CDFW Transitioning to Electronic Hunting and Fishing Regulations Booklets in 2021

As part of a broader effort to go paperless, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is transitioning to a digital format for its 2021 hunting and fishing regulations booklets and Big Game Hunting Digest. Booklets will no longer be printed and shipped to license agents or customers but electronic versions of the booklets will continue to be available online.

“Not only is this shift best for the environment because of the reduction of many thousands of short-term paper booklets being produced, the cost to print and ship the booklets is significant,” said CDFW Wildlife and Fisheries Division Deputy Director Stafford Lehr. “Another benefit is that the money saved by going paperless will be redirected to fish and wildlife conservation.”

The transition to paperless regulations booklets follows a two-year effort to reduce the number of hard copy booklets printed and shipped to license agents and is consistent with the governor’s directive to reduce paper usage.

As in previous years, digital booklets are available at wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations and can be downloaded as PDFs to your computer, cellular phone or other electronic device. Hunters and anglers are encouraged to download the digital booklets to their mobile devices and familiarize themselves with the digital format prior to hunting and/or fishing trips.

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Media Contacts: 
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications, (916) 825-7120

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

CDFW Seeks Input on 2021 Recreational Pacific Halibut Season Dates

California anglers who are interested in the recreational Pacific halibut fishery are invited to participate in an online survey to help inform the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) about angler preferences for open fishing dates during the upcoming 2021 season. Results of the survey, which is open until Feb. 17, will be used to develop recommended season dates that will be provided to the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The Pacific halibut fishery takes place off northern California. The 2021 quota will be 39,000 net pounds, the same quota as in 2019 and 2020.

For more information on the Pacific halibut fishery in California, please visit CDFW’s Pacific Halibut web page.

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Media Contacts:
Melanie Parker, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 649-2814
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Many Californians Took to the Woods and Waters in 2020

Fishing, Hunting License Sales Soar Amid Pandemic

With more free time on their hands, a growing interest in securing their own food, coupled with the needs for physical outlets and mental relief as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, more Californians turned to fishing and hunting last year.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) issued nearly two million sport fishing licenses in 2020, an 11 percent increase from 2019. Of those, 1,201,237 were annual resident sport fishing licenses, a 19 percent increase over 2019. Not since 2008 has CDFW issued as many sport fishing licenses as it did last year.

California hunter numbers also spiked. CDFW issued nearly 300,000 California hunting licenses in 2020, a nine percent increase from the previous year. Of those, 244,040 were annual resident hunting licenses – an 11 percent increase from the previous year.

About 16 percent of the annual resident hunting licenses issued last year – 43,450 – went to first-time license holders. Another 12 percent of those hunting licenses – 31,835 – went to reactivated hunters, meaning residents who didn’t purchase a California hunting license in 2019, but held one in a prior year.

“We recognize it’s important to provide an outlet for recreation, mental and physical health during these difficult times, and we’ve worked hard as a department to keep hunting and fishing opportunities open, available and safe as much as possible,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “We’re especially excited to welcome so many new hunters and new anglers of all ages and all backgrounds. A California fishing or hunting license is a passport to outdoor adventure and a gateway to healthy living, environmental stewardship, good times and lifetime learning.”

Hunters and anglers play a crucial role in managing natural resources by regulating wildlife populations to maintain ecological and biological diversity, participating in surveys for scientific data collection and reporting wildlife crimes. Hunters and anglers also help sustain a multibillion-dollar outdoor recreation industry and provide a significant funding source for fish and wildlife conservation in California.

Amid the global pandemic in 2020, CDFW created new virtual learning resources for hunters and anglers while instituting COVID-19 safeguards and precautions on the ground to keep hunting and fishing opportunities open and safe for both staff and participants. Among those efforts:

