2019 Recreational Ocean Salmon Fishery to Open Off Much of the California Coast in April

California’s recreational salmon fishery will open in ocean waters on Saturday, April 6 in the Monterey management area, between Pigeon Point (37° 11’ 00” N. latitude) south to the U.S.-Mexico border. In the Fort Bragg and San Francisco management areas, between Horse Mountain (40° 05’ 00” N. latitude) and Pigeon Point, the recreational salmon fishery will open on Saturday, April 13. The Klamath Management Zone (Horse Mountain to the Oregon state line) will remain closed for the month of April. The remaining 2019 season dates will be finalized next month.

At its meeting this week in Vancouver, Wash., the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) made the decision to open limited sections of the California coast on April 6 and April 13. Returns of Sacramento River fall Chinook and Klamath River fall Chinook in 2018 were insufficient to overcome their “overfished” status this year.

“Continued concerns over the overfished status of Sacramento and Klamath River fall Chinook, as well as protections for threatened and endangered stocks, are expected to limit salmon seasons in certain times and areas this year,” said Kandice Morgenstern, an environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). “Despite these constraints, we expect California sport anglers to see a greater amount of fishing opportunity overall compared to last year.”

Traditionally, fishing in the Monterey area is better early in the season. Recreational fishing representatives prioritized opening this area ahead of others on the California coast, though it may lead to decisions to close the season earlier in Monterey than in other areas. Delaying the opener in areas to the north should allow for more fishing opportunity there later in the year, when catch rates are typically better.

Final season dates will be decided during the April 9-16 PFMC meeting in Rohnert Park. The public is invited to comment on the PFMC’s season proposals at that meeting, at a hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26 at the Hampton Inn (1160 Airport Park Blvd.) in Ukiah, or through the PFMC website at www.pcouncil.org.

In April, the minimum size limit in the Fort Bragg management area is 20 inches total length. In the San Francisco and Monterey management areas, the minimum size limit is 24 inches total length.

Anglers are advised to check for updated information when planning a salmon fishing trip. Season dates, bag/possession limit information, and gear restrictions can be found on CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon. Public notification of any in-season change to conform state regulations to federal regulations is made through the NMFS ocean salmon hotline at (800) 662-9825.

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Media Contacts:
Kandice Morgenstern, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2879
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169

 

Chinook Salmon

‘Slightly Improved’ Forecast for California’s 2019 Ocean Salmon Season

California’s 2019 ocean salmon fishing season should be slightly better than last year’s, according to information presented at this week’s annual Salmon Information Meeting held in Santa Rosa by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). The ocean abundance projections for Sacramento River fall Chinook (SRFC), a main salmon stock harvested in California waters, is estimated at 379,600 adult salmon, an increase over 2018 forecasts. This may result in increased fishing opportunity in some central coastal areas. The Klamath River fall Chinook (KRFC) abundance forecast of 274,200 adult salmon is lower than 2018 forecast, but still an improvement over low forecast numbers seen in recent years.

“We are cautiously optimistic that the increase in ocean abundance of SRFC will translate into more fishing opportunity this year,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Kandice Morgenstern.

Recreational anglers and commercial salmon trollers at the meeting provided comments and voiced concerns to a panel of fishery managers, scientists and industry representatives. Stakeholder input will be taken into consideration when developing three season alternatives during the March 6-12 Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) meeting in Vancouver, Wash. Final ocean salmon seasons will be adopted during the April 9-16 PFMC meeting in Rohnert Park.

The PFMC may take a conservative approach when crafting 2019 ocean salmon seasons since both SRFC and KRFC stocks are considered to be overfished under the terms of the federal Salmon Fishery Management Plan due to three years of low spawning escapement. Additionally, persistent concerns over protected Sacramento River winter Chinook and California Coastal Chinook could limit fishing opportunity south of Point Arena and north of Point Sur, respectively.

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 ocean salmon hotline at (707) 576-3429.

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Media Contacts:
Chenchen Shen, CDFW Ocean Salmon Team, (707) 576-2885
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

 

Commission Closes Recreational Razor Clam Fishery in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties

The California Fish and Game Commission on Monday voted 3-0 in favor of an emergency rulemaking to prohibit recreational take and possession of razor clam from Humboldt and Del Norte county beaches. The closure is now in effect. Closure of the fishery shall remain in effect until the Director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), in consultation with the Director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and no longer recommends the fishery be closed. 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will maintain a list of closed beaches of the state and update that list on Wednesday of each week by 1 p.m. It shall be the responsibility of any person prior to taking razor clams in Humboldt and Del Norte counties to call CDFW’s hotline (831) 649-2883 or visit CDFW’s website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/health-advisories to obtain the current status of any ocean beach in those counties. 

