Department of Fish and Game
September 5, 2003
Carrie Wilson, Marine Region Communications, (831) 649-7191
Robert Treanor, Executive Director Fish and Game Commission
Southern California Rockfish Anglers Can Now Fish in
NOAA Fisheries approved the recommendation made in June by the Pacific
Fishery Management Council (PFMC) to move the maximum depth fishing line
from 20 fathoms (120 feet) out to 30 fathoms (180 feet) in waters south of
Pt. Conception. State and federal regulations allowing sport anglers to fish
in deeper waters in southern California took effect Sept. 1 and Sept. 2,
respectively, and will last until Dec. 31.
Because groundfish species are managed by the PFMC but occur in both state
and federal waters, the California Fish and Game Commission also needed to
conform the state's fishing regulations to the federal regulation changes
made for the current sport-fishing season.
The Commission approved the conformance regulation at its Aug. 1 meeting in
Long Beach. Federal and state fishery managers recommended easing fishing
restrictions for rockfish mid-season in response to new science showing an
increase in the overfished bocaccio rockfish, which occupies the same ocean
waters as healthy stocks targeted by saltwater anglers.
"The Commission took this action to provide some relief to fishermen and
there will be further refinements and additional relief in 2004," said
Robert Treanor, executive director of the Commission.
As a result, southern California (south of Point Conception) sport anglers
may now take many species of groundfish in waters out to 30 fathoms (180
Ocean sport fisheries for groundfish - including rockfishes, cabezon,
greenlings, scorpionfish (sculpin), ocean whitefish and lingcod - opened
July 1 in nearshore waters south of Cape Mendocino. Sport fishing
opportunities in northern California (north of Cape Mendocino to the Oregon
border) remain open year-round.
The total six-month season will last until Dec. 31, or until annual harvest
limits have been reached. For geographical regulation details, log on to
DFG's clickable map at www.dfg.ca.gov/mrd/fishing_map.html.
The additional sport fishing opportunities in southern California are the
result of a recent stock assessment suggesting that bocaccio, a federally
managed rockfish species that has been declared "overfished," is healthier
than what last year's science revealed. Bocaccio occur from Alaska to Baja
California, Mexico. In California, they are most frequently found off the
central and southern portions of the state.
This year's population estimate of the species included fish born in 1999
that were too small to include in previous assessments. Despite the new
estimates and the opening of deeper waters to fishermen, bocaccio
populations remain at a fraction of their "pre-fished" levels, and still may
not be targeted or retained by fishermen through Dec. 31. Concerns for
canary rockfish, another overfished species, found in northern and central
California, prevented the opening of deeper waters north of Point
The new available science prompted fishery managers to ease the rockfish
depth-restriction "in-season." The PFMC and California Fish and Game
Commission are also considering additional fishing opportunities for
California's sport and commercial fisheries come 2004. For a list of those
options, log on to
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