California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Marine Management News: September 2005

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september 2005 issue

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List of Articles


Recreational Groundfish Fishing Regulation Changes for Fall and Winter

by Ed Roberts, Marine Biologist

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) reminds anglers of upcoming depth restriction changes and seasonal openings and closures for groundfish (including rockfish, lingcod, cabezon, California sheephead, ocean whitefish, California scorpionfish, and other federal groundfish and associated state-managed species) in central and southern California.

Beginning September 1 and continuing through October 31, 2005, the depth restriction for groundfish in the Southern Management Area (Point Conception to the Mexico border) will change from 360 feet (60 fathoms) to 180 feet (30 fathoms); groundfish species may not be taken or possessed in waters deeper than 180 feet (except aboard a vessel in transit with no fishing gear in the water).

The depth restriction for this area will return to 360 feet on November 1 and continue through the end of the year. These depth restriction changes are necessary to reduce the incidental catch of cowcod (a species of rockfish that has been declared "overfished") and other species of concern.

On October 1, the groundfish season will close for boat-based anglers in the Morro Bay South-Central Management Area (Lopez Point to Point Conception). The season remains open to divers and shore-based anglers through the end of the year. This seasonal closure is necessary to reduce the incidental catch of canary rockfish (another "overfished" rockfish species) and will help to insure that the California recreational groundfish catch stays within annual harvest limits set by the federal government.

Also on October 1, fishing for California scorpionfish (commonly known as sculpin) opens to boat-based anglers fishing in the Southern Management Area. The daily bag and possession limit is 5 fish, with a minimum size limit of 10 inches. Anglers targeting scorpionfish are required to follow depth restrictions set for other federally-managed groundfish in the Southern Management Area (see above). Recreational anglers were limited to a 3-month season for scorpionfish this year to insure that the California recreational groundfish catch stays within annual harvest limits set by the federal government.

Take a look at the DFG's clickable ocean fishing map for summaries of current sport fishing regulations by area, available online at

Don't forget the DFG's new Recreational Groundfish Fishing Regulations Hotline. Call (831) 649-2801 to access the latest groundfish regulations by telephone.

For summaries of current groundfish fishing regulations by area, refer to pgs. 14 through 23 of the 2005 California Freshwater & Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations supplement, available wherever fishing licenses are sold, or online.

Questions about the bottomfishing regulations? Send them to

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Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program Making Progress;
White seabass is California's first hatchery-raised saltwater fish to enhance wild populations

by Traci Bishop, Associate Marine Biologist

Trout and salmon are among the most well-known fish raised in hatcheries by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and its partners. These fish are regularly planted in the wild, supplementing the native populations enjoyed by thousands of fishermen.

Salmon and steelhead trout begin life in freshwater and migrate to the ocean, where many are caught by anglers. Until about a quarter of a century ago, however, no strictly saltwater species had been raised in hatcheries for the purpose of supplementing wild ocean stocks.

For the past 22 years, a unique experiment has been under way to raise a saltwater fish - white seabass - in California hatcheries for population enhancement, and so far the experiment has been a success.

It all started in 1983 when the Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program (OREHP) was created at the request of recreational fishermen. The program is a collaborative effort of DFG, scientists, and saltwater anglers, and is run with the help of a 10-person Advisory Panel representing recreational, commercial, and scientific interests. In 1983, the OREHP Advisory Panel chose white seabass as the most appropriate marine species for use in an experimental enhancement program.

White seabass are caught primarily south of Pt. Conception, and have been favored by California anglers and consumers for at least a century. Recreational catch rates for white seabass dropped dramatically from the 1950s through the 1980s. Annual sport fishing landings in California fell from over 55,000 fish to less than 3,500 fish during this period, while commercial landings varied between 1960 and 1980, averaging one million pounds annually.

Along with white seabass, the California halibut was selected as a possible candidate for the enhancement program. After a few years, however, budgetary constraints required that the program focus on a single species. The OREHP Advisory Panel chose white seabass, following the advice of DFG biologists who believed that the California halibut population was more robust than the white seabass population.

Aquaculture 101

Since very little information about culturing white seabass was available at the time, the OREHP team broke new ground in keeping adult fish alive and healthy in captivity. Research was conducted primarily by scientists from Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute (HSWRI), San Diego State University (SDSU), and California State University, Northridge (CSUN). HSWRI scientists focused on raising and breeding white seabass: how to persuade the adults to spawn, how to raise the larvae, determining the best diet, and examining how diet affected egg and larval quality. Other studies looked at disease prevention and genetics issues.

