DFG Recommends Changes In Ocean Fishing Regulations

4/13/04 DFG Recommends Changes In
Ocean Fishing Regulations
Following federal action taken by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the California Department of Fish and Game will recommend to the Fish and Game Commission changes to the 2004 recreational fishing regulations regarding retention of black rockfish at its April 22 teleconference meeting in Sacramento.

At the meeting, the commission will consider taking emergency action to ensure that state regulations remain consistent with the new federal regulations that will prohibit retention of black rockfish during May, and from September through December in ocean waters less than 30 fathoms (180 feet) from Cape Mendocino to the California-Oregon border.

In addition, the state will take conforming action affecting California's recreational fishery for federal groundfish and some state-managed species. These changes will take effect May 1 and are necessary to conform to in-season groundfish management actions taken by the PFMC the week of April 5 that will take effect on May 1. The PFMC's actions prohibit fishing at certain times and depths in specific areas in ocean waters off California.

For detailed information on the PFMC's actions, log on to www.pcouncil.org.

The recreational fisheries affected by this action include those for rockfish, cabezon, greenlings, California scorpionfish, lingcod, some flatfish, some sharks and other federally managed groundfish species. For the full list of federally managed species, check the Marine Region Web site at

The state will apply the same restrictions to ocean whitefish and California sheephead, which are not under federal management. Fish excluded from this action are leopard shark in San Francisco Bay waters, and sanddabs. The new regulations will apply to recreational anglers fishing in all waters off California. However, divers and shore-based anglers will be exempt.

The in-season changes were adopted April 8 by the PFMC and subsequently by the DFG after review of projected fishery catches through 2004.

Those projected catches showed that harvest limits for canary and black rockfish would have been met or exceeded well before the end of the year without these adjustments.

"The federal regulations, which the state conforms to, ensure resource protection and sustainability. This is in the interest not just of the federal fisheries agencies, but the states as well," said DFG Marine Regional Manager Patty Wolf.

For California's recreational anglers, the following changes include new depth regulations and season dates and will take effect on May 1:

In the Northern Rockfish and Lingcod Management Area (Oregon border to just south of Cape Mendocino), fishing is only allowed in waters less than 180 feet (30 fathoms) deep from May through December.

In the Central Rockfish and Lingcod Management Area (just south of Cape Mendocino to Pt. Conception), note that federal regulations have split this area into two sections at 36 degrees north latitude, near Pt. Lopez in southern Monterey County.

In the North-Central Section (just south of Cape Mendocino to near Pt. Lopez), there is no fishing during May through July, and November through December. Fishing is only allowed in waters less than 120 feet (20 fathoms) during September through October.

In the South-Central Section (near Lopez Pt. to Pt. Conception), fishing is only allowed in waters less than 120 feet (20 fathoms) during September through December. There is no fishing during July.

In the Southern Rockfish and Lingcod Management Area (Pt. Conception to the U.S.-Mexico border), fishing is only allowed in waters less than 180 feet (30 fathoms) deep during September through October. Cowcod Conservation Areas regulations remain the same.

The restrictions listed above will also apply to greenlings, ocean whitefish and California sheephead.

Fishing for sanddabs using gear specified in federal and state regulations is still allowed. Fishing for leopard shark in waters within San Francisco Bay is allowed. Divers and shore-based anglers may continue fishing.

The sport fishing regulation changes are not official until they are filed with the secretary of state. DFG will post any updated information on the fishing season on its Web site at www.dfg.ca.gov/mrd.