Wednesday, March 21 , 2018, 9:59 pm | Overcast 58º


Outdoors Q&A: Is Boat Captain Responsible for Illegal Acts of Passengers?

Whether a captain is legally responsible for the actions of his or her passengers depends on various circumstances. Click to view larger
Whether a captain is legally responsible for the actions of his or her passengers depends on various circumstances. (CDFW photo)

Q: A friend of mine took some of his friends’ parents on his boat to go rock picking for abalone. Unknown to my friend, some of the parents picked extra abs and chose the biggest three of the lot to keep. It was clearly illegal and they were cited when they got back to the docks.

Since my friend was just transporting people out to the spot where they could find abalone, was he responsible for what they did once they got off his boat after rock picking? He doesn’t want his boat blacklisted. (Craig)

A: Typically, someone in your friend’s situation would not be cited for the violations of the passengers, especially if there is no question of who possessed the abalone.

However, if the passengers claimed the abalone were not theirs, or if there were over limits on board, an officer could cite everyone on the boat for jointly possessing the abalone. In this case, each person who violated the law was responsible for their specific violation.

As far as the boat being “blacklisted,” the warden who made the case may pay special attention to this boat in the future because of the actions that took place in the past.

The best advice for your friend is to be educated on the fishing laws that pertain to the activity his passengers are engaging in and to share this knowledge with the people on his boat.

What’s my recourse for wasted game citation?

Q: Yesterday I was cited for wasted game. My son and I were hunting Eurasian dove at a local feed lot in Southern California.

I was approached by the wardens who did all of the normal checks, told us they were watching us from afar, then asked us if we had dropped any birds we didn’t retrieve. I said yes, one in a stagnant pond and one in amongst a herd of cows, which I tried to retrieve but the bird was wounded and flopped away into another pen.

He asked why I didn’t retrieve it and I told him I’m broke (bad knees) and couldn’t get through the nasty stuff in the pens. I then sent my son in to push his way through the cows and he retrieved the bird for me in front of the warden.

The warden checked to see that it was a Euro, which it was, I put it in my game bag and he still cited me for it. What if any recourse do I have when I go to court? (Jim R., Lake Elsinore)

A: Just tell the judge your story. However, since you shot these birds without making sure you were doing so in a location where you could retrieve them, and because your intention had been to let them lay where they landed because they were too difficult to go after, you did intend to leave them where they ended up … that’s “wanton waste” or “wasted game.”

Using a pressure washer to dig up clams?

Q: Can I use a pressure washer to dig geoduck and/or gaper clams? (Vuong M.)

A: No. Clams may be taken only on hook and line or with the hands. The only special provisions allowed are for the use of spades, shovels, hoes, rakes or other appliances operated by hand, except spears or gaff hooks (CCR Title 14, sections 29.10(a) and 29.20(c)). Pressure washers are not a legal method of take for mollusks.

Capture and keep rattlesnakes as pets?

Q: Is it legal to capture and keep rattlesnakes as a pet? I know it’s not smart, but is it legal? (Phil C.)

A: Yes, except for the red diamond rattlesnake where no take is allowed, so be sure you can identify your snakes!

Before collecting anything, you should first check with your local animal control agency and police or sheriff regarding whether any local ordinances apply in your area, and if you live with the city limits, you might want to check your city ordinances to determine whether possession of a venomous reptile is allowed.

Under state law, all pit vipers (except for the five other California native rattlesnakes listed in California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 671(c)(7)(E)) are restricted species that may not be possessed without a permit.

Keeping live, native rattlesnakes (except for the red diamond) is not prohibited by Fish and Game laws. No license is required to take or kill other rattlesnakes in California, but the daily bag and possession limit is two.

The take of other species of reptiles and amphibians for pets requires possession of a sport fishing license. The daily bag and possession limits are provided in CCR Title 14, sections 5.05 and 5.60. 

— Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. She can be reached at [email protected].

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >

Meet Your Realtor Sponsored by Village Properties

Patricia Griffin
"I am very hands on and feel that each transaction is special and different. My clients goals are foremost in what I do to bring about a successful transaction."

Full Profile >