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

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

Chinook Salmon

CDFW Awards $10.7 Million for Fisheries Habitat Restoration Program Projects

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of 27 projects that will receive funding for the restoration, enhancement and protection of anadromous salmonid habitat in California watersheds.

The grants, which total $10.7 million, were awarded through CDFW’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP). Established in 1981, FRGP has included funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund since 2000. The federal fund was established by Congress in 2000 to reverse the declines of Pacific salmon and steelhead throughout California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska.

“The ongoing momentum to restore California’s habitat for these historic species hasn’t stopped as we face a global pandemic and devastating wildfires,” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “Awarding these projects highlights the resilience, passion and vision for salmon recovery by our state’s restoration community, for which we are grateful.”

In response to the 2020 Fisheries Habitat Restoration Grant Solicitation, CDFW received 80 proposals requesting more than $40.6 million in funding. As part of the competitive grant program, proposals underwent a rigorous technical review by CDFW and NOAA scientists.

The 27 approved projects will further the objectives of state and federal fisheries recovery plans, including removing barriers to fish migration, restoring riparian habitat, monitoring of listed populations, and creating a more resilient and sustainably managed water resources system (e.g., water supply, water quality and habitat) that can better withstand drought conditions. These projects further the goals of California’s Water Action Plan and CDFW’s State Wildlife Action Plan, as well as addressing limiting factors specified in state and federal recovery plans.

The list of approved projects is available on the FRGP website.

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Media Contacts:
Matt Wells, Watershed Restoration Grants Branch, (916) 216-7848
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

Commercial Dungeness Crab Update

The commercial Dungeness crab season in the central management area, Point Arena to the Mexico border, will continue to be delayed due to the presence of whales within fishing grounds and the potential for entanglement. The commercial Dungeness crab season in the northern management area was scheduled to open Sunday, Dec. 1, but was delayed until at least Wednesday, Dec. 16 due to low meat quality. Meat quality testing and delays are a long-standing tri-state industry supported component of the season opener to ensure high quality crab at the start of the fisheries in northern California, Oregon and Washington. In early December, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director will re-assess entanglement risk in the central management area and evaluate risk in the northern management area to inform the season opener for both areas.

CDFW in partnership with researchers, federal agencies and the fishing industry has conducted surveys from the Oregon state line to the Channel Islands to observe marine life concentrations. CDFW has conducted five aerial surveys since late October and more than 10 vessel-based surveys have been conducted by researchers and the fishing industry. Additional sources of data include observations from a network of observers spread across three national marine sanctuaries.

Based on those data sources, “CDFW, after consulting with the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group, is enacting a delay in the central management area,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “Available data indicates the whales still remain in the fishing grounds. This risk assessment focused on the central management area because the northern management area was already delayed due to low meat quality. CDFW staff, collaborators and partners have scheduled additional surveys in the next few weeks that, weather permitting, are anticipated to provide the data necessary to reassess whale presence. Our hope is both quality testing and additional marine life survey data will support a unified statewide opener on Dec. 16, just in time to have crab for the holidays and New Year.”

CDFW is planning additional aerial surveys for the first week of December to inform a risk assessment in advance of Dec. 16. When the data indicates the whales have migrated out of the fishing grounds, CDFW stands ready to open the commercial season.

For more information related to the risk assessment process or this delay, please visit CDFW’s Whale Safe Fisheries page.

For more information on Dungeness crab, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/crab.

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Media Contacts:
Ryan Bartling, CDFW Marine Region, (415) 761-1843
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937