Category Archives: Marine

Northern California Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Opener Pushed Back to Dec. 31

The director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has announced an additional 15-day delay for the upcoming commercial Dungeness crab season, based on the results of another round of pre-season quality testing conducted on Dec. 5. The tests continued to show that Dungeness crab are not yet ready for harvesting.

The delay affects Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties). The season in these districts is now scheduled to open on 12:01 a.m. Dec. 31, 2017, to be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Dec. 28, 2017.

Crab quality tests are conducted regularly to ensure that crab are filled out enough prior to harvesting. Tests follow guidelines established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee, which is overseen by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Additional testing will be scheduled to occur by Dec. 22. If quality remains low, an additional delay until Jan. 15, 2018 will be issued by the director. This date is the latest the season can be delayed due to quality testing.

No vessel may take or land crab within Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 during the closure period.  In addition, any vessel that lands crab from ocean waters outside of Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 is prohibited from participating in the crab fishery in Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9, or any other delayed opening areas in Oregon or Washington, for 30 days following the opening of those areas as outline in California’s Fair Start Provision (Fish and Game Code, section 8279.1).

The director’s memo can be found here.

The updated Frequently Asked Questions for the current 2017-18 season addresses questions regarding the Fair Start provision.

For more information on health advisories related to fisheries, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories.

For more information about Dungeness crab fisheries in California, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab.

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

California Recreational Abalone Fishery to be Closed in 2018

The California Fish and Game Commission yesterday voted to close the 2018 northern California recreational abalone fishery due to ongoing environmental conditions that have significantly impacted the abalone resource. The closure affects next year’s recreational abalone season, which was scheduled to open on April 1, 2018.

The Commission’s 4-0 decision (Commissioner Jacque Hostler-Carmesin was absent) upholds the policies of the Abalone Recovery and Management Plan, which was adopted by the Commission in December 2005. Over the past several years, the Commission has taken several actions to reduce take and shorten the season to protect abalone from the unprecedented environmental conditions.

The Commission directed the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to work with stakeholders to deliver a new fishery management plan that includes guidance on navigating these unprecedented conditions. The Commission also directed CDFW to consider how the new fishery management plan can inform the potential reopening of some fishing opportunity for the 2019 season.

More information about California’s recreational abalone fisheries can be found on the CDFW website.

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

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

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

Commercial Spiny Lobster Fishery Closed at Anacapa Island and the East End of Santa Cruz Island Due to Public Health Hazard

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham has enacted a commercial spiny lobster fishery closure effective immediately.

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. The recreational fishery for spiny lobster remains open statewide with a warning from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera (tomalley) of spiny lobster.

The commercial closure includes 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 extend three nautical miles beyond outermost islands, reefs and rocks.

This closure shall remain in effect until the Director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (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. 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.

Pursuant to Fish and Game Code Section 5523, the Director of CDFW will notify the Fish and Game Commission of the closure and request that the Commission schedule a public discussion of the closure at its next scheduled meeting.

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:
Advisory from CDPH (10/24/2017)

Memo from OEHHA (10/24/17)

CDFW Declaration of Fisheries Closure (10/24/2017)

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

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

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.

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

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