Almost exactly a year ago, Fred Jackson announced his petition to change a Nevada law banning the commercial harvest of crayfish from Lake Tahoe. Now, the Yerington resident is within weeks of legally being allowed to pull up his first catch.
"Things are moving along," Jackson said Friday, standing outside the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, where he'd turned in his application for his final permit. "They're just not moving at the speed we'd like."
Though open to the public, Jackson has been the first to navigate the permitting process for the commercial crayfish harvesting. Along the way, he's had to petition for several laws and regulations to be changed and develop a plan that eases the concerns of many residents and agencies.
The move by the Nevada legislature to allow commercial crayfish harvesting prompted a similar act in California. An amendment to the ban on the California side of the lake is working its way through committees and could hit the legislature by the end of summer, said Dana Zacky, legislative director for assemblywoman Beth Gaines, who introduced the amendment.
Jackson also petitioned to change the Nevada Department of Wildlife handling fees for live crayfish. As it stands, every fishermen, wholesaler and retailer would have to have permits to possess live crayfish. The NDOW Commission approved changes to the regulation Friday that will head to the legislature for approval later this year.
Jackson's work in preparing the applications and his focus on improving the lake's clarity has impressed some of the agencies he's worked with.
"It just seems that there's been a lot of due diligence on the part of the applicant," said Charlie Donohue, deputy administrator for the Nevada Division of State Land.
In the last few weeks, Jackson has experimented with traps and locations. He's tested different types of bait and different methods of setting the traps. With this experience, he's come up with a plan that has been presented to the permitting agencies.
According to a plan prepared by Jackson, Tahoe Lobster Co. will fish for crayfish in 15 to 120 feet of water. The traps will be attached to lines with floating buoys that will sit underwater, no more than 6 feet from the surface. Tahoe Lobster Co. will not fish near piers, buoys, marinas, boat ramps, docks or breakwaters.
The traps have been tested to be resistant to the capture of native minnow and fish species, according to documents detailing Jackson's fishing plan. Bait will be approved by NDOW and as the catch increases, crayfish will be used as bait.
"We'll try to find the big mass of them," Jackson said. "The idea is to get them out of here, so we'll take as many as we can."
All information about the catch will be recorded and shared with NDOW, Jackson added.
Now, he just wants to get started.
"This thing has been out in the open for a long time," Jackson said. "It's time to move."