California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Marine Management News: December 2000

Welcome to the second edition of the Marine Management News newsletter! This issue features a special article on the appointment of a new head of the Marine Region and the initiation of what we hope will become a regular column that explains various facets of the Marine Life Management Act. As always, there are also plenty of specific fishery updates.

Articles and Updates

 

New Leadership Named for Department of Fish and Game's Marine Region

Robert Hight, Director of California's Department of Fish and Game (DFG), announced the appointment of Patricia Wolf to head the Department's Marine Region. The Marine Region is headquartered in Monterey and among other responsibilities, leads the Department's effort to implement the State's Marine Life Management Act.

"I believe Patty Wolf is an outstanding choice to lead the Department's efforts to preserve and protect the natural resources along California's coastline," Hight said in announcing the appointment, "Our State's coastal resources are an invaluable element of both the California environment and lifestyle. Providing effective management for those resources is one of our highest priorities and I'm certain Patty has the experience and qualifications necessary to lead this effort."

As Regional Manager Wolf will coordinate all marine activities along the California coastline from Oregon to Mexico. "I'm looking forward to helping the Department of Fish and Game meet the many challenges we face as we strive to effectively manage California's important marine resources," Wolf said, "One of the challenges I look forward to addressing most is building better communications with the public and the various constituent groups who have a deep interest in how those resources are managed."

Wolf has been a Fish and Game employee for almost 20 years, starting her career in 1981. For the last three years, she has been the Region's Offshore Ecosystem Coordinator and the Department's alternate member of the Pacific Fishery Management Council. Before that Wolf spent 13 years in the Marine Resources Division, mostly in Long Beach. She worked as a biologist and supervised fisheries management and assessment programs. She also served as coordinator and Department committee member for the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI).

Wolf graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a B.A. in Biological Sciences. She also completed four years of graduate studies in marine biology at the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in Monterey Bay.

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Marine Life Management Act

This column is being initiated to shed light on various aspects of the Marine Life Management Act that constituents have shown an interest in learning more about. In this issue we look at the purpose and role of Essential Fishery Information.

Under the Marine Life Management Act (MLMA), fishery management decisions are to be based on the best available scientific and other relevant information, including what the MLMA calls essential fishery information. Among other things, "essential fishery information" includes information about the life history and habitat requirements of a species, status and trends in fish populations, effects of fishing on the age structure of populations and on other marine living resources and users. The MLMA calls upon the Department to collect essential fishery information for all marine fisheries managed by the State in cooperation with participants in the fishery That information is then integrated into a fishery management plan.

To foster improvements in the management of individual fisheries, the MLMA also requires that each fishery management plan include a research protocol. Among other things, this protocol must describe essential fishery information for that fishery, the time and resources needed to fill information gaps, and the steps the Department will take to obtain that information.

One way the Department has begun efforts to collect essential fishery information is through cooperation with scientists at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. Eric Knaggs, David VenTresca, and Dr. Robert Lea in the Department's Monterey office collaborated on a project headed by Dr. Gregor Cailliet to assemble information on 124 nearshore fish species. This project resulted in a database which details life history information and shows gaps in the available data.

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Significant Regulatory Action

As this issue of the newsletter goes to print, the Fish and Game Commission will be meeting December 7-8 in Eureka to make final decisions regarding continental shelf (shelf) groundfish and nearshore fishing regulations. The shelf groundfish proposals will be the same as those recently adopted by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) for recreational and commercial fishing in federal waters (3-200 miles offshore).

Groundfish are so named because they generally associate with the ocean floor. The term includes a complex of over 80 marine finfish species including rockfishes, lingcod, various flat fish species and other round fish species.

A major element of the PFMC package is the prohibition on the take of all federal groundfish species in two areas, including one very large area off southern California, totaling about 4300 square nautical miles. The closure areas are aimed at protecting cowcod rockfish from incidental harvest in fisheries directed at associated species.

The Commission will be asked to adopt regulations for various state-managed species (ocean whitefish and commercial shrimp and prawn trawling in the cowcod conservation area) to complement the PFMC regulations. Also on the Commission agenda is adoption of final regulations affecting restricted access in the pink shrimp fishery.

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MLMA Evaluation Advisory Committee

The Marine Life Management Act Evaluation Advisory Committee met for their quarterly meeting in San Diego on October 17th. The committee agreed upon several roles for themselves which include:

  • Sharing expertise and providing advice and recommendations
  • Conducting broad review of draft documents.
  • Providing general oversight of MLMA implementation and assuring that there is meaningful integration of all MLMA activities.

