Bag Limits & Regulation Changes Scheduled for May 1


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Posted by Chris on April 30, 2004 at 22:38:16:

Recreational Bottom Fishing Bag Limits Simplified; Significant Regulation Changes Scheduled for May 1

Contact(s):
Carrie Wilson, Information Officer, (831) 649-7191
Ed Roberts, Marine Region, (562) 342-7199

California's recreational anglers and divers will be glad to hear that, beginning May 1, the nearshore rockfish sub-bag limit required during 2003 and early 2004 will be abolished, the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) announced. The regulation change will eliminate the sport fishing sub-bag limits for shallow nearshore rockfish, and establish the same bag limits for rockfish, cabezon and greenlings statewide.

The shallow nearshore rockfish bag limit until now placed tighter restrictions on the take of five species of rockfish - black -and-yellow, China, gopher, grass, and kelp rockfishes - within the Rockfish, Cabezon, and Greenling Complex (RCG Complex) bag limit. Data from late 2003 indicated that the take of these species was not successfully limited by the regulation, as anglers were forced to discard dead and dying fish while rounding out their daily bag limit with other rockfish species. May 1 regulation changes will provide more flexibility for fishermen taking the 10-fish RCG Complex bag limit.

In addition, the RCG Complex regulations will apply coastwide starting May 1, including northern California, which had a different bag limit structure that contributed to recreational catches being too high for cabezon and black rockfish especially.

"Fishery managers recognize that regulation changes sometimes create hardships on various members of California's fishing community," said Marija Vojkovich, Marine Region Southern California Ecosystem Manager. "We try to balance the mandated obligations to protect federally designated overfished species, while still providing anglers and divers with fishing opportunities."

While trying to provide fishing opportunities, managers must also consider the need to protect vulnerable fish species. Establishing the RCG Complex bag limits in northern California should reduce the take of nearshore rockfish, cabezon and greenlings and help to meet statewide recreational allowances for 2004.

In March, the Pacific Fishery Management Council and the California Fish and Game Commission took action to reduce the sport harvest of lingcod statewide, including raising the minimum size limit, reducing the daily bag and possession limit, and reducing the fishing season by two months. These regulations went into effect on April 1. Earlier this month, the Council and Commission made additional in-season adjustments to reduce the take of black and canary rockfishes in the northern and central portions of the state. These changes will become effective May 1.

"All of these regulation changes are designed to protect overfished species and keep bycatch
within federally established targets," said Vojkovich. "The goal is to provide vulnerable species with
a chance to rebuild their populations, and to ensure their long-term sustainability."

Below are sportfishing regulations in effect beginning May 1 for bottom fish and are summarized by area. These regulations apply to all federally managed bottom fish as well as California sheephead, ocean whitefish, California scorpionfish, rock greenling, some flatfishes and some sharks.

CA-OR Border to 4010' N. lat. (near Cape Mendocino):

4010' N. lat. (near Cape Mendocino) to 3600' N. lat. (near Lopez Pt):

3600' N. lat. (near Lopez Pt.) to 3427' N. lat. (near Pt Conception):

3427' N. lat. (near Pt Conception) to the CA-Mexico Border:

All fishery regulations are subject to in-season change. Fishermen are advised to check the Marine Region Web site, www.dfg.ca.gov/mrd, send an e-mail to AskMarine@dfg.ca.gov or call your local DFG office for the latest information.

For more information on regulation changes, check the following Web sites:

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i. Federally managed bottom fish (groundfish) include: all rockfishes, California scorpionfish, cabezon, kelp greenling, lingcod, and some species of sharks, rays, and flatfishes. For a complete list, go to www.dfg.ca.gov/mrd/groundfish_fedlist.html.


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