Adoption of Ocean Fishing Regulations Delayed

January 5, 2001

CONTACT: Don Schultze, Marine Region, (916) 722-7658
Troy Swauger, Information Officer, (916) 654-2096

Approval and application of late additions to the California Fish and Game Commission's recent interim regulatory measures aimed at protecting certain species of ocean finfish have been delayed a month, resulting in an interim gap between state and federal regulations.

On Dec. 8, 2000, the Commission approved a suite of measures that protected certain deep water and nearshore marine finfish species. The action was taken to promote the sustainability of the fisheries, both sport and commercial, and to conform California regulations for state waters (up to 3 miles offshore) with federal groundfish regulations for federal waters (from 3 to 200 miles offshore) that became effective Jan. 4.

Implementation of California's regulations were planned for Jan. 1. However, initially proposed regulations involving sport fishing for ocean whitefish were changed at the Commission's final adoption meeting resulting in the need for an additional 15-day public comment period. Also, special efforts taken by the Commission to solicit public participation in this special regulatory process resulted in an unprecedented volume of public input (over 1,000 comments) requiring substantially greater time than expected for the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to review and comment on them.

The final regulations are expected to be in force on or before Feb. 1, and will be posted on DFG's web site ( Until then, the regulations adopted last year affecting the sport take of rockfish, lingcod, and associated species in state waters remain in effect. The specific regulations are contained in the Sport Fishing Regulations Booklet for 2000 and the Sport Fishing Regulations 2000 Supplement No. 2, which are available at DFG offices, and can be viewed on the web site.

The rockfish and lingcod closure implemented last year affecting sport fishing within state waters south of Lopez Point in Monterey County to the Mexico border during January and February remains in effect. This is noteworthy because regulations for federal waters in this area allow fishing for these species. Anglers in this area are advised that if they fish in federal waters they cannot fish in state waters with rockfish or lingcod in possession.

There are additional, temporary differences between the state and federal fishing regulations for rockfish and lingcod. They include:

* Oregon Border to Lopez Point: Both state and federal waters are open to rockfish and lingcod fishing. The bag limit for rockfish is 10 fish, for lingcod (26 inches or longer) it is two fish. Anglers are urged to abide by the federal sub-limits of two bocaccio and one canary rockfish. Cowcod retention is specifically prohibited in the federal regulations.

* Lopez Point to Point Conception: State waters in this area are closed to rockfish and lingcod fishing. Federal waters are open with a daily bag limit of 10 rockfish and two lingcod (26 inches or longer). Anglers must abide by the federal rockfish sub-limits of two bocaccio and one canary rockfish. Cowcod retention is prohibited.

* Point Conception to the Mexico Border: State waters are closed to rockfish and lingcod fishing. Federal waters are open to fishing for nearshore rockfish, but only if the fishing is conducted in waters less than 120 feet in depth.

In all waters, the sheephead bag limit continues to be 10 fish until the new Commission regulations are in force. The cabezon minimum size limit in state waters is 14 inches, but anglers are urged to abide by the federal 15-inch minimum for this species. State regulations will conform to the federal regulations upon completion of the state regulatory process.

Commercial fishermen are advised that there are no differences in state and federal regulations for rockfish and lingcod or groundfish in general. Details of the regulations can be viewed on the federal web page (

The Commission's recently approved measures affecting commercial fishing for cabezon, sheephead, and greenlings are on hold until the regulations can be implemented.

Sport anglers and commercial fishermen can call a special DFG recording at 1-800-766-9124 to hear the status of the Commission's regulations. More detailed information on the state and federal regulations can be viewed on DFG's web page (