Cordell Bank Will Close to Most Recreational Bottom Fishing for 2004

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Posted by . on February 23, 2004 at 13:20:48:

Department of Fish and Game
February 23, 2004

Tom Barnes, Marine Region, (858) 546-7167
Carrie Wilson, Marine Region, (831) 649-7191

Cordell Bank Will Close to Most Recreational Bottom Fishing For Remainder of 2004

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA) announced today that as of March 1 recreational fishing on Cordell Bank (off Marin County) will close for rockfish, lingcod, and associated species. This action is necessary to help reduce incidental landings of canary rockfish and other overfished bottom-dwelling fish species.

Cordell Bank habitat supports a large population of many species of rockfish. In particular, the bank has been identified by the Pacific Fishery Management Council's Groundfish Management Team (GMT) as a "hot spot" for canary rockfish and other overfished groundfish where catch rates of these species can be high. Since it is not possible to specifically target some rockfish species to the exclusion of others, recreational fishing will be closed at all times for rockfish, lingcod, cabezon, greenlings, California scorpionfish, California sheephead, and ocean whitefish.

This is not a new closure. In 2003, Cordell Bank was also closed as fishing was allowed only in waters less than 20 fathoms (120 feet) in depth, which effectively prohibited fishing there because the Cordell Bank does not rise above 20 fathoms. For 2004, however, the allowable nearshore fishing depth was increased to 30 fathoms (180 feet) during six months of the year. Because areas of the Cordell Bank are shallower than 30 fathoms, a special closure for this area must now be implemented to prevent excessive catches of canary rockfish, lingcod and several other overfished groundfish that would likely occur if the area remains open. Without this action, scientists predict that anglers may reach fishing quotas for canary rockfish early, which would then trigger early season fishing closures along the Central California coast.

The primary fishing ports that are within travel distance to Cordell Bank are Bodega Bay and the San Francisco Bay Area. Numerous other nearshore fishing grounds along the mainland coast and around the Farallon Islands will remain open during 2004 and are accessible from both of these port areas, providing an alternative to fishing trips that otherwise might have been directed to Cordell Bank. Fishing opportunities for salmon, sanddabs, crabs, and other species will remain open in this area.

A similar action for commercial fisheries will be considered through the normal in-season management process at the next meeting of the Pacific Fishery Management Council.

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