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Governor signs extension of Bay-Delta Stamp but State Auditor finds numerous problems in fund management

October 18, 2008 -- On September 30th Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 2162 into law. The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Mullin, extends the stamp fund until January 1, 2010.

The bill, "prohibits a person from sport fishing in the tidal waters of the San Francisco Bay Delta and the main stem of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, including major tributaries, below the most downstream dam, unless he or she first obtains a Bay-Delta Sport Fishing Enhancement Stamp or validation and affixes that stamp or validation to a valid sport fishing license. Existing law requires the funds generated by the imposition of these fees to be deposited in a separate account in the Fish and Game Preservation Fund, to be used solely for the long term, sustainable benefit of the primary Bay-Delta sport fisheries, as specified."

However, on October 16, the state auditor released a report stating that, "The report concludes that Fish and Game’s use of the money collected from fish stamp sales has been limited. Specifically, although sales of fish stamps began on January 1, 2004, Fish and Game did not consistently begin funding fish stamp projects until fiscal year 2006–07. As a result, although sales of fish stamps have generated more than $8.6 million in revenue and interest, Fish and Game has only spent $1.6 million on projects and administrative costs, leaving a surplus of $7 million.

Fish and Game also does not have a sufficient system of internal or administrative controls to monitor fish stamp project activity. As a result, project expenditures are difficult to reconcile and have been incorrectly charged to other funding sources. Finally, during fiscal years 2005–06 through 2007–08, Fish and Game inappropriately charged expenditures totaling an estimated $201,000 to the fish stamp program that were unrelated to fish stamp activities."

With the delta's fisheries collapsing, a fund is available to do SOMETHING but DFG is so politically constipated that the money continues to build, the authority to tax continues and the fishery continues to decline.

How long as sport fishers can we wait for the Department of Fish and Game to Act? The salmon fishery is a national disaster and the the fall run of stripers from the bay to the delta has failed to occur for the third year in a row. Striper stocks are judged to be the lowest in the history of the fishery.

Seven million dollars in Enhancement money is available as well as another million plus from the old Striped Bass stamp. It's past time for these funds to be spent responsibly in restoring the delta fisheries.

Read the full bill, AB 2162

Read the full State Auditor's Report