2004 Groundfish Sport Regulations

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Posted by Chris on December 10, 2003 at 07:57:51:

News Release: For Immediate Release
December 4, 2003
Fish and Game Commission Adopts 2004 Groundfish Sport Regulations
Contacts: Chamois Andersen, Information Officer, (916) 657-4132; Carrie Wilson, Marine Region, (831) 649-7191; Robert Treanor, Executive Director of the Commission (916) 653-4899

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) recreational groundfish fishing regulations were approved today by the California Fish and Game Commission. The Commission adopted the regulations for the 2004 sport fishing season at its meeting in Sacramento.

The new rules will apply to all state waters, and are needed to conform for consistency with federal groundfish rules for 2004. The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) recommended the updated groundfish management actions at its September meeting in Seattle. Those federal actions were approved by NOAA Fisheries and will impact all sport and commercial groundfish fisheries along the West Coast beginning next year.

The sport fishing regulations for state waters are also slated to take effect on Jan. 1, 2004. Such regulations are not official until they are filed with the Secretary of State.

“These new rules were crafted to allow for a longer fishing season in central and southern California, and for sport fishing for rockfish to resume year-round in northern waters,” said Sonke Mastrup, DFG acting director.

DFG will post any updated information on next year’s fishing season on its Web site at www.dfg.ca.gov/mrd/.

For California’s recreational anglers, the following proposed rules include depth regulations and season dates, which are tentatively scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2004:
Northern Rockfish and Lingcod Management Area – Oregon border to just south of Cape Mendocino
- Open all year at all depths.

Central Rockfish and Lingcod Management Area – just south of Cape Mendocino south to Pt. Conception
- January through February fishing will be open to water-depths out to 180 feet (30 fathoms).
- Closed March and April.
- May through August will be open to water-depths out to 120 feet (20 fathoms).
- September through December fishing will be open to water depths out to 180 feet.
Southern Rockfish and Lingcod Management Area – Pt. Conception south to California-- -- - Mexico border
- Closed January and February.
- March through December open to water depths out to 360 feet (60 fathoms).
- California scorpionfish (sculpin) will be closed January and February as well as May through

The open seasons apply to California's sport fisheries for rockfish, cabezon, greenlings, scorpionfish (sculpin), and lingcod in nearshore waters statewide.

The sport-fishing seasons for all Rockfish and Lingcod Management Areas will last until Dec. 31, 2004, or until annual harvest limits have been reached. Bag and possession limits (which may change in-season after the Jan. 1) will remain the same as the 2003 regulations except for the inclusion of a one-fish sub-bag limit for bocaccio in the Central and Southern Rockfish and Lingcod Management Areas, and there is no allowance for yelloweye and canary rockfish in the Northern Rockfish and Lingcod Management Areas 2004.

The federal PFMC is charged with managing groundfish fisheries along the West Coast. The resulting 2004 groundfish regulations are the result of new science examined last spring that showed an increase in California's bocaccio population, a federally managed rockfish species that has been declared “overfished.”

Bocaccio occur from Alaska to Baja California, Mexico. In California, they are most frequently found off the central and southern portions of the state. This year’s population estimate of the species included fish born in 1999 that were too small to include in previous assessments. Despite the new estimates and the opening of deeper waters and a longer season for 2004, bocaccio populations remain at a fraction of their “pre-fished” levels. While anglers should avoid targeting bocaccio, a one-fish sub-bag limit was approved by PFMC in an attempt to limit discarded fish, the ones that are dead and tossed back into the ocean.

In addition, concerns for canary rockfish (an overfished species), which is found in northern and central California, also contributed to 2004’s groundfish management actions taken by the PFMC. Particularly in central California, the chances of encountering canary rockfish in the deeper waters is much greater than in the southern part of the state. And because canary reside in the same areas as bocaccio and where sport anglers target healthy rockfishes, the PFMC had to take that into consideration with groundfish actions and management for 2004.


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