A CDPH health advisory has been in effect for razor clams in Humboldt and Del Norte counties since August 2015 due to elevated domoic acid levels. Results from the most recent tests showed that the health risk to humans from consumption of razor clams remains significant, prompting CDPH to reissue a health advisory on April 20. OEHHA followed that with a recommendation for fishery closure. The domoic acid present in razor clams remains from the massive toxic algal bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia that occurred last year in the Pacific Ocean. Algal blooms are common, but this one was particularly large and persistent.  CDPH has advised that razor clams are known to retain domoic acid for long periods of time, in some cases more than a year.

CDFW will continue to coordinate with OEHHA and CDPH to test domoic acid levels in razor clams along the north coast to determine when the fishery can safely be opened.

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.
OEHHA Memo 4/20/2016: http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=122446&inline

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

 

 

Salmon Seasons Set for Ocean and Inland Waters

The California Fish and Game Commission adopted recreational ocean and inland salmon season regulations as presented by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) on April 18. Ocean salmon season dates and management measures are set to coincide with the alternatives adopted by the Pacific Fishery Management Council for federal waters off the California coast. Inland river seasons adopted by the Commission are identical to the 2015 seasons with the exception of a reduction in the allowable harvest of Klamath Basin Chinook salmon.

“Reduced fishing opportunity in the ocean and inland areas are a reflection of lower abundance for some California salmon stocks as compared to recent years, likely as a result of extended drought and generally unfavorable ocean conditions for salmon survival,” said Jennifer Simon, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Marine Region Salmon Team. “The 2016 seasons are intended to allow limited fishing opportunity on stocks that can support them while providing increased protection for the most vulnerable of stocks.”

An expected ocean abundance of roughly 300,000 Sacramento River fall Chinook (compared to 650,000 last year) will support recreational and commercial opportunities for ocean salmon fisheries off portions of California and Oregon. A projected return of 151,000 spawning adults allows for an inland river recreational harvest of 24,600 adult Chinook.

The Klamath River fall Chinook ocean abundance forecast of 142,200 adults is substantially lower than recent years and the primary reason for ocean fishery constraints. A projected return of 30,909 natural area spawning adults allows for an inland river recreational harvest quota of 1,110 adult Chinook salmon greater than 22 inches. In 2015 the harvest quota was 14,133.

The resulting bag and possession limits and seasons adopted by the Commission are as follows:

Central Valley Rivers:

Daily limit of two fish per day and a possession limit of four fish. On the American and Feather rivers the general season opener is July 16. On the Sacramento River below Deschutes Road Bridge to the Red Bluff Diversion Dam, the season opens Aug. 1 and closes Dec. 16. From below the Red Bluff Diversion Dam to the Carquinez Bridge, the season opens July 16 and closes Dec. 16. Please see the 2016 Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet for openings and closing of specific sections of each river, as well as gear restrictions.

Klamath River:

Daily limit of two fish per day of which only one may be greater than 22 inches, and the possession limit is six fish of which only three may be greater than 22 inches. The Klamath River fall Chinook season opens Aug. 15 and closes Dec. 31, while the Trinity River opens to salmon fishing on Sept. 1 and closes Dec. 31.

Ocean Salmon: 

Ocean salmon recreational fisheries include a daily limit of two adult Chinook salmon with four in possession on land with varying size restrictions depending on the area. Season dates include openings in May, June, July, August and the Labor Day weekend in the Crescent City/Eureka area. Fisheries further south opened on April 2 and will continue through Nov. 13 in the Fort Bragg area, through Oct. 31 in the San Francisco area, through July 15 from Pigeon Point to Point Sur, and through May 31 south of Point Sur. For a more in-depth look at ocean salmon seasons and restrictions, please see  www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon.

Long-running drought conditions, coupled with suboptimal ocean conditions, have raised serious concerns for Sacramento River winter Chinook salmon, which are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and have experienced very low survival as juveniles in 2014 and 2015. Fisheries south of Point Arena, particularly recreational fisheries in the greater Monterey Bay region, continue to experience late-season reductions in 2016 to minimize interactions with winter Chinook.

