California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Marine Management News: April 2003

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April 2003 Issue

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List of Articles


Commercial Deeper Nearshore Species Fishery Permit Adopted

by Traci Bishop, Associate Marine Biologist

At their February 7, 2003 meeting in Sacramento, the Fish and Game Commission adopted regulations establishing a commercial Deeper Nearshore Species Fisheries Permit (DNSFP) for eight species of nearshore rockfish (black, blue, brown, calico, copper, olive, quillback, and treefish). In addition, the Commission established a minimum landing requirement of 200 pounds of these species landed between 1994 and 1999 to be eligible for a DNSFP. The fee for the DNSFP will be $125. This permit must be renewed annually. To renew the permit a person must have held a DNSFP in the immediately preceding year.

DNSFP applications will be available at all DFG license counters the last week of April. You can locate the nearest license counter near you at

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Errors in Printed Version of 2003 Ocean Sportfishing Regulations Booklet

Under "Finfish - - Gear Restrictions", Section 28.65(c) of the printed version of the 2003 California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet states "(c) hooks used to take rockfish must be barbless circle hooks". This is incorrect. Section 28.65 should read: "Except as provided in this article, finfish may be taken only on hook and line or by hand. Any number of hooks and lines may be used in all ocean waters and bays except: ...(c) When rockfish (genus Sebastes) or lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) are aboard or in possession, where only one line with not more than two hooks may be used pursuant to sections 28.55 or 28.27, respectively..." All other subsections of 28.65 [(a), (b), (d), (e), (f), (g)] have not changed.

The first sentence of Section 27.67 "Transport of Recreational Finfish Through a Restricted Fishing Area" in the printed version states "The department may authorize recreational vessels that have finfish in possession that were taken in waters open to sport fishing, to transport those finfish through waters closed at that time to sport fishing." This has been amended to read: "The department may authorize recreational vessels that have finfish in possession that were legally taken within a Rockfish and Lingcod Management Area defined in Section 27.82(b), Title 14, CCR, to transport those finfish through another Rockfish and Lingcod Management Area in which regulations governing the take and possession of those species are different. The permit described in this section is not required for vessels operating entirely within a Rockfish and Lingcod Management Area."

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Regulatory Roles of the California Fish and Game Commission
and the Pacific Fishery Management Council

by DFG Staff

With the recent changes in fishing regulations in California, it may be beneficial to discuss the roles of the California Fish and Game Commission and the Pacific Fishery Management Council. The Commission is made up of five governor-appointed individuals from the general public who vote on regulatory actions through a structured public process. In addition to many other regulatory responsibilities, the Commission regulates certain fishing in California state waters (0-3 miles) and fishing activity for certain species outside of state waters when the catch will be landed in California. In general, the Commission adopts management measures for all recreational fishing activities and for those commercial fisheries where the California Legislature has given the Commission authority to regulate. Management measures adopted by the Commission are subject to final approval by the State's Office of Administrative Law.

Regulations set by the Commission cannot conflict with federal management regulations; state regulations may be more restrictive, but not less restrictive than federal regulations. Because many species of fishes move through and are caught in both state and federal waters, it is critical to maintain close coordination between the state and federal fishery management processes.

The Council is made up of state and federal agency representatives; commercial and recreational fishing industry representatives from CA, OR, WA, and Idaho; and a representative of the Indian treaty tribes. The Council has fourteen voting members, and California representatives currently hold four of those seats. Through a public process spanning several months and meetings, the Council develops regulations for fisheries managed under four federal fishery management plans [Pacific coast groundfish (like rockfishes, lingcod and many soles) salmon, coastal pelagic species (sardines, mackerel and anchovies) and highly migratory species (like tunas and sharks)] for federal waters off CA, OR and WA. Federally managed waters lie from 3-200 miles offshore and are called the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. The Council also recommends management measures for Pacific halibut fisheries off Oregon, Washington and California to the International Pacific Halibut Commission. Management measures proposed by the Council are subject to approval by the Secretary of Commerce.

Coordination between the two regulatory processes may appear to be complex and confusing for those fisheries where there are complementary authorities. The Council and the Commission therefore, try very hard to synchronize their processes and allow for many public comment opportunities. In both venues, proposed management options are made available in draft form several months before a final decision is made.

Often times special hearings are established when decision meeting venues are removed from geographical locations of interest. This is arranged so interested individuals or businesses can have the opportunity to discuss their management preferences with the Commission or Council before decisions are made. The Commission uses these public comment opportunities to formulate their guidance to the Department of Fish and Game for management decisions that are made through the Council management process. While not everyone's needs can be met, both the Council and Commission weigh input received from scientists, business owners, environmentalists, recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, processors and the general public to make the decisions necessary to provide for sustainable resources and fisheries. For many issues before these bodies, interested constituents must be sure to share their views with both entities to improve the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

Get involved! See agendas and meeting dates on the following websites: and

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Channel Islands Marine Protected Area

by John Ugoretz, Senior Marine Biologist

The Governor's Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved regulations for new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) within the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary on March 10, 2003 making the formal implementation date April 9, 2003. The regulations were forwarded to OAL after the Fish and Game Commission adopted the Department of Fish and Game's (DFG) preferred alternative for a network of MPAs on October 23, 2002. The decision came after more than four years of deliberations, meetings, and public process.

