STATEWIDE — California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) announced new restrictions of the recreational groundfish fishery in early October, with new regulations in place for anglers in Northern California. Changes were officially implemented at 12:01 a.m., Oct. 16 and will remain in place until the end of the year.
New restrictions were implemented for anglers in Northern California – specifically the section of coast north of Pt. Conception and through to the Oregon-California border.
Depth restrictions for Southern California’s recreational groundfish fishery remained unchanged.
Take of groundfish in the Northern Management Area is now prohibited seaward of 20 fathoms (120 feet) in depth. The restriction forced DFW to cancel the “all-depth” groundfish fishery, which was scheduled to be in effect for November and December.
Southern California’s take restriction – no take seaward of 60 fathoms depth contour (360 feet) – remains in place.
An “all-depth” groundfish fishery scheduled for the Mendocino Management Area (Cape Mendocino to Pt. Arena) was also cancelled. The prohibited take area for Mendocino’s groundfish fishery is 20 fathoms (120 feet) in depth.
Take restrictions for San Francisco Management Area (Pt. Arena to Pigeon Pt.) and Central Management Area (Pigeon Pt. to Pt. Conception) remain at seaward of the 30 fathoms depth contour (180 feet) and seaward of the 40 fathoms depth contour (240 feet), respectively.
California law established a 20-fathom depth restriction, while federal regulations establish take prohibitions at 30, 40 and 60 fathom depth contours.
“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,” DFW staff stated in its restrictions announcement. “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.”
DFW staff urged anglers to avoid fishing where yelloweye rockfish are generally found, such as at pinnacles or rocky outcrops.
“If taken, yelloweye rockfish should be immediately returned to the water with a descending device to minimize injury and mortality. [DFW staff] also encourages anglers who encounter them to change fishing locations to prevent catching additional yelloweye rockfish,” DFW staff stated in its announcement.
More information about groundfish regulations, management, stock status and catch trends can be found online at wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Groundfish.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife photo