Category Archives: Fisheries

A Section of the Commercial Spiny Lobster Fishery Closure around Anacapa Island has been Lifted

Today the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham lifted a portion of the commercial fishery closure around Anacapa Island east of 119°30.000’ W. longitude and north of 34°00.000’ N. latitude as recommended by state health agencies. According to the notice from the Director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessments (OEHHA), sampling of spiny lobster and analysis of samples by California Department of Public Health (CDPH) laboratories indicates that consumption of spiny lobster taken from this area no longer poses a significant threat for domoic acid exposure.

On October 24, 2017 State health agencies determined that spiny lobster near Anacapa Island, Ventura County and the east end of Santa Cruz Island, Santa Barbara County had unhealthy levels of domoic acid and recommended closure of the commercial fishery in this area.

Except for state waters east of 119°30.000’ W. longitude and north of 34°00.000’ N. latitude, the commercial closure remains in effect in all state waters around Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands east of 119°40.000’ W. longitude, and west of 119°20.000’ W. longitude. State waters extends three nautical miles beyond outermost islands, reefs and rocks. The recreational fishery for spiny lobster remains open statewide with a warning from CDPH to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera (tomalley) of spiny lobster taken from the closed area.

This closure shall remain in effect until the Director of OEHHA, in consultation with the State Public Health Officer at CDPH, determines that domoic acid no longer poses a significant risk to public health and recommends the fishery be open in this area. CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in spiny lobster to determine when the fishery can safely be opened in the closed area.

Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin produced by a naturally occurring marine alga, whose levels can be increased under certain ocean conditions. State and federal laws prohibit the commercial distribution of seafood products that contain domoic acid levels above the federal action level, which is 20 parts per million in the viscera of spiny lobster.

For more information:

CDFW Declaration 11/03/2017

Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (11/03/17)

http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories

###

Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Invasive New Zealand Mudsnails Found in Carmel River – Residents and Visitors Urged to Help Prevent Further Spread

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has confirmed the presence of New Zealand mudsnails in Monterey County’s Carmel River.

The highly invasive, nonnative snails have been detected by the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District at multiple locations in the lower river, including near the Highway 1 crossing, the Valley Greens Drive bridge, and Mid Valley nearly 8 miles upstream from the mouth of the river at the Carmel River State Beach along the Pacific Ocean. No mudsnails were found in locations upriver from Red Rock to the base of Los Padres Dam.

CDFW urges visitors and those in the community to “clean, drain and dry” all recreational and fishing gear in order to prevent the further spread of the snails. It is illegal to import, possess or transport the mudsnails without a permit and offenders can be cited.

Despite their small size, New Zealand mudsnails are a problematic aquatic species. Only 4 to 6 millimeters long on average, dense populations of New Zealand mudsnails can displace and out-compete native species, sometimes by consuming up to half the food resources in a waterway. The snails have been linked to reduced populations of aquatic insects, including mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies, chironomids and other insect groups upon which trout and steelhead populations depend.

The Carmel River is home to a fragile population of threatened steelhead listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. Boaters, anglers and others who may visit the Carmel River, within or outside infested areas, are asked to decontaminate their equipment and follow the “clean, drain and dry” best practices with all equipment used in the river:

  • If you wade, freeze waders and other gear overnight (at least six hours).
  • After leaving the water, inspect waders, boots, float tubes, paddleboards, kayaks or any gear used in the water. Remove any visible snails with a stiff brush and follow with rinsing. If possible, freeze or completely dry out any wet gear.
  • Never transport live fish or other aquatic plants or animals from one body of water to another.

An informational flier on the “clean, drain and dry” directive is available for download at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=3866&inline.

To date, low numbers of New Zealand mudsnails have been identified in two other locations in Monterey County (the Salinas and San Antonio rivers).

In the coming weeks, CDFW will launch a public outreach and education effort, including distribution of information cards, brochures and signage posted at the Carmel River State Beach and at other access points along the Carmel River.

For more information on the New Zealand mudsnail, please visit CDFW’s Invasive Species website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Invasives/Species/NZmudsnail.