Teams from SDSU and CSUN looked at juvenile recruitment in white seabass. At the beginning of the program, little was known about where juvenile white seabass (one- to three-year-olds) lived. Since 1996, the two universities have sampled juvenile white seabass four times per year, at the same sites along the coast and in bays. To date, over 11,000 juvenile white seabass have been captured, of which about 800 were hatchery-reared fish.

Growing pains

In the early 1990s it became apparent that HSWRI's Mission Bay research facility would not be big enough to raise the large numbers of white seabass necessary to determine whether stocking efforts could enhance a marine fish population.

To overcome this, a marine fish hatchery was built in Carlsbad, California in 1994 using mitigation funds from the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station. This hatchery is owned and operated by HSWRI, and now raises white seabass to 6 inches total length (three to four months of age).

The life of a hatchery-reared white seabass

Before leaving the hatchery, each white seabass receives a small stainless steel tag in the right cheek. When read under a microscope, the tag from a captured fish helps researchers to determine the age of the fish, and when and where it was released into the wild.

Once fish are three to four months old, they are transferred to "grow-out" facilities on the coast between Santa Barbara and San Diego. The grow-out facilities are run by volunteers, primarily recreational fishermen. These volunteers spend thousands of hours each year maintaining the facilities and caring for the fish until they reach six to nine months of age (at 9 to 10 inches total length).

At the grow-out facilities, the fish are fed dry food several times a day, both by hand and by automatic feeder. The net pens and raceways that house the fish must be cleaned routinely to maintain a healthy environment for the fish. A DFG fish pathologist inspects fish that are about to be released to ensure they are healthy. Once cleared, volunteers release the fish into the ocean.

As OREHP has learned more about raising white seabass and managing disease, the program has increased the number of fish released annually. In 2001, OREHP released over 100,000 juvenile white seabass for the first time in the history of the program, and in 2004 over 270,000 hatchery-reared fish were released. To date, OHREP has released over one million tagged white seabass.

DFG needs your white seabass heads!

With several years of large releases, OREHP researchers hope to fully evaluate the program's success by 2010. At that time, five years of data from adult white seabass recovered from the recreational and commercial fisheries should be available to help determine the success of this artificial propagation effort.

DFG, HSWRI and SDSU are collecting adult white seabass heads to check for tags from hatchery-raised fish. A total of 41 adult hatchery-raised white seabass heads have been recovered to date. The oldest fish recovered was over ten years old.

Collection stations have been set up at sport fishing landings and commercial fish markets throughout southern California. To find out where to drop off your white seabass head, call (877) SAVEWSB ((877) 728-3972), or check the HSWRI website at Please be sure to place the head in a plastic bag, and include information about when and where you caught the fish.

United Anglers hosts an annual contest for the commercial passenger fishing vessel ("party boat") fleet, with a prize for the vessel that turns in the most heads and the vessel that turns in the most tagged fish. In 2004, one vessel took home both prizes, earning the vessel owners $2,000.

Funding for OREHP comes from the Ocean Enhancement stamp ($3.70) that all recreational anglers fishing south of Point Arguello (Santa Barbara County) are required to purchase. Ninety percent of the funds for OREHP come from the recreational fishing community. Commercial passenger fishing vessels ("party boats") and commercial fishermen that catch white seabass south of Point Arguello also support OREHP through purchase of an Ocean Enhancement stamp ($35.50). Stamp sales provide almost one million dollars to OREHP annually.

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What's That Glow on the Beach?

by William Paznokas, Environmental Scientist

As the sun sets on the distant horizon and night starts its march upon the seashore, a strange phenomenon begins to take shape. Streaks of blue-green light dance in the surf, every movement outlined by thousands of tiny organisms whose internal enzymes cause great cascades of glowing bioluminescence. The surf, fish, and even footprints in the sand light up like neon lights. What causes this strange occurrence? It's just one part of a larger phenomenon commonly known as a red tide.

Recently, large-scale red tides have occurred throughout much of Southern California, raising questions about the sources and effects of the phenomenon. This year, the red tide began in early June, and persisted into at least late August (as of press time). Red tides occur sporadically, usually during spring and summer months. This particular occurrence has been one of the most extensive (from northern Baja California to Santa Barbara) and persistent on record.

