of this program by codifying it into state law.
(b) (1) Upon appropriation of moneys by the Legislature for the purposes of this section, the Wildlife Health Center at the Davis campus of the University of California shall provide grants to qualified organizations that respond to marine mammal or sea turtle entanglement or stranding emergencies.
(2) Grants provided pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be issued on an emergency basis, and shall not be used for the operating expenses of a qualified organization.
(3) Grants provided pursuant to paragraph (1) may be used by qualified organizations to offset costs resulting from marine mammal or sea turtle entanglement or stranding emergency response activities, including, but not limited to, costs associated with personnel, travel, emergency response vehicles, emergency response supplies, and operating supplies.
(c) As used in this section, a “qualified organization” means a member of either the National Marine Mammal Stranding Network or the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network and is authorized by the National Marine Fisheries Service to respond to marine mammal or sea turtle entanglements or strandings.

SECTION 1.Section 4502 is added to the Fish and Game Code, to read:
4502.

(a)Upon appropriation of moneys by the Legislature for the purposes of this section, the director shall establish a network of rescue and rehabilitation stations for marine mammals and sea turtles impacted by entanglement or stranding. In addition to rehabilitative care, the primary focus of the Entangled and Stranded Wildlife Care Network shall include proactive marine wildlife and sea turtle search and collection rescue efforts. These facilities shall be established and maintained in a state of preparedness to provide the best achievable treatment for marine mammals and sea turtles impacted by entanglement or stranding in waters of the state. The director shall consider all feasible management alternatives for operation of the network.

(b)The director may enter into agreements with nonprofit organizations to establish and equip entanglement and stranding wildlife rescue and rehabilitation stations and to ensure that they are operated in a professional manner in keeping with the pertinent guidance documents issued by the director. The implementation of the agreement shall not constitute a California public works project.

(c)At the director’s request, any funds made available for purposes of this section may be directly appropriated to a suitable program for wildlife health and rehabilitation within a school of veterinary medicine within this state, if an agreement exists, consistent with this section, between the director and an appropriate representative of the program for carrying out that purpose. The director shall attempt to have an agreement in place at all times. The agreement shall ensure that the training of, and the care provided by, the program staff are at levels that are consistent with those standards generally accepted within the veterinary profession.