The current distribution of mudsnails in California and throughout the United States can be viewed at the U.S. Geological Survey’s interactive map, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/viewer/omap.aspx?SpeciesID=1008.

Media Contact:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

Changes to Recreational Groundfish Regulations Effective Oct. 16

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announces new restrictions on recreational fishing for groundfish in waters north of Point Conception to the Oregon/California border. Changes to authorized fishing depths described below take effect Monday, Oct. 16 at 12:01 a.m., and will remain in place through the remainder of 2017.

The recreational groundfish fishery depth restrictions will be as follows:

  • Northern Management Area (Oregon/California border to Cape Mendocino): Take is prohibited seaward of 20 fathoms (120 feet) in depth. The ‘all-depth’ groundfish fishery slated for November and December 2017 in this area is canceled.
  • Mendocino Management Area (Cape Mendocino to Point Arena): Take is prohibited seaward of 20 fathoms (120 feet) in depth. The ‘all-depth’ groundfish fishery slated for November and December 2017 in this area is canceled.
  • San Francisco Management Area (Point Arena to Pigeon Point): Take is prohibited seaward of the 30 fathom depth contour (180 feet).
  • Central Management Area (Pigeon Point to Point Conception): Take is prohibited seaward of the 40 fathom depth contour (240 feet).
  • Southern Management Area (Point Conception to the US/Mexico border): Take is prohibited seaward of the 60 fathom depth contour (360 feet). No changes are slated for this area.

The 20 fathom depth restriction is described by the general depth contour (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.20(a)). The 30, 40 and 60 fathom depth contours are defined by straight lines connecting the waypoints as adopted in federal regulations (Code of Federal Regulations Title 50, part 660, subpart G).

Based on recent bycatch estimates for yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) from the California sport fishery, CDFW projects that the harvest guideline specified in federal regulation for 2017 (3.9 metric tons) will be exceeded unless changes are made. Pursuant to CCR Title 14, section 27.20(e), CDFW has the authority to make modifications to the fishery to avoid exceeding the limit, and must issue notice of any changes at least 10 days in advance of the effective date.

Yelloweye rockfish are a long-lived, slow-growing shelf rockfish species that were declared overfished in 2002 and cannot be retained in the recreational fishery. 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 more than a decade.

Although fishing for rockfish and other groundfish will remain open through the end of the year, CDFW urges anglers to avoid fishing in areas where yelloweye rockfish are known to occur (e.g., rocky outcrops and pinnacles). If taken, yelloweye rockfish should be immediately returned to the water with a descending device to minimize injury and mortality. CDFW also encourages anglers who encounter them to change fishing locations to prevent catching additional yelloweye rockfish.

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

###

Media Contacts:
Marci Yaremko, CDFW Marine Region, (858) 442-3004

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Nimbus Hatchery Fish Ladder to Open Oct. 9

The Nimbus Hatchery Fish Ladder on the American River will open on Monday, Oct. 9 at 10:45 a.m. The ladder is opening unusually early in the season to accommodate the arrival of returning adult fall-run Chinook salmon that hatched in the Coleman National Fish Hatchery (CNFH) in Battle Creek in 2014. Eggs from fall-run Chinook salmon that stray to Nimbus Hatchery will be returned to CNFH to ensure a healthy population of these fish for commercial, recreational and ecological purposes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“These fish were born at the height of the drought in 2014,” said Jay Rowan, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) North Central Region Senior Environmental Scientist. “They were trucked to the Delta as fry and released near Rio Vista and the San Pablo Bay as part of a massive effort to improve their chances for survival in a year of poor river conditions.”

Returning now as adults, many of these salmon will stray into the American River and not return to their home waters to spawn. The lack of returning fish will make it extremely difficult for the CNFH to reach their goal of producing 12 million fall-run Chinook salmon this fall to release in the waters below Lake Shasta.

CDFW is partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), with the support of the Bureau of Reclamation, to collect eggs at Nimbus Fish Hatchery to assist CNFH in meeting its production goals and maintaining a stable salmon population on Battle Creek and the upper Sacramento River.

