The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) announces changes to recreational groundfish regulations that apply to state waters 0-3 nautical miles from shore. The new regulations were adopted by the Fish and Game Commission last month and take effect June 9, 2011. The changes conform to new federal regulations implemented by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries last month, making all groundfish regulations consistent for state and federal waters from 3 to 200 nautical miles from shore.
The new California regulations were developed over the past two years in collaboration with fishery constituents after updated status information for certain groundfish species became available. For some areas of the state, the new stock assessment results combined with recent catch information allowed for longer fishing seasons while still keeping projected catches within allowable federal harvest limits.
The changes will apply to California recreational groundfish fishing regulations for 2011-2012 statewide unless otherwise noted, and include the following:
- A decrease of the lingcod minimum size limit from 24 to 22 inches
- An increase of the recreational bag limit of cabezon to three fish, within the 10-fish combined bag limit for rockfish, cabezon and greenlings
- Removal of the lingcod fishery closure in December and January through March when groundfish fishing is otherwise authorized
- An increase of the fishing depth constraint to 60 fathoms year-round for California scorpionfish
- Modification to gear restrictions when fishing for cabezon and greenlings so that no more than one line and two hooks may be used, consistent with existing regulations for rockfish and lingcod
- Other modifications to improve clarity and organization
Some Groundfish Management Areas have been renamed. The seasons and depth restrictions that apply for specific Groundfish Management Areas will take effect as follows:
Northern (California/Oregon border to near Cape Mendocino):
—For 2011, open May 14 through October 31 in depths less than 120 feet
—For 2012, open May 12 through October 31 in depths less than 120 feet
Mendocino (Near Cape Mendocino to Point Arena):
—For 2011, open May 14 through August 15 in depths less than 120 feet
—For 2012, open May 12 through August 15 in depths less than 120 feet
San Francisco (Point Arena to Pigeon Point):
—For 2011, open June 9 through December 31 in depths less than 180 feet
—For 2012, open June 1 through December 31 in depths less than 180 feet
Central (Pigeon Point to Point Conception):
—For 2011 and 2012, open May 1 through December 31 in depths less than 240 feet
Southern (Point Conception to U.S./Mexico border):
—For 2011 and 2012, open March 1 through December 31 in depths less than 360 feet
Cowcod Conservation Areas (offshore Southern California):
—For 2011 and 2012, open March 1 through December 31 in depths less than 120 feet (please note that nearshore rockfish continue to be the only species of rockfish that may be taken in these areas).
Anglers are advised to check regulations before fishing for federally managed groundfish. The upcoming recreational fishing regulations supplement will contain all new 2011-2012 groundfish regulations. The regulations are also available on the DFG website at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/groundfishcentral or anglers can call the Recreational Groundfish Hotline at (831) 649-2801.