Fish and Wildlife Director Opens Razor Clam Fishery in Del Norte County; Fishery in Humboldt County Remains Closed Due to Public Health Hazard

After a five-year closure, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director has re-opened the recreational razor clam fishery in Del Norte County following a recommendation from state health agencies that the consumption of razor clams in the area no longer poses a significant threat for domoic acid exposure.

The razor clam fishery was one of several fisheries impacted by a massive Pseudo-nitzschia bloom that occurred off the California coast in late 2015. Pseudo-nitzschia, a naturally occurring single-celled, marine alga, produces the potent neurotoxin domoic acid under certain ocean conditions.

During the closure, state health agencies have continued to assess domoic acid levels in razor clams. Razor clams have consistently exceeded the federal action level for domoic acid of 20 parts per million. However, clams recently collected from Crescent City in March and April 2021 all had domoic acid concentrations lower than this action level.

Domoic acid poisoning in humans may occur within minutes to hours after consumption of affected seafood and can result in signs and symptoms ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to permanent loss of short-term memory (Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning), coma or death. There is no way to prepare clams that will remove the toxin – cooking and freezing have no effect.

CDFW, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment continue to monitor domoic acid in razor clams to determine when the recreational razor clam fishery in Humboldt County can be opened safely.

CDFW reminds clammers that the daily bag limit for razor clams is 20 and the first 20 clams dug must be retained regardless of size or condition. The fishery in odd-numbered years is open north of Battery Point, Crescent City in Del Norte County. Effective March 8, 2021, each person is required to keep a separate container for their clams and is not allowed to commingle their take with another person when digging and transporting clams to shore.

For more information, please refer to Section 29.20 Clams General and Section 29.45 for specific razor clam regulations that can be accessed at the following web page: https://wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Sport-Fishing/Invertebrate-Fishing-Regs#mollusks

For more information on any fishery closure information or health advisories, please visit: https://wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories

To get the latest information on current fishing season closures related to domoic acid, please call CDFW’s Domoic Acid Fishery Closure Information Line at (831) 649-2883.

For the latest consumption warnings, please call CDPH’s Biotoxin information Line at (510) 412-4643 or toll-free at (800) 553-4133.

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Media Contacts:
Christy Juhasz, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 292-2480
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Pacific Halibut Fishery Set to Open May 1

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is pleased to announce the 2021 recreational Pacific halibut fishery will open Saturday, May 1 and remain open until Nov. 15, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. The 2021 Pacific halibut quota for the California sport fishery is 39,260 pounds – approximately the same as the 2020 quota.

While the closing date of Nov. 15 is a new extension to the end of the season, the open dates are not guaranteed and the season could close early if it is determined that the quota has been taken. In 2020, the season closed Aug. 11, when a very successful fishery resulted in the early attainment of the state’s limit.

Anglers participating in the Pacific halibut fishery and other recreational fisheries are reminded they may be met at fishing sites by CDFW staff collecting catch and fishing effort information. CDFW appreciates anglers’ cooperation and participation in these survey efforts. In the case of Pacific halibut, staff will also be taking length measurements in a safe and physically distanced manner. CDFW highly encourages all recreational anglers to assist with this length data collection effort, as the information will aid with quota tracking and in-season management.

State regulations for Pacific halibut automatically conform to federal regulations set by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) using the process described in the California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 1.95. Federal regulations for Pacific halibut were published in the Federal Register (86 FR 20638) on April 21, 2021 and took effect immediately.

Anglers are always advised to check for updated information when planning a Pacific halibut fishing trip, as a season closure announcement could come at any time. Other regulatory information, including bag/possession limits and gear restrictions, can be found on CDFW’s Pacific halibut page. Public notification of any in-season change to regulations is made through the NMFS Pacific halibut hotline at (800) 662-9825 or CDFW’s Groundfish and Pacific halibut Regulations Hotline at (831) 649-2801.

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Media Contacts:
Melanie Parker, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 601-5928
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

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 (Pigeon Point 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

Chinook Salmon

CDFW to Host Virtual Public Meeting on Ocean Salmon Fisheries

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites the public to attend its upcoming annual Salmon Information Meeting. The meeting will feature the outlook for this year’s sport and commercial ocean salmon fisheries, in addition to a review of last year’s salmon fisheries and spawning escapement.

The meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. via webinar.

Stakeholders are encouraged to provide input on potential fishing seasons to a panel of California salmon scientists, managers and fishery representatives who will be directly involved in the upcoming Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) meetings in March and April.

The 2021 Salmon Information Meeting marks the beginning of a two-month long public process used to develop annual sport and commercial ocean salmon fishing regulations. The process involves collaborative negotiations with west coast states, federal agencies, tribal comanagers, and stakeholders interested in salmon fishery management and conservation. Public input will help California representatives develop a range of recommended season alternatives during the March 2-5 and 8-11, 2021 PFMC meeting. The PFMC will finalize the recommended season dates at its April 6-9 and 12-15, 2021 meeting.

