DFG Recommends Emergency Closure of Offshore
Rockfish and Longcod Sport fisheries

California Department of Fish and Game
01:085 October 2, 2001
Contact: Don Schultze, Marine Region, (916) 227-5670

Because of high early season rockfish catches, the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) will recommend to the Fish and Game Commission at its Oct. 5 meeting in San Diego an emergency closure of all offshore rockfish and lingcod sport fisheries south of Cape Mendocino in Humboldt County. The proposed action affects sections 27.82, 28.54 and 28.55 of Title 14, California Code of Regulations.

The Commission meeting is scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. at the Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute, Shedd Auditorium, 2595 Ingraham Street, San Diego.

Fishing for nearshore rockfish and associated species, under DFG's Nearshore Fishery Management Plan, would continue in waters less than 20 fathoms (120 feet) in depth along the mainland coast and around offshore islands and rocks. The offshore closure would be lifted effective Jan. 1, 2002 when new harvest limits will be available to the recreational and commercial sectors.

The emergency closure is aimed at protecting bocaccio and canary rockfish, two species that generally occupy waters deeper than 20 fathoms and that have been declared overfished by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Long term rebuilding plans for the two species call for greatly reduced catch levels compared to recent years by all ocean fisheries. NMFS has already taken action effective Oct. 1 to reduce catches by offshore commercial trawl and fixed gear fisheries.

Early season closures implemented in the recreational fishery earlier this year by the Fish and Game Commission were expected to significantly limit rockfish catches, but that has not been the case, according to a federal fishery survey. Through June, the state's recreational fisheries had already reached close to the allowable catch of each species set aside for the entire year.

If the emergency closure is approved by the Commission at the Oct. 5 meeting, NMFS is expected to take similar action affecting sport fishing in federal waters, 3 to 200 miles offshore.