The term red tide is something of a misnomer: The condition is actually caused by algae (minute, free-floating aquatic plants) which may be red, brown or other colors. Red coloration may be caused by reddish pigments within the algae, and has nothing to do with tidal cycles.

Most species of algae do little harm. As the basic energy producers of the food web, they support higher life forms. Algae may also generate as much as 80 percent of the planet's oxygen.

Occasionally, dense patches of algae can accumulate on the surface of the water during rapid growth periods, called blooms. These patches are generally not harmful, and eventually sink to the bottom where they decompose. When the sun sets and photosynthesis stops, however, algae produce carbon dioxide and may consume great amounts of oxygen. Fish caught in bays and other enclosed bodies of water may suffocate from a lack of dissolved oxygen caused by algal blooms.

Only a few dozen species are associated with harmful algal blooms. Some may produce poisons called neurotoxins that can be transferred through the food web. In sufficient quantities, neurotoxins may kill higher forms of life, including zooplankton, shellfish, fish, birds, and marine mammals that feed either directly or indirectly upon them.

People may be exposed to neurotoxins through the consumption of contaminated shellfish. At certain times and in certain areas, warnings are posted to prevent people from eating shellfish that contain dangerous levels of neurotoxins. Information concerning toxic shellfish is provided by the Department of Health Services via their Shellfish Hotline at (800) 553-4133, or (510) 540-2605 in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

The amazing phenomenon that occurs during red tides, bioluminescence, is caused by metabolic processes within the algae that produce light. When present in large numbers, some species of algae can create a virtual ocean fireworks show. Throwing a rock in the water, paddling a kayak, or even swimming at night during a red tide creates physical movement in the water that causes the algae to glow. These algae can cause breakers along the beach to shimmer with bioluminescent light. Swimming or surfing during a red tide is not necessarily dangerous, since many of the algae that cause red tides are non-toxic, but showering after a swimming or surfing session is always advised.

For more information about red tides, visit the following websites:

The Surfrider Foundation

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

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Marine Management News Fish Identification Quiz!

by Mary Patyten, Research Writer

Welcome to the first installment of the Marine Management News Fish Identification Quiz! Here's your chance to show off your knowledge and win an official Department of Fish and Game fish tagging cap. To win, simply be the first to send an e-mail to correctly identifying:

  • The species of the fish pictured below (scientific name and a common name), and
  • The current daily bag limit, as given in the recreational fishing regulations for California!
Be sure to type "September 2005 MMN Fish Quiz" in the "Subject" portion of your e-mail.

Photograph of species for fish ID quiz

This fish begins life in California waters with many thousands - sometimes millions - of its fellow hatchlings, during spawning periods from December through March each year. The tiny young fish, only a fraction of an inch long, are first seen in tide pools and nearshore kelp beds in April. As they mature, the young fish move to deeper, rocky bottom habitat (often where rock meets sand). Adults of this species are found most commonly in waters between 300 and 500 ft. deep.

Just like people, males and females of this species mature at different ages and sizes. Off California, many reach maturity by 13 years of age, when they measure between 16 and 21 inches in length. This slow-growing species can live to be more than 80 years old. The largest specimen on record was close to 30 inches long.

The first record of commercial use for this species extends back to the early 1880s when it was caught off San Francisco, dried, and salted for food. Over the years, this species has been plentiful in commercial trawl and hook-and-line landings in northern and central California, and has also been a staple of the recreational fishery. A recent stock assessment has shown that the current population has been reduced substantially from historical levels, leading to fishing restrictions intended to rebuild the stock.

This species ranges from the Gulf of Alaska to northern Baja California, although it is found less frequently south of the Santa Barbara Channel.

If you think you know this species of fish, claim your prize by being the first to send an e-mail to DFG at with the correct scientific and common name, and the current daily bag limit. Again, be sure to type "September 2005 MMN Fish Quiz" in the "Subject" portion of your e-mail.

Want to win an extra cap for your buddy? Send in the scientific and common name of a very similar fish that is often mistaken for the one pictured above!

Answers to the quiz and the winner's name will be published in the December issue of Marine Management News.

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DFG Senior Volunteers Lend a Hand With Annual Abalone Creel Survey

by Mary Patyten, Research Writer

This summer, a contingent of Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Senior Volunteers from Southern California made their way north to the Mendocino coast to help with the annual abalone creel survey. Approximately one dozen volunteers measured abalone and recorded important data from Bodega Bay to Fort Bragg, with guidance from DFG marine biologists. The data gathered in the creel surveys help DFG biologists make informed decisions about abalone fishery management.

