The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announces new restrictions on recreational fishing for groundfish in waters north of Point Conception to the Oregon/California border. Changes to authorized fishing depths described below take effect Monday, Oct. 16 at 12:01 a.m., and will remain in place through the remainder of 2017.
The recreational groundfish fishery depth restrictions will be as follows:
Northern Management Area (Oregon/California border to Cape Mendocino): Take is prohibited seaward of 20 fathoms (120 feet) in depth. The ‘all-depth’ groundfish fishery slated for November and December 2017 in this area is canceled.
Mendocino Management Area (Cape Mendocino to Point Arena): Take is prohibited seaward of 20 fathoms (120 feet) in depth. The ‘all-depth’ groundfish fishery slated for November and December 2017 in this area is canceled.
San Francisco Management Area (Point Arena to Pigeon Point): Take is prohibited seaward of the 30 fathom depth contour (180 feet).
Central Management Area (Pigeon Point to Point Conception): Take is prohibited seaward of the 40 fathom depth contour (240 feet).
Southern Management Area (Point Conception to the US/Mexico border): Take is prohibited seaward of the 60 fathom depth contour (360 feet). No changes are slated for this area.
The 20 fathom depth restriction is described by the general depth contour (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.20(a)). The 30, 40 and 60 fathom depth contours are defined by straight lines connecting the waypoints as adopted in federal regulations (Code of Federal Regulations Title 50, part 660, subpart G).
Based on recent bycatch estimates for yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) from the California sport fishery, CDFW projects that the harvest guideline specified in federal regulation for 2017 (3.9 metric tons) will be exceeded unless changes are made. Pursuant to CCR Title 14, section 27.20(e), CDFW has the authority to make modifications to the fishery to avoid exceeding the limit, and must issue notice of any changes at least 10 days in advance of the effective date.
Yelloweye rockfish are a long-lived, slow-growing shelf rockfish species that were declared overfished in 2002 and cannot be retained in the recreational fishery. They are currently managed under a strict federal rebuilding plan to allow the population to recover, which has required significant cutbacks to west coast sport and commercial fisheries for more than a decade.
Although fishing for rockfish and other groundfish will remain open through the end of the year, CDFW urges anglers to avoid fishing in areas where yelloweye rockfish are known to occur (e.g., rocky outcrops and pinnacles). If taken, yelloweye rockfish should be immediately returned to the water with a descending device to minimize injury and mortality. CDFW also encourages anglers who encounter them to change fishing locations to prevent catching additional yelloweye rockfish.
For more information regarding groundfish regulations, management, stock status information, fish identification tools, and current catch trends, please visit the CDFW Marine Region Groundfish Central website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Groundfish.