Category Archives: Marine

July 6 is Free Fishing Day in California

Mark your calendars for the first of two 2019 Free Fishing Days in California, when anyone can try their hand at angling – no fishing license required. If you would like to fish the rest of the year, you can purchase a license online through CDFW’s website.

“Free Fishing Day is a great opportunity for seasoned anglers to introduce friends and neighbors to their love of the sport,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham.

A basic annual resident sport fishing license in California currently costs $49.94, while a one-day sport fishing license costs $16.20. CDFW offers two Free Fishing Days each year – usually around the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend – when it’s legal to fish without either an annual or one-day license. This year, the first of the two Free Fishing Days falls on the Saturday of Independence Day weekend. The second will be on Saturday, Aug. 31.

All fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect. Every angler must have an appropriate report card if they are fishing for steelhead or sturgeon anywhere in the state, or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems.

Anglers can review the sport fishing regulations online (www.wildlife.ca.gov/regulations) or use CDFW’s mobile web site to view freshwater limits and regulations specific to a body of water (https://map.dfg.ca.gov/sportfishingregs/).

Please note: CDFW has recently been made aware of customer complaints that third party websites are offering California fishing licenses for sale at greatly inflated prices. We urge customers not to provide credit card numbers, social security numbers or any other personal information to these sites. The CDFW website, License and Revenue Branch locations and CDFW license agents are the only state-authorized sources for California fishing licenses.

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Media Contact:
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Jen Benedet, CDFW Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation Program, (916) 903-9270

Great Start to the Recreational Pacific Halibut Fishery

The 2019 recreational Pacific Halibut season is off to a strong start! Since opening day on May 1, many north coast anglers have braved less-than-perfect weather and ocean conditions and were successful in pursuing this highly prized fish. Preliminary catch data available to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) through the first five days of the fishery indicates almost 2,500 pounds of fish were caught.

“This is a level of success more typically seen during the summer months,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Melanie Parker.

Again this year, the public can follow the progress of catch through the season compared to the quota on the CDFW Pacific Halibut webpage, which is updated weekly. The fishery is scheduled to be open through Oct. 31, or until the quota has been met, whichever comes first. The 2019 quota is 39,000 pounds, approximately 8,000 pounds greater than last year.

Up-to-date information on the status of the season can also be obtained by calling the National Marine Fisheries Service Halibut Hotline at (800) 662-9825 or the CDFW Recreational Groundfish Regulations Hotline at (831) 649-2801.

State regulations for Pacific Halibut automatically conform to federal regulations using the process described in the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.95.  Federal regulations for Pacific halibut were published in Federal Register 84, section 17960, on April 29, 2019 and took effect as of that date.

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Media Contacts:
Melanie Parker, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 649-2814
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

Recreational Ocean Salmon Seasons Opening in May

Ocean salmon anglers off the California coast will be able to spend more time on the water this year chasing after Chinook Salmon (also known as King Salmon). Sport fisheries in the Klamath Management Zone will open from late May through early September. Fort Bragg and San Francisco areas will reopen mid-May after a short-term closure and will continue through the end of October. The Monterey management area is open now and remains open through late August.

The 2019 recreational ocean salmon season dates for the California coast are as follows:

  • In the Klamath Management Zone, which is the area between the Oregon/California border and Horse Mountain (40°05’00” N. latitude), the season will open May 25 and continue through Sept. 2.
  • The Fort Bragg and San Francisco areas, which extend from Horse Mountain to Point Arena (38°57’30” N. latitude) and Point Arena to Pigeon Point (37°11’00” N. latitude), respectively, opened April 13. Fishing closed on April 30, 2019, reopens on May 18 and will continue through Oct. 31.
  • The Monterey area between Pigeon Point and the U.S./Mexico border opened on April 6 and will continue through Aug. 28.

The minimum size limit is 20 inches total length in all areas north of Point Arena. In the San Francisco area, the minimum size limit was 24 inches total length through April 30. When this area reopens on May 18 it will be 20 inches total length for the duration of the season. In the Monterey area the minimum size limit is 24 inches total length for the whole season. The daily bag limit is two Chinook Salmon per day. 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. Retention of Coho Salmon (also known as Silver Salmon) is prohibited in all ocean fisheries off California.

Ocean salmon season lengths were restricted in certain areas to limit harvest of Sacramento River fall Chinook, the main stock supporting California’s ocean fishery. Under the terms of the federal Salmon Fishery Management Plan, this stock is classified as “overfished” following low returns of spawning adults in recent years. In an effort to hasten the rebuilding process, the Pacific Fishery Management Council made the decision to limit the fishery so that a greater number of adult fish return to the river to spawn this fall.

These season dates and size limit restrictions in combination also serve to minimize impacts of the ocean salmon fishery on ESA-listed Sacramento River winter Chinook and California Coastal Chinook stocks, as required by federal law.

Ocean salmon regulations in state waters automatically conform to federal regulations using the process described in the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.95. Federal regulations for ocean salmon were published in Federal Register 84, section 19729 on May 6, 2019, and were effective as of that date.