"I had a terrific time," said Lee Mueller, a Senior Volunteer from Orange County. "I actually had members of the public come up and thank me!"

According to Mueller, he and DFG Senior Biologist Pete Haaker recorded and measured over 600 abalone during one day's creel surveying.

"We wouldn't have been able to cover as many areas - or cover them as well - without help from the Senior Volunteers," said Jerry Kashiwada, the DFG marine biologist coordinating the abalone creel survey efforts.

The Senior Volunteer Program was created in 2002 by DFG enforcement personnel to be the eyes and ears of DFG in the field. For more information about the program, visit or call the San Diego DFG office at (858) 467-4257.

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The Scientific Side of the Hot Salmon Bite!

CRFS Fisheries Technician Jayna Schaaf records data from the Monterey Bay salmon rush of '05

by Jayna A. Schaaf, Fisheries Technician

The California Recreational Fisheries Survey, or "CRFS," began in 2004 as an improvement over the earlier Marine Recreational Fishery Statistics Survey. CRFS has also begun collecting tagged salmon heads for DFG's Ocean Salmon Project (OSP). In this article, Fisheries Technician Jayna Schaaf, who began sampling with the OSP before the CRFS was created, takes us through one of her busier days during a hot salmon bite. As a CRFS sampler, Jayna collects marine sport fishing data to help monitor and manage California's marine resources.

I wake to my buzzing alarm clock at 7 a.m.- no time to drag my feet! It's a brisk Saturday morning here in Monterey County, and the weather is perfect for fishing.

I dress quickly and clip on my I.D. badge, which reads, "Jayna Schaaf, Fisheries Technician." My left shoulder bears the familiar blue-and-yellow Department of Fish and Game shield, and on my right shoulder I wear the red-and-white insignia of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Before leaving the house, I check my assortment of sampling gear: measuring board, 8-inch serrated knife, brass scales, plastic baggies, clip board, forms, sunscreen, and lots of sharp no. 2 pencils. Jumping into my car, I drive the short distance to Moss Landing's main launch ramp off Highway 1 in central California. A rush of excitement hits me, and a quick inhale of breath follows as I glance at the parking lot, brimming with 100 private skiff trailers! Moss Landing launch ramp is one of the primary private/rental boat launch sites in Monterey County. As I suspected, it's going to be a busy day.

As a California Recreational Fisheries Survey (CRFS) sampler, I collect demographic information from anglers, recording their catch and fishing location data, and measuring the lengths of as many fish as possible. Some quick math tells me there are about 200 anglers out today who could be landing twice that number of king salmon (chinook), and other species of fish as well. I park my luxurious, mobile "office" - which comes complete with a steering wheel, stick shift, and a great view through the windshield - close to the ramp, and wait for the anglers to return.

The returning boat rush starts early. By 8 a.m., five skiffs are competing for dock space, and trailers have lined up to pull them out. My strategy is to intercept the anglers at the dock without holding up trailer traffic or, if necessary, interview anglers at the wash-down station. My goal is to not miss a single boat.

"How'd you guys do today?" I ask with a smile, formally introducing myself to each boatload of anglers: "Hi, I'm Jayna, and I am collecting biological data regarding fish. I would like ask you a few questions about your fishing trip and see any fish you have landed."

Today the salmon bite is hot, and anglers have come from all over the state to fish in Monterey Bay. I ask every angler the same set of questions: how many aboard were fishing, how many are licensed, the fishing location and water depth (I pull out a map to assist them in locating fishing grounds), what type of gear they used, and how many fish of each species were landed or released. After a year as a CRFS sampler, my questions flow like friendly fishing banter.

For me, though, the exciting part is examining each angler's catch. I hop into, out of, and between the boats and trailers like a bouncing pinball, quickly gathering data on each boat's fish, from silvery-purple salmon with beautifully spotted tails to California halibut, with lips curled down like grumpy old men. Rockfish season has just opened in the area, and I find icy coolers packed with colorful rockfish, like jewels in a treasure chest. My fish identification has to be quick and accurate; on this busy morning I only have a few minutes per boat. Even though I work quickly and diligently, I still end up with a fresh coat of salmon blood on my hands and a rockfish-spined finger.