They heard presentations by Department staff concerning draft portions of the Master Plan including the Fisheries Management Plan format, the list of State managed fisheries covered by the plan, and a potential process for determining a priority list of Fisheries Management Plan candidates. They also received an overview of potential policy issues, and the major components of the constituent involvement plan. Committee members provided input and suggestions and volunteered to assist Department staff in refining draft portions of the Master Plan. Their next meeting is planned for February when they will discuss the completed first draft of the Master Plan and receive updates on other MLMA activities.

The Committee presently consists of 11 members: Dr. M. James Allen and Dr. Brent Stewart, representing the scientific community; Mr. Orlando Amoroso, Mr. Don Dodson, Mr. Dale Glantz, and Mr. Peter Halmay, representing commercial harvesters; Dr. Rodney Fujita and Mr. Mark Powell, representing the environmental community; and Mr. Bob Fletcher, Mr. Tom Raftican and Mr. Mike Malone, representing the recreational fishing community. An additional recreational community member will soon be appointed by the Director of Fish and Game. For further information, please contact Marija Vojkovich (805) 568-1246.

Constituents will be provided with information through this newsletter, the MLMA website, news releases and mass mailings. Two documents will be prepared prior to the NFMP: at the end of January, the Conceptual Framework will be available, and at the end of March, a Summary of Management Options will be available. The Conceptual Framework will provide an overview of the NFMP, the reasons for a NFMP, species covered by the plan, and the goals and objectives of the plan.

March 2001
Release the Summary of Management Options

April 2001
Hold public meetings to discuss management options and evaluate preferred options

July 2001
Submit Draft NFMP to the Fish and Game Commission

August 2001
Begin public review of the Draft NFMP through the Fish and Game Commission

December 2001
Commission adopts a plan

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Interim Nearshore Fishing Regulations

While the Department has been developing the Nearshore Fisheries Management Plan, the Fish and Game Commission has asked the Department to evaluate and propose interim management measures for the nearshore fisheries. These measures are intended to stabilize nearshore fish stocks while the fishery management plan is being developed.

The Commission is considering changes to ocean sport and commercial fishing regulations affecting nearshore fishes including several rockfish species, lingcod, cabezon, greenlings, California scorpionfish, California sheephead, California halibut, surfperch, sanddabs, starry flounder, leopard shark, and monkey face eels. The Commission is also considering changes to sport and commercial fishing regulations for continental shelf species of finfish including lingcod, rockfishes, and ocean whitefish. These measures are interim to the extent that they will be replaced, or at least amended by the regulations adopted in conjunction with California's Nearshore Fisheries Management Plan on or before January 1, 2002.

A description of the proposed regulatory options can be found on the Department's website. Copies can also be requested from the Commission at the address listed below or by calling (916) 653-4899.

Comments or suggestions for the nearshore interim regulations are encouraged. Comments can be made on line by going to the department's website clicking on Marine Resources and then clicking on the Forum for the discussion of options for managing the nearshore finfish fishery off California. Verbal comments can be made at the Fish and Game Commission Meeting on December 8, 2000 in the Board of Supervisors Chambers, 825 Fifth Street, Eureka, California; the meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m.

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Abalone Recovery and Management Plan

As a result of the Abalone Recovery and Management Plan (ARMP) workshop, a questionnaire was developed to gather information on abalone populations from participants in the fishery. John Ugoretz, a Department marine biologist and member of the Department's abalone team, worked with ex-commercial divers to create the questionnaire. It consists of background information questions and a series of charts. The charts will allow divers (including commercial, recreational and scientific) to submit their personal knowledge, in a standardized format, of where various levels of abalone populations occur.

The first questionnaire is focused on the Channel Islands region, though subsequent ones are planned for other areas of the state. If you have knowledge of abalone in the Channel Islands, or would like to receive a copy of the questionnaire or for more information contact John Ugoretz at: 1933 Cliff Dr., Suite 9, Santa Barbara, CA, 93109, (805) 560 - 6758.

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Nearshore Fishery Management Plan

Constituent involvement will be a major theme throughout the creation of the Nearshore Fisheries Management Plan (NFMP) and the Department will use a number of avenues to engage the public throughout the development of the NFMP including: written comments, the creation of a statewide Advisory Committee, public scoping workshops and meetings to evaluate management options.

The Advisory Committee will consist of representatives from sport and commercial fishing associations, dive groups, non-consumptive users, environmental groups, and non-departmental scientists. The purpose of the Advisory Committee will be to provide the Department with advice, feedback, and recommendations regarding the issues and actions that need to be taken during the development of the NFMP.

