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CA Sport Fishing Regulations. (Photo: nrm.dfg.ca.gov)

Why Is the Fish and Game Commission in the Constitution?

California has three fish and wildlife-related entities

By Chris Micheli, January 3, 2022 3:37 pm

Did you know that the California Fish and Game Commission, an executive branch entity, is created by the state Constitution? Why is the Commission in Article IV, which deals with the legislative branch of state government, rather than Article V, which deals with the executive branch of government?

Article IV, Section 20(a) states that the Legislature may provide for division of the State into fish and game districts and may protect fish and game in districts or parts of districts. Section 20(b) provides that there is a Fish and Game Commission of 5 members appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate for 6-year terms. In addition, the Legislature may delegate to the commission such powers relating to the protection and propagation of fish and game as the Legislature sees fit. Finally, a member of the commission may be removed by concurrent resolution adopted by each house, a majority of the membership concurring.

By way of background, California has three fish and wildlife-related entities: Fish and Game Commission, Department of Fish and Wildfire, and Wildlife Conservation Board. Only the Commission is set forth in the state Constitution.

Fish and Game Code Division 1, Chapter 1 concerns the organization of the Commission. Section 101 provides there is in the Resources Agency the Fish and Game Commission that is created by Article IV, Section 20.

In addition, Public Resources Code Division 20, Chapter 5, Article 2, Section 30411 provides that the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Fish and Game Commission are the principal state agencies responsible for the establishment and control of wildlife and fishery management programs.

According to the Fish and Game Commission, it was the first wildlife conservation agency in the United States. In 1870, the Board of Fish Commissioners, the forerunner of the modern-day Fish and Game Commission was established to provide for the restoration and preservation of fish in California waters. In 1909, the Board was changed to the Fish and Game Commission.

The Commission notes that “there is often confusion about the distinction between the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Fish and Game Commission. In the most basic terms, the Department of Fish and Wildlife is charged with implementing and enforcing the regulations set by the Fish and Game Commission, as well as providing biological data and expertise to inform the Commission’s decision-making process.”

The Commission has been provided numerous powers found in the Fish and Game Code. In addition, the Commission has regulations in Title 14, Natural Resources, of the California Code of Regulations. Nonetheless, it seems odd that not only is the Fish and Game Commission a constitutional body, but also it is set forth in Article IV that is dedicated to the legislative branch of state government.

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One thought on “Why Is the Fish and Game Commission in the Constitution?

  1. Gotta have a high-ranking official to sign off on draining the reservoirs to bankrupt the farmers, so they’ll sell out to the CCP farmland acquisition department…

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