One angler's king salmon is missing its adipose fin (the small fleshy lobe on the fish's back between the dorsal fin and the tail fin), which marks it as a tagged salmon. About 10 percent of hatchery-reared chinook have tiny coded-wire tags implanted in their snouts, after which the adipose fins are clipped. One of my most important duties is to check each salmon for the presence of this fin, and ask for any tagged salmon heads so that the tag - and its precious data - can be recovered.

About one in four anglers reacts negatively to a request for a salmon head. I've smoothed over many such encounters by explaining to the angler why we take the heads, and the resulting benefits to salmon populations. I've also reminded anglers that Section 8226 of the Fish and Game Code says that anglers "upon request by an authorized agent of the Department, [must] immediately relinquish the head of the salmon to the State." Fortunately, this angler has participated in the survey before and is happy to allow me to remove the salmon's head.

Later that day, as I place 12 chinook heads in the cooler, the next boat arrives. An angler from the boat calls out to me sarcastically, "What are you going to do with all those heads, eat them?" As I complete the interview and begin to examine the angler's catch, I find a coho, or "silver" salmon. Unfortunately, possession of this endangered fish is prohibited in California marine waters. The angler is taken aback when I tell him that he has landed a coho. On top of this, the coho is missing its adipose fin. I take the head.

"You gonna give me a ticket?" he squeaks. I inform him that I am not an enforcement officer, but let him know in no uncertain terms that possession of coho salmon is prohibited by law. I show him the correct way to tell the difference between a chinook and a coho salmon, and go about my day.

By lunchtime I have interviewed 40 boatloads of anglers, and seen many fish. I wash my hands, squeeze in a quick bite to eat from the local hot dog stand, and then continue getting my uniform bloody and slimy.

Interviewing anglers and listening to "fish stories" might seem like an easy job, but there is so much more to being a CRFS sampler. Aside from data collection, sampling is also a public relations job, with the sampler (me) as the focal point for friendly as well as unfriendly anglers.

Two common questions that I hear from anglers are "Why are you collecting this information?" and "What do you do with all those heads?" To answer their questions, I pull out CRFS brochures for them to take home, and explain the importance of the CRFS, what the data are used for, and why we take the salmon heads.

Northwesterly winds begin to pick up in the afternoon, and most of the skiffs are blown off the water by 5 p.m. I'll spend the night tallying up numbers and editing my forms, but I feel good as I drive home, unconsciously picking fish scales from my hands and arms. My work is important for the California recreational fishery. I might not have a single pair of unstained blue jeans, and my car might sometimes smell like fish, but I have done my part for the good of both the fish and the anglers.

For more information about the California Recreational Fisheries Survey, visit DFG's Marine Region website at

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Abalone Recovery and Management Plan Reviewed,
Scheduled for Adoption in November

by Mary Patyten, Research Writer

In July and August, the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) held five public meetings to gather final comments on the draft Abalone Recovery and Management Plan (ARMP). After reviewing comments and receiving information presented by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) at its August 19 meeting, the Commission requested that DFG include constituent comments regarding Alternative 1 (a proposal to allow fishing at San Miguel Island prior to full recovery) in the final document. The Commission also directed DFG to provide updated information concerning the abalone resource at its September 29-30 meeting in Susanville. The DFG will continue to collect new data during field surveys of abalone over the next month.

The draft ARMP will be considered for adoption at the November 3-4, 2005 Commission meeting in Santa Barbara. The document is currently available online through the Marine Region website and at all DFG offices. For more information, visit the ARMP website at or call Mr. Ian Taniguchi, ARMP Coordinator, at (562) 342-7182.

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Commercial Greenlings Fishery Fills Quota, Closes for 2005

by Mary Patyten, Research Writer

The commercial fishery for greenlings of the genus Hexagrammos (kelp greenling and rock greenling) was closed August 1, 2005 as it neared its annual quota of 3,400 lb for the year.

The final tally of landings supports the Department of Fish and Game's (DFG's) decision to close the fishery. DFG has no plans to re-open the fishery later this year.

Kelp and rock greenlings are targeted primarily in the live-fish fishery and are incidentally caught in other groundfish fisheries. For more information, contact Ms. Deb Wilson-Vandenberg at (831) 649-2892, or Mr. Robert Leos at (831) 649-2889.

