California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Fishery Independent and Dependent Datasets and Associated Metadata from Northern and Central California, 1958-2006

Refugia Project History: An Overview

Square Black Rock
Through its goals, objectives, policies, and mandates, the Marine Life Management Act of 1998 (MLMA) provides a general framework for developing management programs for California's nearshore finfish fisheries. At the core of the MLMA is the principle of basing decisions on the best available scientific information. The MLMA acknowledges that CDFW has compiled a considerable amount of valuable regional time-series surveys over the years using well-documented sampling methods. Preliminary review of some of these data indicates that these survey results may have substantial value for nearshore fishery management.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Central California Marine Sport Fish Survey (Refugia Project) has collected both fishery-dependent and fishery-independent data on nearshore sport fish species along the central California coast since its inception in 1957 and continuing though 2006. These research and monitoring efforts included: sport and commercial creel surveys; hook-and-line tagging surveys to assess fish movement; underwater surveys using scuba to assess numbers, sizes and habitat associations of young-of-the-year and adult fishes; life history studies of the age, morphometric, meristic, somatic and reproductive characteristics of finfish species; oceanographic surveys; and bottom mapping. Much of this information is summarized and published in Department in-house reports, scientific journals and online sites (Refugia Products). However, the digitized and edited "raw data", related metadata, collection procedures and photographic documentation from these products are not readily accessible by the scientific community or fisheries researchers and managers. The goal of this effort is to provide centralized access to all Refugia Project datasets and their documentation. Hopefully, this information will be a valuable resource for the future protection and enhance of our marine resources and to serve as a baseline in assessing the effectiveness of marine protected areas.

Refugia Project History

The Central California Marine Sport Fish Survey (Refugia Project) had its inception in 1957. The first project leader was Dan Miller (1957-75), who was followed by Dr. Robert Lea (1975-88), Jim Hardwick (1988-92), and David VenTresca (1992-2007). In 1957, the primary focus of the Project, which was then called the "Northern California Marine Sport Fish Survey", was to document the marine recreational fish catch and effort from Oregon to Point Arguello, California. In the late 60's the focus shifted to the collection of life history information on most nearshore fish species that were taken by recreational fishermen. During this period the majority of information was collected from creel surveys, project hook-and-line fishing effort, and some diving surveys. In 1974, a short diving study was conducted to examine the effects of kelp canopy removal on holdfast growth in giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera, and the relative abundance of nearshore rocky reef fishes.

From 1987 to 1992 the project explored the physical and biological processes that influence the distribution, abundance, growth, and survival of young-of-the-year rockfishes and lingcod along the central California coast. The majority of information for this study was collected using in situ scuba surveys. In 1992 Paul Reilly became the Supervisor of the Refugia Project as well as a related project that documented recreational catch on board Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels (CPFV) in northern and central California. The CPFV project ran from 1997 to 1998 and was led by Deb Wilson-Vandenberg. In 1993 the Project focus shifted to examining the potential of marine protected areas (MPA) to enhance nearshore fisheries by assessing fish populations within and adjacent to Big Creek State Marine Reserve (first established in 1994 as Big Creek Marine Resources Protection Act Ecological Reserve) and Point Lobos State Marine Reserve (first established in 1973 as Point Lobos Ecological Reserve). These studies included a combination of in situ diving and hook-and-line fishing within and outside of the MPAs, recreational and commercial creel surveys outside the MPAs, oceanographic sampling, and bottom habitat mapping projects. This project ended in 2004.

By 2004, although the results of many of the Project studies were published (Refugia Products), the scientific community did not have access to the digitized and edited "raw data" from these studies. From 2005 through 2007 an effort (Refugia Metadata Project) was conducted to centralize and archive the many Project long time-series datasets, associated metadata and supporting documentation and make then readily accessible to the scientific community, researchers, and fishery managers. This project consisted of the following staff: David VenTresca, who supplied the datasets, supporting documentation, and historical knowledge of the datasets; two Marine Advanced Technology Education Interns (Anne Elston and Shinobu Okano), who performed the majority of data manipulation and product creation; Paulo Serpa, Marine Region GIS analyst, who provided the expertise to create the ACCESS and GIS products; Paul Reilly, who reviewed and edited project reports; and Aaron Del Monte, Marine Region Webmaster, who created the pages for the Marine Region website. In 2006 the Marine Region reorganized and in 2007 David VenTresca retired and the Refugia Project was discontinued.

Refugia Metadata Project Description

Initially all Project datasets were converted from Borland Dbase to Microsoft Access relational databases. For four data sets SQL queries were written to aggregate the data into spatial and temporal bins as well as summarize the data by fishing effort, species composition, and mean lengths. Data summaries were graphed using Microsoft Excel 2000 and Systat 9.0 and displayed using ESRI ArcGIS 9.1. Five online menu driven Access queriable database products were created.

Additionally, access to all datasets and associated metadata and documentation were centralized and linked via a Microsoft Excel file (see LINK for: Fishery independent and dependent datasets and associated metadata collected by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Refugia Study in northern and central California, 1958-2006). For ease of use, the first tab/page of the Excel file is the "Table of Contents" page. On that page each entry/cell under the "Tab Name" column is hyperlinked to tabs/pages that contain the overview, computer documentation, datasheet, collection procedures (Standard Operating Procedures-S.O.P), etc., for each dataset. The next column to the right is the computer documentation abbreviation for each dataset, and the next column to the right contains the link to the actual database file. The remaining digitized project documentation, JPEG files of scanned slides of project activities, reports, and analysis notes reside on the REFUGIA subdirectory on the Monterey Office network. Hard copies of the original data sheets, reports, maps, pictures and other documentation are labeled as REFUGIA in cabinets in the Monterey Office. For access to this information as well as other questions, please contact:

If you do use information from the website or associated documentation, please reference as follows:

VenTresca, D., A. Elston, P. Serpa, S. Okano, P. Reilly and A. Del Monte. 2007. Fishery Independent and Dependent Datasets and Associated Metadata from Northern and Central California, 1958-2006. Calif. Dept. of Fish and Game. Central California Marine Sport Fish Survey (Refugia Project). http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/refugia.asp.

We have great expectations that this effort to facilitate the access of these long time-series of data will be useful and that the data will be a valuable resource for the future protection and enhance of our marine resources. I would like to express my deepest appreciation to all those "old buddies, old friends" that I was "so bold" to ask for assistance in these various projects. Without your considerable efforts, brilliant suggestions, and cherished comradeship none of this information would have been collected and documented nor we would not have had as much fun as we did. Thanks again for the memories and hasta la vista baby!!!!!

David A. VenTresca
Associate Marine Biologist
Central California Marine Sport Fish Survey (Refugia Project)
California Department of Fish and Game
30 April 2007