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In-Season Groundfish Changes

Saltwater Marine Fishing Regulations California Saltwater Fishing

Keeping Up With In-Season Groundfish Regulation Changes

Recreational groundfish fishing regulations are adaptive and based on the latest information about the fishery. Therefore, the CDFW director can change state groundfish regulations during the year to conform to changes in federal regulations. Before engaging in ocean sportfishing for groundfish and associated species, please access one of the following sources for up-to-date information concerning season dates, allowed fishing depths, and other regulations:

CCR T-14, Section 27.20(e) describes the process CDFW follows to enact in-season regulation adjustments for groundfish:

“Fishery closure and/or rule change: When the department determines, based on the best available scientific information, that an annual harvest limit [optimum yield (OY), annual catch limit (ACL), annual catch target (ACT), recreational harvest guideline, or recreational harvest target] established in regulation by the NOAA Fisheries (National Marine Fisheries Service) for any species of federally-managed groundfish or aggregate group of federal groundfish species has been exceeded or is projected to be exceeded prior to the end of the year or that catches are less than predicted, the following rule changes may occur:

(1) The department may modify the seasons and/or depth constraints for any species of federally-managed groundfish or aggregate group of federal groundfish species, California sheephead, ocean whitefish, and all greenlings of the genus Hexagrammos. Season and/or depth modifications may differ by Groundfish Management Area, time of year, mode of fishing, or gear utilized.

(2) The department may adjust existing bag or sub-bag limits or establish additional bag or sub-bag limits as needed for any species of federally-managed groundfish or aggregate group of federal groundfish species, California sheephead, ocean whitefish, and all greenlings of the genus Hexagrammos. Bag limits may differ by Groundfish Management Area, time of year, mode of fishing, or gear utilized.

(3) The department may adjust existing size limits or establish additional size limits as needed for any species of federally-managed groundfish or aggregate group of federal groundfish species, California sheephead, ocean whitefish, and all greenlings of the genus Hexagrammos. Size limits may differ by Groundfish Management Area, time of year, mode of fishing, or gear utilized.

CCR T-14, Section 27.20(f) describes how CDFW notifies the federal government and the public of in-season changes to groundfish fishing regulations:

“Notice of closure and/or rule change: The department shall give the public and the NOAA Fisheries no less than 10 calendar days’ notice of any fishery closure or rule change implemented pursuant to this Section via a department news release. Anglers and divers are advised to check the current rules before fishing. The latest fishing rules may be found on the department’s website at: www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions/marine, or by calling (831) 649-2801 for recorded information, or by contacting a department office.”

Note: “Federal Groundfish” is defined in CCR T-14, Section 1.91 (General Provisions & Definitions).

Avoid Yelloweye Rockfish

CDFW urges anglers to avoid fishing in areas where yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) are known to occur. Take and possession of yelloweye rockfish is prohibited year-round. If taken, yelloweye rockfish should be immediately returned to the water to minimize injury and mortality. CDFW also encourages anglers who encounter them to change fishing locations to prevent catching additional yelloweye rockfish.

Yelloweye rockfish are a long-lived, slow-growing shelf rockfish species that was declared overfished in 2002. 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 over a decade.

For more information regarding groundfish regulations, management, stock status information, fish identification tools, and current catch trends, please visit the CDFW Marine Region groundfish website at: www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Groundfish

Help Fish Like This Survive!

Fish floating at the surface like this can survive…with your help.

When fish that possess swim bladders are brought up from depth, decreasing pressure may injure them (known as pressure shock, or ‘barotrauma’). When released, these fish often float helplessly at the surface. Injured fish that cannot descend on their own are especially easy targets for sea gulls and sea lions. Helping fish to descend significantly increases their chances of survival.

You can transport injured fish down to the sea floor using one of the following:

  • A weighted, inverted barbless hook
  • A fish-descending device available at your local tackle shop
  • An inverted, weighted plastic crate with a rope attached to the bottom

For more information visit the CDFW website at wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/groundfish/barotrauma or pick up an informational brochure at your local CDFW office.