When the salmon reach Nimbus Hatchery, staff will separate out the fish that have had their adipose fin removed, indicating that they carry a tiny coded wire tag that records their hatchery of origin. Fish identified as being of CNFH origin will be spawned with one another, and their fertilized eggs returned to CNFH. Fish that have not had their adipose fin removed will be spawned and their eggs held until it is determined if they will be needed to meet CNFH production goals.  Fish that are not yet ready to spawn will have a colored tag attached to their dorsal fin and will be returned to the American River, where they will be available to anglers until they either spawn naturally or climb the ladder again and are spawned at the hatchery to meet the Nimbus Fish Hatchery egg collection goals. While anglers are able to catch and keep fish marked with these tags, the tags have no monetary value and do not need to be returned to CDFW.

Nimbus Hatchery visitors can observe salmon in the fish ladder and view the spawning process through windows in the Visitor Center. For more information about spawning schedules and educational opportunities at Nimbus Hatchery, please visit the CDFW website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/hatcheries/nimbus.

Media Contacts:
Laura Drath, CDFW North Central Region, (916) 358-2884
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 201-2958
Shane Hunt, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (916) 930-5604

New Regulations for Recreational Lobster Fishing Take Effect for 2017 Opener

As the popular recreational California Spiny Lobster fishing season prepares to open on Saturday, Sept. 30, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds divers and hoop netters of new regulations that will be in effect for the 2017-2018 season. The California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) adopted commercial and recreational lobster fishing regulations at its April 2016 meeting to support the implementation of the California Spiny Lobster Fishery Management Plan. A summary of the new recreational lobster fishing regulations is provided below. All other recreational lobster fishing regulations, unless listed below, remain unchanged and remain in effect:

The 2017-2018 recreational lobster fishing season will open at 6 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. The start time of the recreational lobster fishing season has changed from 12:01 a.m. to 6 a.m. for safety purposes. Open season: From 6 a.m. on the Saturday preceding the first Wednesday in October through the first Wednesday after March 15 (CCR Title 14, section 29.90 (a)).

Hoop net buoys south of Point Arguello (Santa Barbara County) must now be marked for identification and enforcement purposes. Hoop nets used south of Point Arguello shall be marked with a surface buoy. The surface buoy shall be legibly marked to identify the operator’s GO ID number as stated on the operator’s sport fishing license or lobster report card (shared hoop nets can be marked with multiple GO ID numbers, or GO ID numbers can be switched out by using any sort of removable tag on or attached to the buoy, so long as the GO ID numbers are all legible). Hoop nets deployed by persons on shore or manmade structures connected to the shore are not required to be marked with a surface buoy (CCR Title 14, section 29.80 (b)(3)). Hoop nets deployed from Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels must be marked with the boat’s Fish and Game Vessel ID number, and hoop nets provided by licensed guides to clients must be marked with the guide’s license number.

Divers may be in possession of spearfishing equipment while diving for crustaceans (including lobsters). Language on the possession of a hooked device while taking lobster has changed to provide clarification for both recreational divers and enforcement. Diving for crustaceans: In all ocean waters, except as provided in section 29.05, skin and SCUBA divers may take crustaceans by the use of the hands only. Divers may not possess any hooked device while diving or attempting to dive. Divers may be in possession of spearfishing equipment as long as possession of such equipment is otherwise lawful and is not being used to aid in the take of crustaceans (CCR Title 14, section 29.80 (g)).

Measuring requirements have been clarified in order to allow for measuring lobster aboard a boat. The change will allow hoop netters to bring spiny lobster aboard a vessel where they can be measured safely. All lobsters shall be measured immediately and any undersize lobster shall be released immediately into the water. Divers shall measure lobsters while in the water and shall not remove undersized lobsters from the water. Hoop netters may measure lobsters out of the water, but no undersize lobster may be placed in any type of receiver, kept on the person or retained in any person’s possession or under his or her direct control (CCR Title 14, section 29.90 (c)).

For additional information and a list of frequently asked questions about this program, please visit CDFW’s California Spiny Lobster webpage.

Media Contacts:
Tom Mason, CDFW Marine Region, (562) 417-2791
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 201-2958