The network of MPAs consists of 12 distinct areas around the four northern Channel Islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel) and Santa Barbara Island. Ten of the 12 MPAs are State Marine Reserves, where no take of living, geological, or cultural resources is allowed. Two of the MPAs, one on the northwest side of Anacapa and one at Painted Cave on Santa Cruz, are State Marine Conservation Areas where limited take is allowed. While the MPAs restrict or limit fishing, transit through the areas and anchoring with catch onboard are allowed so long as fishing gear is stowed and not in use.

An important part of the management of these new MPAs will be monitoring. With that in mind, the DFG has taken several steps to ensure that the biological, social, and economic effects of the MPAs are measured over time. A comprehensive list of existing biological monitoring programs has been compiled and is available on the DFG's Marine Region website. In March, DFG held a workshop to receive input on potential monitoring programs. More than 100 representatives from the scientific, fishing, and environmental communities joined DFG and other agency staff at the workshop. Participants split into focused groups discussing biological, social, and economic monitoring. Their input is being used to draft a preliminary monitoring plan for the region.

More information on the Channel Islands MPAs is available on the DFG's Marine Region website at: This includes maps of the MPAs and their latitude/longitude boundaries. The site also contains information on the monitoring plan progress, specific regulations, and more. If you have specific questions or need more information, contact John Ugoretz at (805) 560-6758, or by e-mail at

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Remotely Operated Vehicle:
New Tool for Assessing Our Nearshore Resources

by Christine Pattison, Associate Marine Biologist

A new tool for assessing our nearshore resources is the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). The Department of Fish and Game's (DFG) ROV team of biologists is spearheading "cutting-edge" research in the use of ROVs for sampling finfish and invertebrates. ROVs are able to operate in depths beyond the range of scuba divers and in areas which may be unsafe for divers, such as the waters around the Farallon Islands where great white sharks are known to be present. ROVs are able to remain underwater for an unlimited amount of time and can survey large areas in a single dive. As an example, with a survey speed of 0.5 meters per second, a narrow band 5.5 km long can be surveyed during a 3-hour dive.

The ROV team is part of the DFG's Fishery Independent Mandate Team, and the newly formed Cooperative Research and Assessment of Nearshore Ecosystems (CRANE) group, which includes more than 15 groups involved in monitoring nearshore reefs in California. Together they have taken the first steps of developing widely applicable, yet specific scientific sampling procedures for assessing basic information on density and size structure of nearshore finfish populations. These methods will be instrumental in providing essential fishery information for the Nearshore Fishery Management Plan.

The DFG ROV was obtained through a cooperative Sea Grant research grant in 1998 to survey the new Punta Gorda Ecological Reserve with Humboldt State University scientists. The Punta Gorda study (1998-1999) was successful in providing the Fish and Game Commission with an accurate quantitative description of finfish, invertebrates and habitat to evaluate the single ecological reserve in northern California.

In 2000, the ROV surveyed the Farallon Islands for abalone and sea urchin. This survey is providing vital data needed by the Commission to evaluate abalone recovery since the fishery closure in 1997. Following the Farallon Island survey, the ROV surveys have been focused on improving the quality and type of data collected.

In 2001 and 2002, ROV surveys were enlarged as a more broad-based team effort with a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to fund the "California and Oregon Cooperative Nearshore Fishes Assessment." Partners included the Oregon Department of Fish and Game; Seafloor Mapping Lab at California State University at Monterey Bay; the DFG's Marine Region Geographical Information System (GIS) Lab, and Wildlife Protection P/V Bluefin (crew of three).

The goal of the project is to assess region-wide differences in essential habitat and abundance of nearshore finfish of management concern in both Oregon and California.

ROV surveys in the fall of 2002 off Carmel Point and Stillwater Cove (both just south of Monterey Bay in central California) were directed at further developing and refining ROV survey methods, and comparing and calibrating ROV and diver measurements of nearshore finfish density and size. The surveys were conducted with the use of detailed multi-beam sonar maps created by our partners from California State University Monterey Bay and the DFG's GIS Lab. Using these detailed maps, biologists were able to locate specific reefs and repeat a set of 4 transects, each about 1 km long, at depths from 25-55 m on four different days. Because of these remarkably detailed maps and spatial and tracking efficiency, biologists will be able to return to the same site in the future to monitor changes in abundance of important finfish and invertebrates.

