Category Archives: Fishing (Commercial)

Low Salmon Projections Lead to Fisheries Restrictions, Some Closures in 2017

Historically low numbers of fall-run and winter-run Chinook salmon have prompted the California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) to drastically limit the state’s salmon fishery for the remainder of 2017.

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In the Klamath Management Zone, which is the area between the Oregon/California border and Horse Mountain (40° 05’ 00” N. latitude), the entire ocean salmon fishery will be closed, as will the fall-run Chinook fishery on both the Klamath and Trinity rivers.

Returning stock projections for fall-run Chinook in the Klamath River Basin are the lowest on record. By limiting, and in some cases closing, the fisheries for the remainder of 2017, the FGC hopes to maximize fall- and winter-run Chinook survival and reproduction and support efforts to rebuild the fisheries.

“Closing an entire fishing season is not something that I take lightly, but the survival of the fall-run Chinook in the Klamath and Trinity rivers is at stake,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham. “CDFW and other fisheries management partners agree that these restrictions are necessary to help recover this vital species.”

Inland, spring-run Chinook fishing will still be allowed through Aug. 14 on the Klamath River and through Aug. 31 on the Trinity River. After these dates, both fisheries will close for the remainder of the calendar year. However, the nearby Smith River will remain open for fall-run Chinook, and there are additional opportunities in southern Oregon rivers. During the salmon season closure, steelhead angling will still be allowed in both the Klamath and Trinity rivers.

The ocean salmon season north of Horse Mountain will be completely closed in 2017. All areas south of Horse Mountain opened on April 1 and will remain open, with some restrictions, as follows.

  • In the Fort Bragg area, which extends from Horse Mountain to Point Arena (38° 57’ 30” N. latitude), the season will continue through May 31, reopening Aug. 15 and extending through Nov. 12 with a 20-inch minimum size limit for the season. The summer closure in this area is also related to the limited numbers of Klamath River fall-run Chinook.
  • In the San Francisco area, which extends from Point Arena to Pigeon Point (37° 11’ 00” N. latitude), the season will close on April 30 under a 24-inch minimum size limit, and reopen on May 15 through Oct. 31 with a 20-inch minimum size limit.
  • In the Monterey area between Pigeon Point and Point Sur (36° 18’ 00” N. latitude), the season will continue through July 15, while areas south of Point Sur will continue through May 31. The minimum size limit south of Pigeon Point will remain 24-inches total length.

Other restrictions for these areas are as follows:

  • The daily bag limit is two salmon per day of any species except coho salmon and no more than two daily bag limits may be possessed when on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit. CDFW reminds anglers that retention of coho (also known as silver salmon) is prohibited in all ocean fisheries.
  • For anglers fishing north of Point Conception (34° 27’ 00” N. latitude), no more than two single-point, single-shank barbless hooks shall be used, and no more than one rod may be used per angler when fishing for salmon or fishing from a boat with salmon on board. In addition, barbless circle hooks are required when fishing with bait by any means other than trolling between Horse Mountain and Point Conception.

Shortened ocean salmon seasons in northern California were necessary partly because data show that Klamath River fall-run Chinook are most likely to be caught in ocean areas near the Klamath River mouth, with impacts on this stock decreasing the further south fishing opportunity occurs.

Concerns are also high for endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook, contributing to the decision to shorten ocean fishing seasons in areas south of Pigeon Point. Three consecutive years of low juvenile numbers, coupled with unusually warm and unproductive ocean conditions, led fishery managers and industry representatives to implement protections beyond those required by the Endangered Species Act biological opinion and the federal salmon Fishery Management Plan’s harvest control rule. Fishery data suggest that winter-run Chinook are concentrated south of Pigeon Point, especially south of Point Sur, during the summer and early fall. Ocean fishery closures and size limit restrictions implemented in the Monterey management areas are intended to minimize contact with winter-run Chinook.

Klamath fall-run Chinook are currently classified under the federal plan as “approaching an overfished condition.” Given the poor return of adults to the river the past two years, coupled with returns this fall that are expected to be just as poor or even worse, the stock is expected to be classified as “overfished” in 2018. As a result, CDFW will be working with federal and tribal partners to develop a Rebuilding Plan for Klamath River fall-run Chinook next year.

CDFW and the FGC are tasked with managing the state’s fishery resources to ensure sustainability. Given the stock status, extra precaution is warranted. Every fish counts this year – especially every fish returning to the river to spawn.

Media Contacts:
Karen Mitchell (Klamath and Trinity), CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 445-0826
Kandice Morgenstern (Ocean Salmon), CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2879
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

2017 Salmon Forecasts Point to Reduced Fishing Opportunities

Commercial and sport anglers have received unwelcome news on the predicted return of Chinook salmon this year to California waters. State and federal fishery scientists presented updates on the numbers of spawning Chinook and the expected abundance for the upcoming fishing season at the annual Ocean Salmon Information Meeting held in Santa Rosa today.

Forecasts suggest there are 230,700 Sacramento River fall run Chinook adults in the ocean this year, along with 54,200 Klamath River fall run adults. Both forecasts are lower than those of recent years, with the forecast for Klamath fall run being among the lowest on record. Salmon from these runs typically comprise the majority of salmon taken in California’s ocean and inland fisheries.