Media Contact:
Jennifer Simon, CDFW Salmon Team, (707) 576-2878
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

CDFW Announces Latest Dungeness and Rock Crab Openings, Closures

Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries are open along the mainland coast south of 36° 58.72′ N Latitude at Sand Hill Bluff, Santa Cruz County (approximately 9 miles north of Santa Cruz Harbor entrance) to the California/Mexico border. The recreational Dungeness crab fishery is now open south of 40° 46.15’ N Latitude at the northern jetty of Humboldt Bay, Humboldt County to the California/Mexico border, including ocean waters of Humboldt Bay.

Recent test results show that domoic acid levels in rock crab in Monterey and Dungeness crabs south of Humboldt Bay entrance and in Mendocino County no longer pose a significant human health risk, according to notice given today to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) by the director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), after consultation with the director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

A closure for the recreational rock crab fishery remains in place north of 36° 58.72′ N Latitude and in the Channel Islands exclusion area between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands (see coordinates below) while a closure for the recreational Dungeness crab fishery remains in place north of 40° 46.15’ N Latitude to the California/Oregon border.

The commercial rock crab fishery remains closed north of 36° 58.72′ N Latitude to the California/Oregon border and in the Channel Islands exclusion area between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands (see coordinates below). The commercial Dungeness crab fishery remains closed north of the Mendocino/Sonoma county line.

The recreational Dungeness crab season in Humboldt and Mendocino counties is scheduled to end July 30 under regular open season regulations in the newly opened area while in counties south of Mendocino County, the recreational season closes on June 30.

Despite several weeks of test results that showed samples below alert levels, as a precaution, CDPH and OEHHA recommend that anglers and consumers not eat the viscera (internal organs, also known as “butter” or “guts”) of crabs. CDPH and OEHHA are also recommending that water or broth used to cook whole crabs be discarded and not used to prepare dishes such as sauces, broths, soups or stews. The viscera usually contain much higher levels of domoic acid than crab body meat. When whole crabs are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach from the viscera into the cooking liquid. This precaution is being recommended to avoid harm in the unlikely event that some crabs taken from an open fishery have elevated levels of domoic acid.

Pursuant to the emergency regulations adopted by the Commission and CDFW on November 5 and 6, 2015, respectively, the current open and closed areas are as follows:

 

Areas open to crab fishing include:

Recreational Dungeness crab fishery open along mainland coast south of 40° 46.15’ N Latitude, at the Humboldt Bay entrance, Humboldt County, including ocean waters of Humboldt Bay

Commercial Dungeness crab fishery open along mainland coast south of Sonoma/Mendocino county line – 38° 46.1’ N Latitude, near Gualala, Mendocino County

Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries are open along the mainland coast south of 36° 58.72′ N Latitude at Sand Hill Bluff, Santa Cruz County (approximately 9 miles north of Santa Cruz Harbor Entrance)

Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries are open in state waters of the Channel Islands except for an exclusion area between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands (see coordinates below)

 

Areas closed to crab fishing include:

Recreational Dungeness crab fishery north of 40° 46.15’ N Latitude, near Humboldt Bay entrance, Humboldt County to the California/Oregon border

Commercial Dungeness crab fishery north of Sonoma/Mendocino county line – 38° 46.1’ N Latitude

Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries are closed north of 36° 58.72′ N Latitude and in state waters between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands within an exclusion area bounded by straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

(1) 34° 7.75’ N Lat. 120° 0.00’ W Long.;

(2) 34° 7.75’ N Lat. 119° 50.00’ W Long.;

(3) 33° 53.00’ N Lat. 119° 50.00’ W Long.;

(4) 33° 53.00’ N Lat. 120° 0.00’ W Long.; and

(5) 34° 7.75’ N Lat. 120° 0.00’ W Long.

 

CDFW will continue to closely coordinate with CDPH, OEHHA and fisheries representatives to extensively monitor domoic acid levels in Dungeness and rock crabs to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened throughout the state.

OEHHA Rock Crab Memo 4/22/2016: http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=122565&inline

OEHHA Dungeness Crad Memo 4/22/2016: http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=122566&inline

 

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