What the DFG tells Canada, but not California sportfishermen....

FROM: California Department of Fish and Game Agency Report
TO: The Technical Subcommittee of the Canada-United States Groundfish Committee

May 2000

Nearshore Reef Fish Tagging Project (Northern California)

An ongoing fisheries independent tagging study of nearshore reef fish including rockfish, cabezon and greenling continued during 1999 in order to: a) evaluate movement and homesite fidelity by size and stage of maturity for nearshore species, b) determine growth rates in northern California and compare them to published studies elsewhere, c) determine if conventional external tags are less effective than coded wire tags with respect to mortality, loss rates, or effects on growth, d) establish relative fishing mortality from an expanding live-fish fishery to sport fishing both near and far from ports of access, and e) examine changes in size distribution and size frequency of nearshore reef fish during a period of expansion in the Mendocino county live fish fishery. A total of 12,307 nearshore reef fish were captured between 1996 and 1998. Preliminary recovery rates for individual species ranges from 0% to 25% with an average return rate of 6.2 percent for species in which tags have been recovered. The overall return rate including all tag types is 3.1% (305 tag returns/9,751 tagged fish released). We expect that tagged fish will continue to be recaptured for several more years, because a large share (over 30%) of the tag returns occurred in 1999.

Preliminary results:

Home site preference has been shown in cabezon recaptured on their home reef after being captured and displaced several miles. High recovery rates for cabezon and a shift to smaller average size suggest extreme fishing pressure focused on this species from the newly formed live-fish fishery off Fort Bragg. Two lingcod tagged inshore during the spawning and egg incubation season were captured by offshore trawlers during non-spawning months. Based on recapture of tagged fish, commercial fishing mortality from the live-fish fishery was highest for cabezon, gopher rockfish and china rockfish. This source of mortality was greatest in near-port areas. Recreational fishery impacts were greatest for black rockfish, vermillion rockfish and lingcod. Sport fishery impacts predominately occurred 0 to 7 nautical miles from major ports, and commercial live-fish fishery impacts were mostly nearer to ports, at 0 to 5 nautical miles. A black rockfish that was tagged 8/24/96 near Fort Bragg was recaptured on 8/2/99 off of Depot Bay, Oregon (north of Newport), a total of 360 nautical miles from where it was released. Seven additional black rockfish and two canary rockfish have also been recaptured in Oregon.