Public notification of any in-season change is made through the National Marine Fisheries Service Ocean Salmon Hotline. Before engaging in any fishing activity for ocean salmon, please check one of the following resources for the most up-to-date information:

  • CDFW website, www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon
  • National Marine Fisheries Service Ocean Salmon Hotline, (800) 662-9825
  • CDFW Ocean Salmon Hotline, (707) 576-3429

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

 

Recreational Pacific Halibut Fishery Opens May 1

The 2019 recreational Pacific halibut fishery will open Wednesday, May 1 and remain open until Oct. 31, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. The 2019 Pacific halibut quota for the California subarea is 39,000 pounds – about 8,000 pounds greater than the 2018 quota.

Pacific halibut have become a popular target species for north coast anglers in recent years, with some fish tipping the scales in excess of 80 pounds.

Since 2014, the California sport fishery has been subject to closed periods during the season to slow catches and spread fishing opportunities out over more months, but with the higher quota amount for 2019, the periodic closures aren’t necessary this year. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) conducted an online survey in February to collect input on preferred 2019 season dates.  More than 200 responses were received during the two weeks the survey was available.

The season dates are expected to continue to meet the goal of providing as much opportunity throughout the season while ensuring the quota is attained. The open dates are not guaranteed days, and the season could be closed early if it is determined that projected catches will exceed the California quota.

Again this year, field staff will be stationed at public launch ramps and charter boats landings to monitor catches of Pacific halibut along with other marine sportfish. If the catch is expected to reach or exceed the quota prior to Oct. 31, a closure date will be determined and the public will be notified.

The public can follow the progress of catch through the season on the CDFW Pacific halibut webpage, which will be updated weekly. Up-to-date information can also be obtained by calling the National Marine Fisheries Service Halibut Hotline at (800) 662-9825 or the CDFW Recreational Groundfish Regulations Hotline at (831) 649-2801.

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Media Contacts:
Melanie Parker, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 649-2814
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

Entanglement Settlement Protects Whales, Sea Turtles and California’s Crab Fishery

SAN FRANCISCO — Californians will be pleased to know that Dungeness crab will be caught off the coast with greater care for endangered wildlife under a settlement announced by the Center for Biological Diversity, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA).

The legal settlement protects whales and sea turtles from entanglement in commercial Dungeness crab gear. The Center for Biological Diversity sued CDFW in October 2017 after a drastic increase in the number of whale entanglements off the West Coast.

“As I’ve said many times, no one wants whale entanglements to happen,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “This agreement represents hours of intense negotiation to help ensure they don’t happen while supporting the resiliency of the crab fishery in the long run. I am thankful for the leadership of the Center for Biological Diversity and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations who realized something needed to be done together.”

“This is great news for whales and sea turtles fighting extinction off California’s coast,” said Kristen Monsell, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney. “The settlement will reduce serious threats from crab gear to these beautiful and highly endangered animals. This agreement is a turning point that gets us closer to zero entanglements and a healthy ocean.”

The lawsuit was brought by the Center for Biological Diversity against CDFW (Center for Biological Diversity v. Bonham) in federal court in San Francisco. The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, which represents crabbers, intervened in the lawsuit.

The settlement, subject to court approval, creates a comprehensive approach to the problem of whale entanglements. It expedites state regulation, ensures stakeholder input from the Dungeness crab Fishing Gear Working Group and formalizes a first-ever commitment by CDFW to pursue a federal permit for protecting endangered species. While these steps are executed, the settlement calls for this year’s crab season to end three months early and prescribes protective measures for future springtime fishing seasons, when the greatest number of whales are present off the California coast.

In November 2018, CDFW announced it would seek a federal permit under the Endangered Species Act to address protected species interactions with the crab fishery. Obtaining a permit and developing a conservation plan as part of that process can take years, so the settlement spells out interim protections.

“This settlement represents the path back to normality for California’s crab fishery with built-in protections for whales and crab fishing operations under the Endangered Species Act,” said Noah Oppenheim, executive director of PCFFA. “The past several years have been extraordinarily challenging for fishing families, and the actions we’re taking here are no exception. But in the end, we’re going to emerge together with a resilient, prosperous, and protective fishery that will continue to feed California and the nation.”

Details of the settlement can be found at http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=166146.

The mission of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is to manage California’s diverse fish, wildlife, and plant resources, and the habitats upon which they depend, for their ecological values and for their use and enjoyment by the public.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations is the largest commercial fishermen’s organization on the West Coast, representing 17 local and regional associations from Santa Barbara to Southeast Alaska. As a major commercial fishing industry trade association, PCFFA represents the interests of commercial fishing families who make their living harvesting and delivering high-quality seafood to America’s tables.

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Media Contacts:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW, (916) 654-9937
Kristen Monsell, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 844-7137
Noah Oppenheim, PCFFA, (415) 723-1801 or Michael Coats, (707) 235-6203