Constituents will be provided with information through this newsletter, the MLMA website, news releases and mass mailings. Two documents will be prepared prior to the NFMP: at the end of January, the Conceptual Framework will be available, and at the end of March, a Summary of Management Options will be available. The Conceptual Framework will provide an overview of the NFMP, the reasons for a NFMP, species covered by the plan, and the goals and objectives of the plan. The Summary of Management Options will provide the range of management options and the potential impacts of those options. This Summary will be the basis for selection of a preferred option or suite of options.

Several public scoping workshops and meetings will be held around the state to receive comments on the Conceptual Framework, and management options for the nearshore fishery.

Throughout the process constituents' written comments are encouraged and opportunities to provide written comments will be available via the MLMA web page, the Department or the Commission.

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Abalone Recovery and Management Plan

In an effort to allow early input on the Abalone Recovery and Management Plan (ARMP) the Department's Nearshore Invertebrate Team (NIT) held a commercial constituent workshop July 26. The objectives of the workshop were to disseminate information to the constituents, create a preliminary view on goals for abalone recovery, and obtain input on the commercial goals for future abalone fisheries. The list of participants was created with input from local fishermen, the Recreational Abalone Advisory Committee, and the NIT. An informational letter was also sent to constituents who were not included in this workshop. The workshop is seen as the first in a series of steps to involve all concerned constituents in the planning and implementation of the ARMP. Future workshops, small group conversations, and scoping sessions will provide more input and allow the NIT to draft the ARMP based on the participation of all interested groups. For further information, contact: John Ugoretz at (805) 560-6758 or jugoretz@dfg2.ca.gov

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Squid

The Sher bill, (SB 364), enacted in 1998, required the Department to initiate a research and monitoring program and develop a status report and recommendations for management of market squid. The legislation also required the establishment of constituent and science advisory groups. Both advisory groups are aiding the Department in developing management recommendations. In addition, the Department and several universities are conducting research on squid biology and life history. To gain critical fishery data, commercial catch sampling has been conducted the past three years in southern California and Monterey.

The status report with recommendations for management is to be completed by April 1, 2001. The Department has begun development of a draft management plan and will seek input from the advisory groups and the public during the fall and winter. Written comments and suggestions are always welcome, attendance at advisory committee meetings and dialogue with committee members is encouraged.

In addition, several public meetings will be held in January 2001 to give everyone an opportunity to provide support or suggestions for the management recommendations. For further information, contact: Marija Vojkovich at (805) 568-1246 or mvojkovi@dfg2.ca.gov.

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Pink Shrimp Task Force

In 1993, a moratorium was put on the pink shrimp trawl fishery with the expectation that a limited entry program with transferable permits would be developed. This moratorium expires at the beginning of the next fishing season, April 1, 2001. The Department created a Pink Shrimp Task Force (PSTF) that determined a limited entry program must be in place by the start of next year's fishing season. The PSTF has developed a range of alternatives for a limited entry program and is working with the Department's Restricted Access Policy Team (RAPT) to determine a capacity goal for this fishery. A workshop was held with outside experts, the RAPT, and Department staff to determine capacity goals for pink shrimp. Any proposed limited entry program will be enacted through the Fish and Game Commission. For further information, contact: Kristine Barsky at (805) 568-1220 or kbarsky@dfg2.ca.gov

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Spot Prawn Fishery

In February 2000 the Fish and Game Commission adopted regulations that, among other things, established a control date of January 1, 1999 for establishing a restricted access spot prawn trap fishery and spot prawn/ridgeback prawn trawl fishery. The control date means that anyone who has not landed spot prawns before this date would not be considered for inclusion in a restricted access program. It is likely that minimum landing requirements will be established for the programs which will further reduce the number of eligible participants. Further work on developing the restricted access programs has been put on hold until the Department's Restricted Access Policy Team develops standard guidelines regarding fishery capacity goals and other elements of restricted access programs.

In May 2000 the Fish and Game Commission adopted a regulation requiring the implementation of an on board observer program for the spot prawn trawl and trap fisheries. The program would require proof of payment of an observer fee, ranging from $250 to $1000, for all vessels landing spot prawns from July 1, 2000 to March 31, 2001. Funds will be used to pay for Department observers to collect information on bycatch and to analyze the data. During the next eight months, the Department plans to collect information on the type, condition, and magnitude of bycatch in the spot prawn trawl and trap fisheries, primarily from the ports of Half Moon Bay south to San Diego. For further information, contact: Paul Reilly (831) 649-2879 or preilly@dfg.ca.gov