California Department of Fish and Game
May 7, 2002

Contacts: Chamois Andersen, Information Officer,
(916) 657 4132

Nancy Wright, Marine Region,
(831) 649 2893

DFG Releases Adaptive Management Plan for California's Nearshore Fishery

FRESNO - The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) will unveil a new plan for marine life that takes an adaptive management approach to conserving the state's economically important nearshore fishery. DFG's Marine Region staff will present the Nearshore Fishery Management Plan (NFMP) to the Fish and Game Commission at its meeting Thursday, May 9 in Fresno.

The new NFMP is a revision of a plan presented to the Commission and public last year. The plan was redrafted to address public input and comments received from a scientific review panel.

The NFMP is designed to guide DFG's management of both the recreational and commercial harvest of 19 finfish species found in the nearshore environment, which spans the state's entire 1,100 mile coast.

DFG and the California Fish and Game Commission will be gathering public comments about the proposed plan over the next couple months both in writing and through a series of public meetings. "With a fishery that involves the state's entire coast, it is important that this plan reflect the needs of all Californians as well as the need for maintaining the health of our vital nearshore species," said DFG Director Robert Hight. "We look forward to hearing from the public about the plan and how we might further improve it."

California's NFMP will be available May 9 on DFG's Web site at Copies may also be reviewed at DFG's Regional offices, harbors and marinas, and at county libraries along the coast.

Written comments will be accepted from May 9 through June 27 and should be mailed to the Fish and Game Commission, Draft Nearshore Fishery Management Plan, 20 Lower Ragsdale Dr., Suite 100, Monterey, CA 93940, or faxed to (831) 649 2894. Comments must include a name and address, and may also be e mailed (add NFMP to subject line) to

The Commission will hear public testimony on the NFMP and its suite of management options at several meetings and special hearings scheduled this summer (see list below). The Commission's adoption hearing is currently slated for Aug. 29 30 in Oakland.

"This plan is the foundation for the nearshore fishery," said DFG Marine Region Manager Patricia Wolf. "It is a process structure that will be used for making decisions and laws, and will guide our management of nearshore fishing activities for many years to come. Thanks to the hard work of many people, including our staff as well as a broad cross section of the public who have a special interest in maintaining a healthy fishery, we've redrafted this plan to reflect the many opinions of users as well as a cadre of scientists from throughout the state."

The first draft NFMP was presented to the Commission in August of 2001. Under the Marine Life Management Act (MLMA) enacted in 1998, the Commission was to adopt the plan by Jan. 1, 2002. However, because the first review period produced a wealth of valuable public comments, the Commission provided DFG with additional time to allow staff to revise the plan.

The plan is organized into three main sections - the fishery management plan, environmental document, and regulations. The plan focuses on 19 finfish species, including cabezon, California scorpionfish and sheephead, kelp and rock greenlings, monkeyface prickleback, and 13 species of rockfish. The plan contains 14 detailed management options for the Commission to consider upon the plan's adoption. Those options relate to annual control rules (the opening and closing of the fishery and the take of certain species), allocation of fish between sport and commercial users, and the potential use of marine protected areas as one tool to help conserve nearshore stocks.

Also included are sections on research needs and the costs associated with implementing the plan.

The NFMP relies heavily on regional management and collaborative research. Within the plan, DFG recommends dividing the coast into three main regions:
the North Region, from the California/Oregon border south to Cape Mendocino (Humboldt County);
Central Region, from Cape Mendocino south to Point Conception (Santa Barbara County);
and South Region, from Point Conception south to the California/Mexico border.

These three regions are currently being used as research areas for gathering and analyzing data such as fish population surveys.

The framework plan for the nearshore fishery was developed to be conducive to regional and adaptive management approaches. Based on new information learned about nearshore populations and the state's changing fish markets, DFG can alter its regional management practices through this plan without affecting the entire nearshore ecosystem.

The concept of managing the state's nearshore fishery as one ecosystem and by way of regional management is a direct result of the MLMA, and the intent of the state Legislature to manage the entire fishery for the long term. The act's overriding goal is to ensure the conservation, sustainable use, and restoration of all of California's living marine resources. Under the MLMA, fishery management plans such as the one for the nearshore fishery, provide parameters to allocate any increases or decreases in allowable catches fairly between commercial and recreational users.

The NFMP takes an adaptive approach to fishery management and was developed in accordance with the MLMA, which relies heavily on collaborative science and stakeholder involvement.

The following is a list of scheduled Commission meetings and special hearing dates:

* May 9, Commission meeting (DFG presents revised plan), City Council Chambers 2600 Fresno St., 2nd floor, Fresno.
* May 21, Special Commission public hearing, Elihu Harris State Office Building, 1515 Clay St., Oakland.

* June 7, Special Commission public hearing, Santa Barbara Veteran's Memorial Building, 112 West Cabrillo Blvd., Santa Barbara.

* June 20 21, Commission meeting, Lakeland Village Beach and Mountain Resort, Lakeshore Room, 3535 Lake Tahoe Blvd., South Lake Tahoe.

* Aug. 1 2, Commission meeting, City Council Chambers, 990 Palm St., San Luis Obispo.

* Aug. 29 30, Commission meeting (adoption hearing), Elihu Harris State Office Building, 1515 Clay St., Oakland.

For additional information on California's nearshore fishery, logon to DFG's Web site at