DFG Announces Changes to Recreational Groundfish 2008 Fishing Regulations

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Public Meeting Scheduled April 26 in Ukiah

Recreational fishing regulations are proposed to change on or about May 1, 2008, for those anglers fishing for groundfish in northern California. The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) announced that these regulation changes will prohibit fishing in waters greater than 20 fathoms (120 feet) in depth and will close specific areas to fishing for rockfish, lingcod, greenlings, cabezon and other groundfish. The primary goal of the new regulations is to reduce the bycatch of yelloweye and canary rockfish.

“California continues to be concerned about protecting overfished species,” said Marija Vojkovich, DFG marine region manager. “In order to help assure the federal harvest guidelines are not exceeded, anglers are currently not allowed to keep any yelloweye or canary rockfish they catch off California coast. This shallower depth restriction coupled with the closed areas will help to prevent incidental take.”

DFG approved the in-season regulation changes to conform to similar actions taken by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) on March 14, 2008 for federal waters. The regulation changes will not affect waters south of Pigeon Point in San Mateo County.

The DFG has scheduled an informational public meeting on Saturday, April 26 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ukiah Civic Center Council Chambers, 300 Seminary Ave., in Ukiah. The DFG will be available to discuss additional details concerning the need for the in-season action, address ways the public can avoid yelloweye and canary rockfish, and answer questions.

Yelloweye and canary rockfish are federally designated “overfished” species which by law must be protected until the stocks are rebuilt to sustainable levels. Population estimates show that yelloweye rockfish stocks are at less than 18 percent of their historical levels and may require more than 50 years to rebuild.

Each year, the PFMC sets a “harvest guideline,” or the amount of bycatch allowed during the stock rebuilding process for overfished species. By law, the number of yelloweye or canary rockfish caught off California may not exceed the harvest guidelines. Both harvest guidelines were exceeded in 2007, despite an early season closure. Bycatch occurs when anglers unintentionally catch prohibited yelloweye or canary rockfish while fishing for other groundfish, sometimes causing injury or death.

In 2007, the groundfish season closed early in northern California to prevent exceeding the harvest guidelines. For 2008, in-season modifications to the allowed fishing depth, as well as area closures in northern California, should prevent exceeding the harvest guidelines and keep the fishery open for the entire season.

Area closures will include five Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation Areas (YRCAs) covering 4 to 7 miles of coastline and extending 3 miles out to sea. YRCAs will be closed for take or possession of groundfish, including rockfish, cabezon, greenlings and lingcod. Shore-based anglers and spearfishing divers will be exempt from YRCA restrictions.

Beginning May 1, 2008 (or as close to that date as possible), the season, area, and depth restrictions (listed by management area) for boat-based anglers are as follows:

Northern Management Area – Oregon border to 40°10′ North latitude (near Cape Mendocino, Humboldt County)

  • Rockfish, cabezon, greenlings (RCG Complex) other federal groundfish (other than lingcod): Open to boat-based anglers from May 1 through Dec. 31 in waters from 0 to 20 fathoms (0 to 120 feet).
  • Lingcod: Open to boat-based anglers from May 1 through Nov. 30 in waters from 0 to 20 fathoms (0 to 120 feet).

YRCAs in the Northern Management Area are as follows:

  • Point St. George YRCA (Del Norte County)
    Defined as the area within state waters between a line extending due West through the NOAA buoy off of Point St. George at 41° 51’ 00” North latitude and a line extending due West from Castle Rock at 41° 45’ 40” North latitude; from shore to the state/federal water boundary.
  • Punta Gorda YRCA (Humboldt County)
    Defined as the area within state waters between a line extending due West from the Punta Gorda Lighthouse at 40° 15’ 15” North latitude and a line extending due West from Reynolds Creek mouth at 40° 12’ 00” North latitude; from shore to the state/federal water boundary.

North-Central Management Area – 40°10′ North latitude (near Cape Mendocino, Mendocino County), to 37° 11’ North latitude (near Pigeon Pt, San Mateo County)

  • Rockfish, cabezon, greenlings (RCG Complex), and other federal groundfish (other than lingcod): Open to boat-based anglers from June 1 through Nov. 30 in waters from 0 to 20 fathoms (0 to 120 feet).
  • Lingcod: Open to boat-based anglers from June 1 through Nov. 30 in waters from 0 to 20 fathoms (0 to 120 feet).

YRCAs in the North-Central Management Area are as follows:

  • Point Delgada YRCA (Humboldt County)
    Defined as the area within state waters south of a line extending due West from Yellow Bluff at 40° 02’ 35” North latitude and West of a line extending due South from Dead Man’s Gulch at 124° 03’ 26” West longitude, to the state/federal water boundary.
  • Bells Point YRCA (Mendocino County)
    The area within state waters between a line extending due West from Switzer Rock 39° 38’ 50” North latitude and a line extending due West from Kibesillah Rock at 39° 34’ 08” North latitude; from shore to the state/federal water boundary.
  • Point Cabrillo YRCA (Mendocino County)
    The area within state waters between a line extending due West from Hare Creek 39° 25’ 00” North latitude and a line extending due West from Point Cabrillo 39° 21’ 00” North latitude; from shore to the state/federal water boundary.

Maps and coordinates for each YRCA will be available at the meeting and online at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/yrca.asp.

For more information regarding recreational groundfish regulations and to stay informed of in-season regulation changes, call the groundfish hotline (831) 649-2801, or visit the Marine Region Web site at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine. For more information about the action taken by the PFMC, visit www.pcouncil.org.