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In-Season Ocean Fishing Regulation Changes

Cover of Sport Fishing Regulations Supplement- link to salmon sport fishing regulations
Cover of Saltwater Sport Fishing Regulations Booklet - link to ocean sport fishing regulations page

Commercial Digest 2018 cover

This page contains information about unscheduled, in-season regulation changes for recreational and commercial ocean fishing in 2018.

CDFW is required to notify the public of in-season regulation changes for groundfish at least 10 days before the new regulations becomes effective, via news release.

"The department shall give the public and the National Marine Fisheries Service no less than 10 days notice of any fishery closure or rule change implemented pursuant to this Section via a department news release." - Section 27.20(f) of Title 14, link opens in new windowCalifornia Code of Regulations

Further information may be obtained by calling your local CDFW office. You may also sign up for the Marine Region News Service to receive automatic notification of in-season regulation changes.


News Releases, Updates and Informational Notices

October 16, 2018

Commercial Spiny Lobster Fishery Closed in State Waters Around Anacapa Island Due to Public Health Hazard

September 17, 2018

Recreational Pacific Halibut Fishery Ends Friday, Sept. 21

August 15, 2018

Changes to Recreational Groundfish Regulations Effective Aug. 25

May 15, 2018

Fish and Game Commission Adopts Emergency Regulations to Increase Purple Sea Urchin Bag Limit in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties

April 20, 2018

Commercial Rock Crab Fishery Continues to be Extended Northward to Near the Mendocino/Humboldt County Line

April 10, 2018

Recreational Canary Rockfish Bag Limit Increases Effective April 14

March 29, 2018

Opening of Commercial Rock Crab Fishery Extended to Sonoma-Mendocino County Line

January 25, 2018

Commercial Spiny Lobster Fishery Closure Lifted Near Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands

January 16, 2018

Open Area of Commercial Rock Crab Fishery to be Extended to Salt Point, Sonoma County

January 10, 2018

Commercial Dungeness Crab Season to Open in Northern California


Summary of Regulation Changes

October 16, 2018

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham has closed the commercial spiny lobster fishery effective October 16, 2018 near Anacapa Island in Ventura County (link opens in new windowsee map). The commercial closure includes state waters around Santa Cruz and Anacapa islands east of 119°30.000’ W. longitude, and west of 119°10.000’ W. longitude. State waters extend three nautical miles beyond outermost islands, reefs and rocks. Commercial take and/or possession of spiny lobster is prohibited in closed waters. State health agencies determined that the lobster in this area have unhealthy levels of domoic acid and recommended closure of the commercial fishery in the area. The recreational fishery for spiny lobster remains open statewide with a warning from the California Department of Public Health to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera (tomalley) and roe (eggs) of spiny lobster.

September 17, 2018

The recreational Pacific halibut fishery will close statewide on September 22, 2018 for the 2018 season. The last day of the fishery will be September 21, 2018. Based on the latest catch projections, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife expects the 2018 California recreational quota of 30,940 pounds will have been taken by this date.

August 15, 2018

Effective on August 25, 2018, sport groundfish depth restrictions will change from the California-Oregon border south to Point Conception. Based on recent bycatch estimates for yelloweye rockfish from the California sport fishery, CDFW projects that the harvest guideline specified in federal regulation for 2018 (3.9 metric tons) will be exceeded unless changes are made. Effective August 25, 2018 the new depth limits will be:

  • Northern Management Area (Oregon/California state line to Cape Mendocino): Take is prohibited seaward of 20 fathoms (120 feet) in depth through Dec. 31. Note that in the months of November and December, allowable fishing depths in the Northern Management Area will remain at 20 fathoms, and will not extend to unlimited depths.
  • Mendocino Management Area (Cape Mendocino to Point Arena): Take is prohibited seaward of 20 fathoms (120 feet) in depth through Dec. 31. Note that in the months of November and December, allowable fishing depths in the Mendocino Management Area will remain at 20 fathoms, and will not extend to unlimited depths.
  • San Francisco Management Area (Point Arena to Pigeon Point): Take is prohibited seaward of the 30 fathom depth contour (180 feet) through Dec. 31.
  • Central Management Area (Pigeon Point to Point Conception): Take is prohibited seaward of the 40 fathom depth contour (240 feet) through Dec. 31.
  • Southern Management Area (Point Conception to the U.S./Mexico border): Take is prohibited seaward of the 60 fathom depth contour (360 feet) through Dec. 31. No changes are slated for this area.

May 15, 2018

From May 10, 2018 through Nov. 6, 2018, the recreational purple sea urchin daily bag limit is raised to 20 gallons, with no possession limit. Note that filling four five-gallon buckets is seen as an acceptable method of determining the 20-gallon bag limit. Beginning Nov. 7, 2018 the recreational daily bag and possession limit reverts back to 35 sea urchins per day and in possession, barring further action by the California Fish and Game Commission. Skin and scuba divers are reminded that urchins must be put to use (smashing and disposing of urchins in the trash is illegal), per laws prohibiting waste of fish and invertebrates including sea urchins.

April 20, 2018

Following the recommendation of state health agencies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife extended the area open to commercial rock crab fishing from near the Mendocino/Humboldt county line (40°00.00′ N. lat.) south to the California/Mexico border.

April 10, 2018

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife increased the canary rockfish (Sebastes pinniger) recreational sub-bag limit from one fish to two fish within the RCG daily bag limit of 10 fish effective April 14, 2018. Pursuant to California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 27.20(e), CDFW has the authority to make in-season modifications to the recreational fishery, including adjustments to bag and sub-bag limits.

March 29, 2018

Following the recommendation of state health agencies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife extended the area open to commercial rock crab fishing from the Sonoma/Mendocino County line (38° 46.1′ N. lat., near Gualala, Mendocino County) south to the California/Mexico border.

January 25, 2018

The October 24, 2017 commercial spiny lobster fishery closure area has been reopened effective January 25, 2018. State health agencies determined that consumption of spiny lobster taken from this area no longer poses a significant threat for domoic acid exposure. The recreational fishery for spiny lobster remains open statewide, and the link opens in new windowwarning from the California Department of Public Health regarding avoid consuming the viscera (internal organs, or tomalley) of spiny lobster from the commercial fishery's closed areas has been lifted.

January 16, 2018

Following the recommendation of state health agencies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife extended the area open to commercial rock crab fishing from Salt Point, Sonoma County south to the California/Mexico border.

January 10, 2018

The northern California Dungeness crab fishery in Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties is set to open at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, January 15.



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