  • The Harvest Huddle Hour (R3H3) debuted. Part of CDFW’s R3 initiative to recruit, retain, and reactivate hunters and anglers in California, the virtual seminar series for beginning adult audiences is intended to increase knowledge and confidence around skillsets required to harvest wild food in California. The seminars, archived online at the CDFW website, included “Intro to California Inland Fishing,” “Bag and Possession Limits and Gifting Your Take,” “Intro to Foraging,” “Tackle Box Basics” and “Intro to Turkey Hunting.” More topics in hunting, fishing, foraging and the shooting sports are planned for 2021.
  • Beginning in May, CDFW’s Hunter Education Program allowed aspiring hunters to complete their hunter education requirements entirely online. Prior to COVID-19, California offered a traditional in-person course or a hybrid online/in-person class with a certified Hunter Education Instructor.
  • CDFW’s Hunter Education Program also moved its Advanced Hunter Education Clinics – focused on the how-to of hunting – to an online, webinar format in 2020. The webinars, archived online at the CDFW website, included “Waterfowl Reservation System and Refuge Operations,” “Waterfowl Wednesday,” “Upland Opportunities” and “Band-tailed Pigeons – What They Are and How to Hunt Them.” More topics are planned for 2021.
  • CDFW’s Fishing in the City Program, which provides angling opportunities for city dwellers and suburban residents, continued with trout and catfish plants in neighborhood park ponds and suburban lakes even though it had to suspend in-person fishing clinics. Fishing in the City created a series of “learn to fish” videos to help newcomers get started in fishing – and help parents get their kids started in fishing.
  • CDFW instituted COVID-19-related safeguards and operational changes at all state-operated wildlife areas and refuges — popular with hunters, anglers, wildlife watchers, hikers, and others — to keep these areas open and accessible throughout 2020 and into 2021.

New Recreational Groundfish Regulations For 2021

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announces that multiple changes to the recreational groundfish regulations will take effect in the new year.

CDFW worked closely with recreational stakeholders to develop the following changes, effective January 1, 2021. See CDFW’s summary of recreational groundfish regulations for Management Area boundary definitions.

  • Elimination of sub-bag limits for black rockfish, canary rockfish and cabezon within the 10-fish Rockfish, Cabezon, Greenling (RCG) complex daily bag limit.
  • A new sub-bag limit of five vermilion rockfish within the 10-fish RCG complex daily bag limit.
  • The Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) boundary will increase to 30 fathoms (180 feet) in the Mendocino Management Area during the regular open season (May 1-October 31).
  • The RCA boundary will increase to 50 fathoms (300 feet) in the San Francisco Management Area during the open season (April 1-December 31).
  • The RCA boundary will increase to 100 fathoms (600 feet) in the Southern Management Area during the open season (March 1-December 31).
  • For consistency with federal regulations, the legal method of take for California scorpionfish has been updated such that no more than two hooks and one line may be used when angling for this species.
  • The ‘All Depth’ fishery in the Northern and Mendocino Management Areas will continue each November and December, unless modified by an in-season action.

The new regulations were adopted by the California Fish and Game Commission in mid-October and the Pacific Fishery Management Council in July. Anglers should check CDFW’s website for the current regulations before fishing for groundfish and are advised that regulations printed in the 2020-21 ocean regulations book will be out of date starting January 1, 2021.

The 30, 50 and 100 fathom depth contours are defined by straight lines connecting the waypoints as adopted in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 50, Part 660, Subpart C.

Many of these changes were made in response to the outcomes of recent stock assessment science. Populations of yelloweye rockfish and cowcod, which were declared overfished in 2002 and 2000 respectively, are increasing faster than anticipated and the cowcod population was declared rebuilt based on the 2019 stock assessment.

“The good news for 2021 is groundfish populations are rebounding,” said CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Caroline McKnight. “Of the eight stocks that were declared overfished in the early 2000s, all but one, yelloweye rockfish, has been declared rebuilt today. The improved status of these species allows fishery managers to recommend management measures that provide additional fishing opportunity, including access to deeper depths that have been off limits to anglers for more than a decade.”

The implementation of a new five-fish sub-bag limit for vermilion rockfish within the 10-fish RCG complex daily bag limit may come as a surprise to some anglers. Recreational catch of vermilion rockfish has increased significantly in recent years, but stock status information is dated. While a new stock assessment for vermilion rockfish is planned for 2021, the results won’t be available for use in management until 2023. In the interim, the new five-fish vermilion rockfish sub-bag limit has been implemented as a precautionary measure to slow catches.

Take and possession of bronzespotted rockfish, cowcod and yelloweye rockfish remain prohibited statewide.

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 webpage.

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Media Contacts:
Melanie Parker, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 649-2814
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937