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Abalone Recovery and Management Plan

by Jonathan Ramsay, Marine Biologist

The Abalone Recovery and Management Plan (ARMP) is currently in the hands of the Fish and Game Commission, which will be the lead agency during the adoption process and beyond. The ARMP was formally presented to the Commission by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) during their February meeting in Sacramento. The ARMP is the guide for DFG's recovery efforts for abalone species found in central and southern California, and for management of northern California's thriving red abalone recreational fishery.

The Commission will provide a public comment period at three meetings, two of which will be special Commission meetings held specifically to hear public comments on the ARMP. The special meetings are being planned for the late spring or early summer in southern and central California. Specific dates and locations have not been decided for these special meetings, but will be posted on the DFG's Marine Region abalone resources website ( as soon as they have been determined. The third meeting will be the August Commission meeting in Santa Rosa at which time the public comment period will end and the Commission may choose to adopt the plan. Throughout the formal comment period, written comments may be sent to: California Fish and Game Commission, Abalone Recovery and Management Plan, 1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento, CA 95814.

The draft ARMP may be found on the DFG's Marine Region abalone resources website listed above, at DFG offices, at the Commission office, and at the California State Costal Conservancy office in Oakland. For further information, check the website above, the Commission's website (, or contact the abalone constituent involvement coordinator, Diana Watters, at (650) 631-2535 or

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Commission Decides on Future of Spot Prawn Trawling in the State

by Kristine Barsky, Senior Marine Biologist Specialist

Last summer, the Fish and Game Commission directed the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to prepare regulations for the spot prawn fishery based on recommendations contained in the DFG's Spot Prawn Fishery Bycatch Report. The recommendations were developed using data obtained from an on-board observation program and were crafted to reduce the bycatch of bocaccio rockfish in the trawl fishery. The suite of options included a ban on the use of trawl nets to take spot prawn, a ban on trawl gear coupled with a provision which would allow trawl fishermen to convert to trap gear, and allow trawling for spot prawn in certain depth zones. Several other options dealt with observer requirements and gear specifications.

Bocaccio has been designated as an overfished rockfish, and is managed under a strict federal rebuilding plan. Scientists estimate recovery could take decades, even with no directed or targeted fishing for this species. In 2002, the state exceeded the combined recreational and commercial allocation of 100 metric tons of bocaccio by May. This year there is no bocaccio allocation and the state has committed to keeping incidental catch of bocaccio from all sources to less than 12 metric tons.

In light of strict rockfish rebuilding requirements, DFG recommended the Commission adopt a prohibition on the take of spot prawn with trawl gear. The DFG also requested more time to re-evaluate the existing restricted access (limited entry) trap fishery so additional participants could be accommodated. The Commission adopted regulations to ban the use of trawl gear for spot prawns at a special meeting on February 18, 2003. They also requested DFG revise the existing spot prawn trap restricted access program to allow for the conversion of some spot prawn trawl vessels to trap gear. The trawl ban for spot prawns was implemented on April 1, 2003.

For more information go to or call or e-mail Kristine Barsky at (805) 985-3114 or

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Nearshore Groundfish Tagging Project

by Ed Roberts, Marine Biologist

Using funds from the California Groundfish Disaster Relief Fund, Dr. Doyle A. Hanan, in cooperation with the Sportfishing Association of California and the California Department of Fish and Game, has been chartering Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels (CPFVs, or "Party Boats") from Morro Bay to San Diego to catch, tag and release over 20 species of nearshore groundfish in order to learn more about their life histories and fishery interactions with these species.

The project has successfully tagged and released nearly 4,000 fish on more than 30 fishing trips since its beginning back in November of 2002. The volunteer anglers that have participated have expressed enthusiasm about participating in a research effort, and the project has been widely accepted by the CPFV industry of southern California. What to do if you catch a tagged fish? Please record the following information:

  • 4 digit tag # (do not remove the tag)
  • Length (as accurate as possible)
  • Location (Latitude/Longitude)
  • Depth
  • We prefer that you release the fish with the tag in place so that it can be caught again, but if you decide to keep it or if the fish is dead, please save the carcass and tag for pick-up
  • If the fish is not in season or is short, please record the above information, do not remove the tag, and release the fish
  • Call the phone number on the tag and provide us with your catch information to receive your reward

Thanks to the owners, operators and crews of the following vessels for their help: El Capitan, Electra, Erna B, Fury, Mirage, Monte Carlo, New Del Mar, Pacific Star, Princess, Sea Jay, Sea Star, Stardust and Tortuga.

For additional information contact Ed Roberts at or call at (562) 342-7199.

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Calendar of Upcoming Meetings

Fish and Game Commission Meetings 2003

May 7-8
June 19-20
August 1-2
August 28-29
October 2-3
November 6-7
December 4-5
Mammoth Lakes
Long Beach
Santa Rosa
San Diego

Pacific Fishery Management Council 2003

June 16-20
September 8-12
November 3-7
Foster City
Seattle, WA
San Diego

For the latest information on upcoming Marine Region meetings, please check out our Calendar of Events at or contact our DFG office in Monterey at (831) 649-2870.