New Rockfish Conservation Area and Waypoint Maps Coming Soon for Upcoming Recreational Groundfish Openers

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is pleased to announce new map-based flyers and an updated online web map will soon be available to assist recreational anglers with Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) waypoints and boundaries on the CDFW website.

These new flyers will be available in anticipation of the upcoming recreational boat-based groundfish fishery openers that will occur as follows:

  • March 1 in the Southern Management Area (Point Conception to U.S./Mexico border)
  • April 1 in the Central Management Area (Point Arena to Point Conception)
  • April 1 in the San Francisco Management Area (Pigeon Point to Point Arena)
  • May 1 in the Mendocino Area (Point Arena to near Cape Mendocino)
  • May 1 in the Northern Management Area (Near Cape Mendocino to California/Oregon state line)

RCAs are used in each of the state’s five Groundfish Management Areas (and the Cowcod Conservation Areas) to minimize contact with deeper-dwelling species of rockfish needing protection from fishing. RCAs are defined by straight lines connecting the waypoints in the order listed in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 50, Part 660, Subpart C. Recreational take of those groundfish species subject to RCA restrictions is prohibited seaward of these lines regardless of depth. However, they may be possessed aboard a vessel in transit through these closed areas with no fishing gear deployed in the water. Anglers fishing for groundfish and non-groundfish species on the same trip are encouraged to review rules on take and possession inside and outside of RCAs.

The new flyers will include an overview cover map, and a series of 38 regional maps detailing the entire California coastline, including offshore islands and banks. The maps feature the RCA waypoint coordinates and boundary lines as well as the Groundfish Management Area lines. Also included are California’s network of Marine Protected Areas, which may be closed to some or all recreational fishing. The RCA maps are overlaid on National Ocean Service nautical charts to help anglers compare them to their desired fishing location; however, they should not be used for navigation.

CDFW will also update the online Ocean Sport Fishing Interactive Web Map with the new RCA lines. The web map, when used with a smart phone, will show your current position in relation to the RCA lines and marine protected area boundaries. Locations can be clicked or tapped to show the current fishing regulations. New features will also include the ability to live-track your position and different selections for the background to better understand the boundaries.

For 2021, the new map products are especially important as changes have been made to waypoints and RCA lines in three of the Groundfish Management Areas – Southern, San Francisco and Mendocino. The changes in each area offer anglers access to deeper depths, meaning more open fishing area when the groundfish season is open. In the Southern Management Area, the RCA for 2021 increases to 100 fathoms, allowing access to reefs and areas that have not been open to fishing in two decades. Subsequent openers for the San Francisco Management Area at 50 fathoms and the Mendocino Management Area at 30 fathoms are also new opportunities for anglers to venture into deeper depths to access shelf rockfish and deeper nearshore rockfish species. In the Northern Management Area the RCA depth remains at 30 fathoms, and in the Central Management Area at 50 fathoms.

In addition to the RCA changes and the new map products, anglers should also take note of the sub-daily bag limit of five vermilion rockfish, which is also new in 2021. For more information on this change, please see our FAQ.

Take and possession of bronzespotted rockfish, cowcod and yelloweye rockfish remain prohibited statewide.

Anglers should check CDFW’s website for the current regulations before fishing for groundfish. For more detailed information on the new 2021 recreational groundfish regulations and to stay informed of in-season changes, please call the Recreational Groundfish Hotline at (831) 649-2801 or visit CDFW’s summary of recreational groundfish fishing regulations for 2021. For background information on groundfish science and management, please visit CDFW’s Marine Region Groundfish web page.

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Media Contacts:
Caroline McKnight, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 277-7683
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

CDFW Transitioning to Electronic Hunting and Fishing Regulations Booklets in 2021

As part of a broader effort to go paperless, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is transitioning to a digital format for its 2021 hunting and fishing regulations booklets and Big Game Hunting Digest. Booklets will no longer be printed and shipped to license agents or customers but electronic versions of the booklets will continue to be available online.

“Not only is this shift best for the environment because of the reduction of many thousands of short-term paper booklets being produced, the cost to print and ship the booklets is significant,” said CDFW Wildlife and Fisheries Division Deputy Director Stafford Lehr. “Another benefit is that the money saved by going paperless will be redirected to fish and wildlife conservation.”

The transition to paperless regulations booklets follows a two-year effort to reduce the number of hard copy booklets printed and shipped to license agents and is consistent with the governor’s directive to reduce paper usage.

As in previous years, digital booklets are available at wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations and can be downloaded as PDFs to your computer, cellular phone or other electronic device. Hunters and anglers are encouraged to download the digital booklets to their mobile devices and familiarize themselves with the digital format prior to hunting and/or fishing trips.