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Commercial Lobster Operator Permits Gain Transferability

by Mary Patyten, Research Writer

In late 2004, the commercial lobster fishing industry approached the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) to request transferability for lobster operator permits. Regulations were adopted by the Commission in May, 2005 and went into effect in July, 2005 that allow reclassification of some non-transferable lobster operator permits to transferable permits.

The commercial lobster fishery has not allowed new entrants into the fishery since the 1996-1997 season, when it became a restricted access fishery. Permit transferability will allow younger fishermen or crews to enter the fishery. Transferability also protects part of a fisherman's investment in the fishery, per the Commission's policy on restricted access fisheries. For fishermen, as with small business owners or farmers, retirement funds are derived from the sale of their business. Permit transferability allows lobster operator permit holders to sell their permits to help fund their retirement.

Of the 220 current lobster operator permits, 130 became transferable by meeting specific landing criteria. The new regulations limit the number of transfers during the first three years to ten per year. For the upcoming 2005-2006 season, six permits have been transferred. The new regulations also changed the renewal date for the lobster operator permit to make it consistent with other fisheries.

For more information about the new regulations, visit the Commission website at or contact Ms. Kristine Barsky, invertebrate biologist specialist, at (805) 985-3114.

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2005 CalCOFI Conference Set for December

by Mary Patyten, Research Writer

The California Oceanic Cooperative Fisheries Investigations, or CalCOFI for short, is a unique partnership of the California Department of Fish and Game, NOAA Fisheries Service, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Each year, CalCOFI holds an annual conference focusing on a different aspect of the marine environment.

This year's conference, entitled "CalCOFI: The Sum of the Parts," will be held in Sumner Auditorium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA. The conference begins Monday, December 5, and continues through Wednesday, December 7.

This "Sum of the Parts" conference will celebrate CalCOFI's ancillary projects - from past to present and from graduate student research to multi-year, multi-million dollar programs.

Registration fees are due November 1. For more information about this year's CalCOFI conference, visit their website at or contact Charleen Johnson, CalCOFI Conference Coordinator, at

CalCOFI publishes data reports and a scientific journal, and maintains a publicly accessible data server at The cooperative was formed in 1949 to study the ecological aspects of the collapse of the sardine populations off California, and today focuses on the marine environment at large.

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Get Hooked on the Marine Region website!

by Aaron Del Monte, Assistant Information Systems Analyst and Marine Region Webmaster

For the latest information on fishing regulations, marine resources, and news affecting our California coastline, your first stop should be the Department of Fish and Game Marine Region website, located at This comprehensive information source currently contains over 1,800 Web pages readily available to the public. If you are new to the Marine Region website, we invite you to see what a truly valuable resource we have created. For those of you who have already visited our website, be sure to check back regularly, since new features, updates, and news releases are added every week. Here are a few recent, noteworthy additions to our website:

  • Herring Fishery Information This portion of our site is a wonderful resource if you are looking for information about the herring fishery. There have been a number of recent additions and changes to these pages, most notably the addition of the 2005 California Environmental Quality Act Document.
  • Fish Identification Resources Do you need to identify a fish? We have recently increased the number of resources on this page to help you solve your scaly, slimy, and finny mysteries. From our home page, just click the blue "Fish Identification" tab, and you will be presented with 15 different links that connect to image libraries, identification guides, and more.
  • Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative The 1999 MLPA directed the state to design and manage a network of marine protected areas in order to, among other things, protect marine life and habitats, marine ecosystems, and marine natural heritage, as well as improve the recreational, educational, and study opportunities provided by marine ecosystems. The Initiative partnership between government agencies and private entities is striving to achieve the original MLPA goals. The MLPA website, which includes many recent additions, contains up-to-date information about this endeavor, including upcoming meeting information and documents for review. Within the next month, look for some interesting improvements to these pages.

Here are some of our most popular pages:

  • California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations Map Going ocean fishing? This should be your first stop. Simply click the marine location where you plan to fish and you will access a compact list of sport fishing regulations for that area. The pages are printer-friendly, so you can print the regulations and take them with you on your next fishing trip. These pages are updated frequently, so you can be assured that they contain the most up-to-date information.
  • In-Season Ocean Fishing Regulation Changes for 2005 Since the printing of the 2005 Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet (also available on our website), there have been a few in-season regulation changes. On this page, you will find a complete list of these changes and related news releases, as well as contact information if you have further questions.
  • Laws and Regulations Page This page is your main source for information concerning commercial and sport fishing regulations. Over thirty links connect you to a variety of information concerning current regulations.
  • Fishing Page One of our most popular pages of all, this page contains links to the three previous resources, as well as information on specific species, permits and licenses, record fish and invertebrate trophies, and a number of annual reports and sets of data. Whether you are a recreational or commercial fisherman, you're sure to find some useful information on this page.