Salmon Information Meeting details and instructions for attendance are available on CDFW’s Ocean Salmon web page, along with a calendar of events and other opportunities for public engagement in the 2021 preseason process. A summary of key information and meeting outcomes will be posted on the Marine Management News blogsite after the meeting.

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Media Contacts
Ian Pritchard, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2891
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169

February 2021 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Calendar

All calendar items are subject to change as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Please continue to adhere to all safety protocols including physical distancing, wearing masks and frequent hand washing.

Wildlife areas, ecological reserves and other properties may be closed due to wildfire damage. Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts are strongly encouraged to check for closures before leaving on any recreational trip.

Various Days — Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Access Permit Application Deadline for Multiple Hunting Opportunities. Wild pig and turkey hunts are available through the SHARE program. A $12.14 non-refundable application fee is charged for each hunt choice. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share.

Various Days — White Goose Late Season Opens in the Imperial County Special Management Area. Season is open Feb. 1-5, 8-12 and 15-21. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

1 — Deadline to Report on Bear Tag. All bear tag holders are required to report on their tag regardless of whether or not they were successful, unsuccessful or hunted bear. The deadline for reporting on a bear hunt tag is Feb. 1. After the Feb. 1 deadline, the online reporting system will lock hunters out from reporting. Hunters who miss the online reporting window can and should still mail in their tags to the address on the tag. All bear tags postmarked after Feb. 1 will be considered late. Tags can be reported online at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales/customersearch/begin.

1 — Falconry Only Season Opens for Rabbits and Varying Hares (extending through March 21). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/small-game.

1 — 2021 Commercial Fishing Licenses and Permits Available for Purchase. The 2021 commercial fishing licenses and permits are valid from April 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/commercial.

6 — White and White-fronted Goose Late Season Opens in the Northeastern Zone. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl

6-7 — Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days in the Southern San Joaquin Valley, Southern California, Colorado River and Balance of State Zones. Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days are intended to provide a safe learning environment for youth who are interested in hunting and to encourage youths and adults to experience the outdoors together. Each year, many wildlife areas and national wildlife refuges open for youth hunt days. Federal regulations require that hunters must be 17 years of age or younger and accompanied by a non-hunting adult 18 years of age or older to participate. All hunters must have a valid license and stamps as required by state and federal law. The daily bag and possession limits apply along with all other waterfowl regulations for the 2020-21 waterfowl season. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl

10 California Fish and Game Commission Meeting. The meeting is to be held via webinar/teleconference due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. For more information, please visit fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2021.

11 — California Wildlife Conservation Board Lower American River Conservancy Program Advisory Committee Meeting, 9 to 11 a.m., via Microsoft Teams Meeting. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov.

13 — I Heart Estuaries: Virtual Tidal Trivia Night, 5:30 p.m. Test your knowledge of mud, marsh and migratory birds, and hear a few fun stories from the wetlands in between. This virtual event is family-friendly and questions will involve a variety of nature-themed topics. The event is free, but registration is required. To register, please visit www.elkhornslough.org/events/i-heart-estuaries-tidal-trivia-night-2021.

13-14 — Veterans and Active Military Personnel Waterfowl Hunting Days in the Southern San Joaquin Valley, Southern California and Balance of State Zones. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl

20 — White and White-fronted Goose Late Season Opens in the Balance of State Zone. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

20 — Canada Goose Late Season Opens in the North Coast Special Management Area. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

25 — California Wildlife Conservation Board Meeting, 10 a.m., via Microsoft Teams or teleconference. Members of the public are invited to participate. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov.

25 — CDFW’s Annual Salmon Information Meeting, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., webinar only. The public is invited to attend CDFW’s annual meeting on the status of California Chinook salmon populations and the outlook for 2021 ocean salmon fisheries. A review of last year’s salmon fisheries and spawning escapement will be presented, along with the outlook for this year’s sport and commercial ocean salmon fisheries. The meeting marks the beginning of a two-month long public process used to establish annual sport and commercial ocean salmon seasons. A list of additional meetings and other opportunities for public comment, as well as meeting materials and the link for the webinar, will be available at wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/regulations/salmon/preseason as they become available. For more information, please contact Ian Pritchard at (707) 576-2891 or ian.pritchard@wildlife.ca.gov.

26 — Proposition 1 Grant Program Cutting the Green Tape Workshop, 9 a.m. CDFW will host an online stakeholder workshop to provide an overview of its planned Summer 2021 Proposition 1 Grant round focused on watersheds included in CDFW’s North Coast Salmon Project. This focused solicitation will also pilot a series of efforts under CDFW’s Cutting the Green Tape initiative to increase the pace and scale of restoration. No registration is required. For more information on accessing the workshop, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/grants. Information about CDFW’s North Coast Salmon Project can be found at wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/fishes/coho-salmon/north-coast-salmon-project.

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Media Contact:
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 738-9641