Category Archives: Fishing (Commercial)

California’s Drought, Poor Ocean Conditions Impact Salmon Forecast for 2018

Commercial and sport anglers received mixed news today regarding the status of Sacramento River fall Chinook and Klamath River fall Chinook – California’s two largest Chinook salmon populations. While adult returns of both stocks were well below minimum escapement goals in 2017, and projected abundance for both stocks is modest compared to historic averages, state and federal fishery scientists reported an increase in the number of jacks (two-year-old Chinook) that returned to spawn in 2017. Higher jack returns, as seen in 2017, can indicate the potential for increased abundance of adult (three years old or older) Chinook for 2018 fisheries.

Forecasts presented at today’s annual Salmon Information Meeting suggest there are 229,400 Sacramento River fall Chinook adults in the ocean this year, along with 359,200 Klamath River fall Chinook adults. While the Sacramento River fall Chinook forecast is comparable to last year, there are greater numbers of Klamath River fall Chinook projected to be in the ocean in 2018. Fall Chinook from these runs typically comprise the majority of salmon taken in California’s ocean and inland fisheries.

The effects of the recent drought are still impacting California’s salmon populations. Outbound juvenile Chinook suffered unusually high mortality because of low flows and high water temperatures in both the Sacramento and Klamath watersheds in 2014 and 2015. Unsuitable river conditions, coupled with persistently poor ocean conditions during the same period, resulted in very low numbers of adult Chinook returning to spawn in both the Klamath and Sacramento River basins in 2017.

Over the next two months, the Pacific Fishery Management Council will use the 2018 fall Chinook ocean abundance forecasts, in addition to information on the status of endangered Sacramento River winter Chinook, to set ocean sport and commercial fishing season dates, commercial quotas and size and bag limits.

At the same time, fishery managers with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will be working to develop a suite of recommendations for the California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) to consider on 2018 fishing seasons, size limits and bag limits for Chinook salmon river fishing in the Klamath/Trinity and Sacramento River basins. For more information, please visit the FGC Sport Fishing Regulations website.

For more information on the process for setting the California ocean salmon season or for general information about ocean salmon fishing, please visit the Ocean Salmon Project website. For the latest ocean salmon season regulations, please call the CDFW ocean salmon hotline at (707) 576-3429 or the National Marine Fisheries Service salmon fishing hotline at (800) 662-9825.

For the latest inland salmon season regulations in the Klamath/Trinity basin, call (800) 564-6479, and in the Central Valley, please visit the CDFW Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations website.


Media Contacts:
Kandice Morgenstern, CDFW Marine Region, (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 Salmon Information Meeting to learn more about the state of California’s salmon fishery. The meeting will be held Thursday, March 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sonoma County Water Agency, 404 Aviation Blvd. in Santa Rosa (95403).

A review of last year’s ocean salmon fisheries and spawning escapement will be presented along with the outlook for this year’s sport and commercial ocean salmon fisheries.

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, state, federal and tribal agencies, and west coast stakeholders interested in salmon fishery management and conservation. Public input will help California representatives develop a range of recommended season alternatives during the March 8-14 PFMC meeting in Rohnert Park, Calif. Final adoption of ocean salmon season regulations will occur during the April 5-11 PFMC meeting in Portland, Ore.

The 2018 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 web page,

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

Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program Evaluation Report Now Available

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has released the Evaluation Report for the Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program (OREHP).

The report concludes that while the OREHP has significantly contributed to the scientific understanding of marine enhancement science, it has not substantially increased the abundance of legal-sized White Seabass, resulting in less than one percent contribution to recreational and commercial fisheries catches. The information generated by the program, to date, can be used as a learning experience for enhancement of wild populations, whether focusing on White Seabass or other species. CDFW will use this information along with public input to guide decisions regarding the future of the OREHP.

The OREHP was established by the California Legislature in 1983 to conduct research into the restoration and enhancement of marine finfish species populations important to California for their sport and commercial fishing value. The program, the longest-running experimental marine fish stock enhancement program in the United States, is managed by CDFW with the assistance of the Ocean Resources Enhancement Advisory Panel. The OREHP includes a marine fish hatchery operated by Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI), and 10 growout pens operated by volunteer organizations throughout Southern California. White Seabass are raised at the hatchery and transported to the growout pens for their eventual release along the coast.

In 2015, CDFW contracted California Sea Grant (CASG) to coordinate the first formal, comprehensive review of the program’s progress toward achieving its goals and objectives. With guidance from CDFW and HSWRI, CASG recommended a science advisory committee comprised of nine scientists from around the country to evaluate the program. The committee, appointed by CDFW Director, Charlton H. Bonham, included members with expertise in a wide variety of disciplines, including aquaculture, fish pathology, population dynamics, genetics and water quality.

During the two-year review process, the committee assessed the hatchery’s functionality and efficiency, considered alternative hatchery uses, assessed environmental impacts, documented scientific accomplishments, assessed economic costs and benefits, and evaluated the extent to which the OREHP has succeeded in enhancing wild White Seabass stocks. The report details the committee’s evaluation process, including development of scientific review criteria, summary and synthesis of all available OREHP data, and identification of key findings, gaps in information, and recommendations for better meeting the program’s objectives and goals.

CDFW will conduct public scoping meetings in Southern California to receive comments on the evaluation and discuss potential next steps for the OREHP in early 2018.

Media Contacts:
Valerie Taylor, CDFW Marine Region, (562) 342-7170
Kathryn Johnson, CDFW Marine Region, (562) 342-7179
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Commercial Spiny Lobster Fishery Closure Lifted Near Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands

Today the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham lifted the commercial spiny lobster fishery closure in state waters around the northeast side of Santa Cruz Island and the south side of Anacapa Island as recommended by state health agencies. According to the notice from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, 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. The commercial spiny lobster fishery is now open statewide and CDPH lifted the recreational fishery consumption warning for the area.

On Oct. 24, 2017, state health agencies determined that spiny lobster in waters around 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.

For more information, please see:

Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (1/25/18)

CDFW Declaration (1/25/18)

CDFW information about Health Advisories and Closures for California Finfish, Shellfish and Crustaceans 

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

Open Area of Commercial Rock Crab Fishery to be Extended to Salt Point, Sonoma County

Following the recommendation of state health agencies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today that it has extended the area open to commercial rock crab fishing from 38° 34′ N. Lat. (Salt Point, 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 on Nov. 8, 2016. On Jan.1, 2017, new authority established in the Fish and Game Code, section 5523, allowed the Director to continue the closure. Opportunistic sampling of rock crabs and continued high domoic acid levels have prevented the reopening of fishing grounds north of Bodega Bay, Sonoma County since Feb. 2017. 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. The recreational fishery for rock crab remains open statewide with a warning from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera of rock crab caught north of Salt Point, Sonoma County to the California/Oregon border.

Closure of the commercial rock crab fishery north of Salt Point, Sonoma County to the California/Oregon border 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 opened. CDFW will continue to coordinate with fishermen and CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in rock crab within the closure area of the coast. 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 (1/16/2018)


Media Contacts:
Christy Juhasz, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2887
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937