Section 16500.

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The Legislature finds:

(a) Jurisdiction over the protection and development of natural resources, especially the fish resource, is of great importance to both the State of California and California Indian tribes.

(b) To California Indian tribes, control over their minerals, lands, water, wildlife, and other resources within Indian country is crucial to their economic self-sufficiency and the preservation of their heritage. On the other hand, the State of California is concerned about protecting and developing its resources; protecting, restoring, and developing its commercial and recreational salmon fisheries; ensuring public access to its waterways; and protecting the environment within its borders.

(c) More than any other issue confronting the State of California and California Indian tribes, the regulation of natural resources, especially fish, transcends political boundaries.

(d) In many cases, the State of California and California Indian tribes have differed in their respective views of the nature and extent of state versus tribal jurisdiction in areas where Indians have historically fished. Despite these frequent and often bitter disputes, both the state and the tribes seek, as their mutual goal, the protection and preservation of the fish resource. This division is an attempt to provide a legal mechanism, other than protracted and expensive litigation over unresolved legal issues, for achieving that mutual goal on the Klamath River.

(e) The department has exercised jurisdiction over the Klamath River from the mouth of the river through the Yurok Reservation and the Hoopa Valley Reservation, but the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian tribes thereon have also asserted jurisdiction over that river. The river itself lies within a disputed area and proper management of the resource presents, therefore, unique and difficult problems in the exercise of fishing practices by all user groups.

(f) Although commercial fishing may not be a traditional practice of the tribes existing along the Klamath River within the boundaries of the land of the Yurok Reservation and the Hoopa Valley Reservation, nevertheless, the department has historically supported the concept of tribal fishing, including a tribal commercial fishing industry where the industry is consistent with the need to preserve the species, sound management, and where that usage would not adversely effect other user groups, including sportfishing and the ocean commercial fishery.

(g) A commercial fishery existed on the Klamath River in the late 19th century and early 20th century, in which the Indian tribes existing along the river participated, but commercial fishing was abolished in 1933 with the passage of the predecessor to Section 8434, and, further, that salmon resources have declined historically due to past water developmental policies and timber harvesting practices. With a reduced number of fish available, special laws are needed to protect those resources and allocate them fairly among the various user groups.

(h) This division is not only enacted to provide the legal mechanism described above, but is also intended to encourage cooperative agreements to allow protection of the resource among all of the user groups. In so doing, the Legislature recognizes the unique status of the Klamath River and the fishing therein.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 154, Sec. 117. (AB 1527) Effective January 1, 2016.)

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