The following is a press release issued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced that as of 12:01 a.m. Friday, Sept. 1, 2023, the 50-fathom Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) boundary line for the Mendocino Groundfish Management Area (GMA) (Cape Mendocino to Point Arena), San Francisco GMA (Point Arena to Pigeon Point) and Central GMA (Pigeon Point to Point Conception), will take effect.
In these GMAs, recreational boat-based groundfish fishing will be ‘offshore only’ and allowed only seaward (away from land) of the 50-fathom boundary line, defined by straight lines connecting waypoints (50 CFR Part 660, Subpart G). Shelf rockfish, slope rockfish and lingcod may be taken seaward of the 50-fathom boundary line, while it will be unlawful to take or possess nearshore rockfish as defined in Title 14, Section 1.91(a)(1), cabezon or greenlings at any depth. In the Southern GMA from Pt. Conception to the U.S.-Mexico border, these same ‘offshore only’ rules will take effect as originally planned on Sept. 16.
During the ‘offshore only’ fishery, fishing gear shall not be deployed shoreward of the 50-fathom RCA boundary line when shelf rockfish, slope rockfish or lingcod are possessed onboard the vessel, however vessels may transit shoreward of the 50-fathom RCA boundary line with these species in possession if no gear is deployed. Additionally, vessels fishing in the adjacent Southern GMA and transiting back to the Central GMA must adhere to the ‘offshore only’ provisions effective in the Central GMA and shall not return with nearshore species aboard. These changes do not apply to shore-based anglers or divers.
CDFW is carefully monitoring the harvest of quillback rockfish from both the recreational and commercial fisheries throughout the state and has taken a series of steps in an effort to reduce quillback rockfish mortality. On Aug. 7, retention of quillback rockfish was prohibited statewide, followed by closure of the recreational nearshore fishery in the Northern GMA, on Aug. 21. Newly available recreational data from the Mendocino, San Francisco and Central GMAs for the second week of August showed double the estimated recreational take and indicated the 2023 quillback rockfish harvest limit specified in federal regulations has been exceeded. This additional in-season action authorized by Title 14, Section 27.20 (e) to adjust the fishing depth is necessary to prevent further overage.
CDFW urges anglers to use best fishing practices to reduce impacts to quillback rockfish and other prohibited groundfish species. These include reducing mortality when releasing fish by utilizing a descending device and relocating to different fishing grounds or switching targets if quillback rockfish or other prohibited species are encountered. CDFW recommends reviewing the Summary of Recreational Groundfish Fishing Regulations page before each trip to ensure anglers are up to date on the most recent groundfish regulations, including a complete list of authorized species.
For details regarding the quillback population estimates and how these changes were developed, please see CDFW’s Quillback Rockfish In-Season Informational Briefing. For information on all groundfish regulations visit CDFW’s Marine Region Groundfish page.
Pursuant to California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.20(e), when federal harvest limits are exceeded or projected to be exceeded, CDFW has authority to make in-season changes, including adjustments to bag and sub-bag limits, seasons and depths.