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Media Contacts: 
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications, (916) 825-7120

Knoxville Wildlife Area and Cedar Roughs Wildlife Area, Napa County Re-Open

moss covered oak on hillside

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is pleased to announce the re-opening of the Knoxville Wildlife Area and Cedar Roughs Wildlife Area, both in Napa County. The August 2020 LNU-Lightning Complex Fire consumed the entire 21,500-acre Knoxville Wildlife Area and both units of the Cedar Roughs Wildlife Area (414 acres).  The public is asked to remain vigilant of potential hazards such as falling trees and rocks, and to confine use to established old ranch road trails. Potential for debris flow is high along the northern section of Berryessa-Knoxville Road and in the Long Canyon area during heavy rain events. To protect public safety, this may prompt subsequent closure of the Knoxville Wildlife Area.

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Media Contacts
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications, (916) 825-7120 
Stacy Martinelli, CDFW Wildlife Biologist 

Salmonellosis Outbreak Causing Songbird Deaths

Since December, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and wildlife rehabilitation centers have been inundated with calls from residents who are finding sick or dead finches at bird feeders. Most reports have come from locations on California’s Central Coast, the San Francisco Bay Area and Sierra Nevada communities. CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory has evaluated birds from several locations and determined the cause of illness to be Salmonellosis, a disease cause by Salmonella bacteria.

Pine Siskin. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Pine siskins, a species of finch that winters in California, are the primary species affected by the outbreak. The disease has also been reported in smaller numbers of lesser goldfinches and American goldfinches. 

“Salmonellosis occurs periodically in pine siskins in some winters throughout their range. When large numbers of pine siskins congregate, the disease can spread rapidly causing high mortality. Most birds die within 24 hours of infection,” said CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Krysta Rogers, an avian disease specialist. 

Birds become infected with Salmonella when they ingest food, water or come into contact with objects (e.g., bird feeders, perches, soil) contaminated with feces from an infected bird. Sick birds often appear weak, have labored breathing, and may sit for prolonged periods with fluffed or ruffled feathers. 

Salmonellosis is almost exclusively reported from locations with bird feeders where birds congregate. Residents can help reduce disease transmission by removing bird feeders and bird baths. Allowing birds to feed on natural seeds rather than at bird feeders reduces contact between birds and helps slow spread of the disease. 

Residents can report dead birds to CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory using the mortality reporting form, which helps biologists monitor the outbreak. Disposable gloves should be worn and hands should be thoroughly washed after disposing of dead birds, and handling of bird feeders and bird baths. If sick birds are found, please contact your local wildlife rehabilitation center for advice.

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Media Contacts:
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications, (916) 825-7120
Krysta Rogers, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 358-1662

CDFW Wildlife Officer Works with Multiple Agencies to Stop Suspected Abalone Poachers in the Act

On the night of Jan. 30, 2021, a California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) law enforcement officer based out of Long Beach partnered with the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) on a joint agency boat patrol in and around Long Beach Harbor. While on patrol, the officers observed the silhouettes of two subjects on the rocks of a jetty. LBPD boat operators dropped the wildlife officer off on the rocks to make contact. When he attempted to contact the subjects, they immediately fled, initiating a brief foot pursuit. Upon a subsequent search and with the help of the LBPD Air Support Unit, officers located two men hiding in the rocks who were in joint possession of 16 abalone. The nearby Los Angeles Port Police also assisted with the response.

CDFW partnered with multiple agencies last month to apprehend two suspected abalone poachers.

The wildlife officer cited both subjects for 16 counts related to the unlawful take and possession of green and pink abalone. The abalone appeared to be in survivable condition and were carefully returned to the ocean.

“This is a perfect example of  mutual aid cooperation allowing us to create a force multiplier in order to protect our precious resources,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “This joint patrol effort allowed us to apprehend these suspected poachers who were targeting abalone, a protected species south of the Golden Gate for more than 23 years.”

CDFW thanks LBPD and the Los Angeles Port Police for their continued dedication in helping keep Southern California’s fish and wildlife populations safe.

A moratorium was established in 1997 for the take of abalone, commercial or recreational, south of the Golden Gate Bridge after the population neared collapse. A statewide closure of any abalone harvest took effect in mid-2017 as the red abalone population has continued to decline mostly due to environmental stressors. The recreational closure of abalone harvest has since been extended north of the Golden Gate Bridge until 2026.

If you witness a poaching, wildlife trafficking or pollution incident, immediately dial the toll free CalTIP number, (888) 334-2258, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Tips may also be submitted by texting to tip411 (847411). Anyone with a cell phone may send an anonymous tip to tip411 by texting “CALTIP” followed by a space and the message. Tips can also be reported through the free CalTIP smartphone app, which operates similarly to tip411 by creating an anonymous two-way conversation with wildlife officers. The CalTIP app can be downloaded via the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.

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Media Contacts:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement
Lt. Michele Budish, CDFW Law Enforcement