Proposal to Sustain Nearshore Reef Fish Populations in California

Problem 1: The sustainability of numerous nearshore reef fishes under existing fishing conditions is uncertain. A variety of data indicates significant declines of nearshore fish are occurring and marine biologists have express concern for the long-term sustainability of nearshore fisheries. Fishers continue to develop more efficient fishing methods in response to declining stocks.

Goal 1: Reduce the take of nearshore fishes until science-based harvest guidelines and management measures are implemented as part of the FMP



Alternative A: Reduce the nearshore (inside 1 nm) recreational bag limit (currently proposed by CDFG)

Bag limits have traditionally considered the best method to regulate the recreational fishery

Alternative B: Limit of 1 hook per line and 1 rod per angler inside 1 nm of shore for reef fish

Could serve to reduce recreational gear efficiency

Alternative C: Size limits for selected nearshore fishes

Apply only to fish with low mortality potential during catch and release such as cabezon, greenling, sculpins

Alternative D: Sub-limit of "species of concern" within overall bag limit

Considered least desirable due to potential for angler confusion when identifying species


Commercial Measures (applies only within 1 nm for reef fishes)

Alternative A: Restrict commercial gear to rod-and-reel similar to that used by recreational fishers.

(Would immediately reduce overall take overall and largely mitigate user conflicts. Rod-and-reel can be highly effective for midwater fish such as blue rockfish - see problem 2 listed below)

Alternative B: Create seasonal or area closures for selected commercial gear types such as longlines, set gear and fish traps.


Problem 2: Potential market interest in midwater nearshore species is emerging as shallow water benthic fish become relatively scarce. Markets are creating incentives for commercial fishers to begin targeting midwater fish species. These fish are considered highly vulnerable to overfishing and are generally considered fully exploited by the existing recreational fishery. Additional commercial pressure has the potential to adversely impact both the sustainability of these stocks and the viability of the existing recreational nearshore fishery. Commercial use of even rod-and-reel gear has the potential to have a major impact on mid-water species abundance.

Goal 2: Discourage expansion of the commercial fishery into midwater nearshore fish species until a harvest guideline is developed as part of the FMP.

Alternative A: Create disincentives for commercial fishers to target blue, black, olive, yellowtail, canary and other nearshore midwater rockfish, but allow some take to reduce discard potential. Consider a commercial daily bag limit equal to one recreational daily bag limit (15 fish).

Problem 3: High levels of commercially harvested fish are not reported nor documented. The commercial shallow water, nearshore fishery is diffuse and uses a variety of vessel and gear types. Past undercover investigations documented a high proportion of the commercial catch is unreported making management of the resource unfeasible.

Goal 3: Provide a means to readily identify commercial nearshore vessels and vehicles used to transport commercial fish.

Alternative A: Require all commercial vessels (or fishers if no vessel is used) to clearly display their nearshore permit number utilizing high visibility lettering

All vehicles used to transport commercial fish should have a high visibility placard clearly identifying their use for the transport of commercial fish

Penalties for failure to comply and evading landing requirements should result in loss of fishing privileges