F&G Commission Postpones Decision On Lingcod

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Posted by . on March 09, 2004 at 00:34:10:

The California Fish and Game Commission at its March 4, 2004 meeting in Redding postponed action on the Department of Fish and Game's (DFG) and NOAA Fisheries' request to comply with new federal recreational lingcod fishing regulations expected to become effective on April 1, 2004. This decision was made to allow the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) to discuss the new lingcod stock assessment and possible in-season management strategy changes at its meeting this week in Tacoma, WA. Any final recommendations to be made by the DFG and NOAA Fisheries will depend on the outcome of the discussions held by the PFMC.

The DFG has requested that the Commission schedule a special teleconference meeting for 10 a.m. on Friday, March 19, 2004, to consider any new regulation changes that may be necessary to ensure that catches of lingcod in California remain at or within the coast wide allowable harvest levels set by the PFMC. The lingcod stock off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington has been formally classified as over fished by the PFMC, and is currently managed under a rebuilding plan to achieve recovery of the stock. A key element of the rebuilding plan is to constrain catches to levels that allow the stock to increase to a healthy level within a specified period of time. In 2002 and 2003, coast wide lingcod catches have exceeded allowable levels needed to achieve rebuilding of the stock according to NOAA Fisheries.

"While the DFG is reluctant to make in-season changes to recreational size and bag limits, this appears to be the only feasible way to keep catches within allowable levels short of prohibiting all take of lingcod," said Patty Wolf, DFG Marine Regional Manager. "This management approach continues to provide some fishing opportunity for lingcod throughout the remainder of the year, and allows those anglers who catch large fish to retain them."

The need for additional measures has been determined in part from new information on fishing success during the last part of 2003, which was not available to fishery managers when the current regulations were established prior to the start of the 2004 season. The DFG anticipates by increasing the minimum size limit and reducing the allowable daily bag limit to one lingcod per person, California's lingcod catches will be held to the allotted amount for the recreational fishery. Current regulations allow two fish per person at a minimum size of 24 inches.

The conference call will originate from the Commission's conference room in the Resources Building, 1416 Ninth St., Room 1320, in Sacramento. Commissioner Michael Flores will be at the Sacramento location. Commissioners Kellogg, Schuchat and Hattoy will participate from their offices in Concord, Oakland and Long Beach, respectively. The meeting will be audible to the public from the Commission office and interested parties are encouraged to attend at this location. Interested individuals are encouraged to provide written comments to the Commission office fax number at (916) 653-5040.

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