One final note: Thank you to those who participated in our annual website survey, which was featured on our website until September 2. Your responses help us develop the Marine Region website to best meet your needs. One respondent, whose name will be announced in the December issue of the Marine Management News, will win a free copy of DFG's California's Living Marine Resources: A Status Report. Look for our next Web survey in summer, 2006.

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Fishery Openers and Closures, September 1 through December 30, 2005

Recreational Fishery

Complete regulations available wherever fishing licenses are sold, at local DFG offices, or online at

September 1

  • Recreational Pismo clam season opens in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties
  • The depth limit for recreational groundfish fishing changes from waters less than 360 ft (60 fm) to waters less than 180 ft (30 fm) for boat-based anglers, from Point Conception to the California- Mexico border

September 12

  • Recreational ocean salmon season closes from Humbug Mt., Oregon to Horse Mt., California

September 26

  • Recreational ocean salmon season closes from Pigeon Pt. to the California-Mexico border

October 1

  • Recreational California scorpionfish season opens for boat-based anglers from Point Conception to the California Mexico border in waters less than 180 ft. deep (inside 30 fathoms)
  • Recreational Pacific halibut season closes statewide
  • Recreational spiny lobster season opens

November 1

  • The depth limit for recreational groundfish fishing changes from waters less than 180 ft (30 fm) to waters less than 360 ft (60 fm) for boat-based anglers, from Point Conception to the California- Mexico border

November 5

  • Recreational Dungeness crab season opens south of the Mendocino-Sonoma county line

November 14

  • Recreational ocean salmon season closes from Horse Mt. to Pigeon Pt.

November 26

  • Recreational Dungeness crab season opens north of the Mendocino-Sonoma county line

December 1

  • Recreational abalone season closes
  • Recreational lingcod season closes statewide

Commercial Fishery

Complete regulations are available at your local DFG office or online at

September 1

  • Commercial clam season opens in Districts 8, 9, 17, and in Marin County (open year-round in the rest of the state)

September 15

  • Commercial anchovy season opens in the Southern Permit Area

October 1

  • Commercial ridgeback prawn (trawl) opens in Districts 6, 7, 10, 17, 18, 19

October 6

  • Commercial spiny lobster season opens in Districts 18, 19, 20A and part of District 20.

November 1

  • Commercial spot prawn (trap) season closes in Districts 18 (south of Pt. Arguello), 19, 19A, 20, 20A, 21
  • Commercial coonstripe shrimp season closes statewide
  • Commercial pink shrimp (trawl) closes in Districts 6, 7, 10, 17, 18, 19

November 15

  • Commercial Dungeness crab season opens in all Districts except 6, 7, 8, 9 (pending condition test)

December 1

  • Commercial Dungeness crab season opens in Districts 6, 7, 8, 9 (pending condition test)

Note : This list addresses regularly scheduled seasonal openers and closures, excluding commercial seasons dictated primarily by quota or other means. See complete regulations for additional fishing restrictions such as quotas, fishing depth or gear restrictions, etc.

The emergency closure of any fishery is possible regardless of season dates published in this newsletter. For the latest information regarding fishing regulations, check with your local DFG office or one of the following information sources:

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Upcoming MLPA Meetings

The development of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) is guided by the advice of scientists, resource managers, experts, stakeholders, and members of the public. The public is encouraged to attend MLPA meetings, or watch meetings live over the Internet (go to Public comment periods will be held at the meetings as appropriate. Upcoming meetings include the following:

Central Coast Regional Stakeholders Group Meeting
September 7-8, 2005
Cambria Pines Lodge
Peacock Conference Room
2905 Burton Drive
Cambria, CA

Blue Ribbon Task Force Meeting
September 28-29, 2005
San Luis Obispo/Morro Bay area
(Exact location still to be determined. Check website for details)

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Fishery Management Meetings

2005 Fish and Game Commission

September 29-30
November 3-4
December 8-9
Santa Barbara

2005 Pacific Fishery Management Council

September 18-23
October 30-November 4
Portland Oregon
San Diego, California

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.