“With a poor forecast for Klamath fall run and continued concerns over the winter run, California anglers will see reduced Chinook fishing opportunity as compared to last year,” said Brett Kormos, a senior environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

Chinook that will be harvested in ocean fisheries in 2017 hatched two to four years ago, and were deeply affected by poor river conditions driven by California’s recent drought.

CDFW and federal fish agency partners have expended millions of dollars on measures to minimize the impacts of the drought. These efforts have included trucking the majority of hatchery salmon smolts to acclimation pens in the lower Delta, improving hatchery infrastructure to keep juvenile fish alive under poor water quality conditions and partnering with sport and commercial fishermen to increase smolt survival. Though all of these efforts helped, other environmental factors – such as unusually warm water conditions in the ocean – were beyond human control.

The 2017 forecasts, in addition to information on endangered Sacramento River winter Chinook, will be used over the next two months by fishery managers to set sport and commercial fishing season dates, commercial quotas, and size and bag limits.

Season dates and other regulations will be developed by the Pacific Fishery Management Council and California Fish and Game Commission over the next two months. For more information on the salmon season setting process or general ocean salmon fishing information, please visit the Ocean Salmon Project website or call the salmon fishing hotline at (707) 576-3429.

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Media Contacts:
Kandice Morgenstern, CDFW Ocean Salmon Project, (707) 576-2879

Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

CDFW to Host Public Meeting on Ocean Salmon Fisheries

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

The meeting will be held Wednesday, March 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sonoma County Water Agency, 404 Aviation Blvd. in Santa Rosa (95403).

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

Salmon fishing seasons are developed through a collaborative process involving the PFMC, the California Fish and Game Commission and the National Marine Fisheries Service. Public input will help California representatives develop a range of recommended season alternatives during the PFMC March 7-13 meeting in Vancouver, Wash. Final adoption of ocean salmon season regulations will occur during the PFMC April 6-11 meeting in Sacramento.

The 2017 Ocean Salmon Information 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 is available on CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage.

The meeting agenda and handouts will be posted online as soon as they become available.

Media Contacts:
Kandice Morgenstern, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2879
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

Commercial Rock Crab Fishery Now Extends to Bodega Bay

Following the recommendation of state health agencies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today that it will extend the open area of the commercial rock crab fishery northward to Bodega Bay in Sonoma County.

  • On Feb. 10 the commercial rock crab fishery is open from 38° 18′ N. Lat. (Bodega Bay, Sonoma County) south to the California/Mexico border.

At the recommendation of the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham submitted to the Office of Administrative Law an emergency rulemaking to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point, San Mateo County. Because of this, on Nov. 8, OEHHA, in consultation with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), recommended to CDFW to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point. State and federal laws prohibit the commercial distribution of seafood products that contain domoic acid levels above the federal action level of 30 parts per million (ppm) in the viscera. The recreational fishery for rock crab remains open statewide with a warning from CDPH to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera of rock crab caught north of Bodega Bay.

Closure of the commercial rock crab fishery north of Bodega Bay shall remain in effect until the Director of OEHHA, in consultation with the Director of CDPH, determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommends the fishery be open. In the meantime, CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in rock crab within the closure area of the coast. CDPH, in conjunction with CDFW, has been actively testing crabs since early September. The most recent test results showed that domoic acid in rock crabs from Bodega Bay and Point Reyes had fallen below the alert level of 30 ppm in their viscera.

Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes fish. It causes illness and sometimes death in a variety of birds and marine mammals that consume affected organisms. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and can in some cases be fatal.

For more information:

Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (2/10/2017)

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

www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab

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

Open Area for the Commercial Rock Crab Fishery Now Extends to Pillar Point, San Mateo County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today that effective immediately the open area of the commercial rock crab fishery extends northward to Pillar Point, San Mateo County at the recommendation of state health agencies.

  • On Jan. 25 the commercial rock crab fishery is open from 37° 30′ N. Lat. (Pillar Point San Mateo County) south to the California/Mexico border.

At the recommendation of the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham submitted to the Office of Administrative Law an emergency rulemaking to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point, San Mateo County. State and federal laws prohibit the commercial distribution of seafood products that contain domoic acid levels above the federal action level of 30 parts per million in the viscera. Because of this, on Nov. 8, OEHHA, in consultation with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), recommended to CDFW to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point. The recreational fishery for rock crab remains open statewide with a warning from CDPH to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera of rock crab caught north of Pillar Point, San Mateo County.

Closure of the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pillar Point shall remain in effect until the Director of OEHHA, in consultation with the Director of CDPH, determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommends the fishery be open. In the meantime, CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in rock crab within the closure area of the coast. CDPH, in conjunction with CDFW, has been actively testing crabs since early September and results from the most recent tests showed that rock crabs from Point Reyes had elevated levels of domoic acid in their viscera. Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes fish. It causes illness and sometimes death in a variety of birds and marine mammals that consume affected organisms. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and can in some cases be fatal.

For more information:

Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (1/25/2017)

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

www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab

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