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In-Season Ocean Fishing Regulation Changes

Commercial Digest 2019 cover - link opens in new window

This page contains information about unscheduled, in-season regulation changes for recreational and commercial ocean fishing in late 2018 and 2019.

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

April 4, 2019

New California Sheephead Fillet-at-Sea Regulation Now in Effect

April 3, 2019

Commercial Dungeness Crab Season to Close Statewide April 15

March 26, 2019

Entanglement Settlement Protects Whales, Sea Turtles, and California's Crab Fishery

January 25, 2019

New Recreational Groundfish Regulations Now in Effect

January 18, 2019

Recreational and Commercial Dungeness Crab Fisheries to Open in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties

December 21, 2018

Northern California Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Delay Extended

December 13, 2018

California Fish and Game Commission Meets in Oceanside

December 7, 2018

Crab Quality Delays 2018-19 Northern California Commercial Dungeness Crab Season to Dec. 31

December 3, 2018

Commercial Dungeness Crab Season to Open in Sonoma County

November 20, 2018

Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Delayed in Northern California

November 16, 2018

Commercial Spiny Lobster Fishery Closure Lifted in State Waters Around Anacapa Island

November 9, 2018

Southern Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Delayed North of Bodega Head Due to Public Health Hazard

October 25, 2018

Recreational Dungeness Crab Fishery Delayed in Northern Humboldt and Del Norte Counties Due to Public Health Hazard

October 16, 2018

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


Summary of Regulation Changes

April 4, 2019

California Sheephead may now be filleted at sea, but the fillets must measure at least 6¾ inches in length and must bear the entire skin intact. The change in California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 27.65(b), which went into effect April 1, 2019, allows legal-sized California Sheephead to be filleted on board vessels while at sea and brought ashore as fillets.

April 3, 2019

The commercial Dungeness crab fishery will close at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, April 15, 2019. All Dungeness crab commercial fishing gear must be removed from ocean waters and landings must be completed by April 15, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham issued a declaration to close the commercial Dungeness crab fishery statewide due to increased whale entanglement risk anticipated for the spring and summer months.

March 26, 2019

A lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity against CDFW (the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations intervened as well) in federal court in San Francisco has been settled. link opens in new windowThe settlement creates a comprehensive approach to the problem of whale entanglement in commercial trap fishing gear. It expedites state regulation, ensures stakeholder input from the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group and formalizes a first-ever commitment by CDFW to pursue a federal permit for protecting endangered species. While these steps are executed, the settlement calls for this year’s commercial Dungeness crab season to end three months early and prescribes protective measures for future springtime fishing seasons, when the greatest number of whales are present off the California coast.

January 25, 2019

The California Fish and Game Commission approved changes to recreational groundfish regulations on December 12, 2018 to conform to changes in federal rules for 2019 and 2020. The changes went into effect on January 2, 2019. Changes included new season dates and fishing depths in some groundfish management areas, a canary rockfish sub-bag limit increase to 2 fish within the RCG Complex bag limit of 10 fish, a lingcod bag limit decrease from 2 fish to 1 fish in areas south of 40°10' N latitude (near Cape Mendocino in northern California), and a return to a year-round fishery for California scorpionfish in the Southern Groundfish Management Area.

January 18, 2019

The CDFW Director has reopened the recreational and commercial Dungeness crab fisheries from Patrick’s Point, Humboldt County north to the California/Oregon state line. The area from the Patrick’s Point, Humboldt County (41° 8.00’ N. Latitude) north to the California/Oregon state line was closed due to elevated levels of domoic acid. Public health agencies have determined that domoic acid no longer poses a significant risk to public health in this area. The recreational Dungeness crab fishery is now open in this area as well.

December 21, 2018

The commercial Dungeness crab season has been delayed again, and will not open north of the Sonoma-Mendocino county line until 12:01 a.m. on January 15, 2019 at the earliest, due to continued poor crab quality. Two areas in northern California continue to be sampled for domoic acid and it is unknown whether any further delays may occur based on domoic acid test results.

December 13, 2018

At its December 2018 meeting in Oceanside, the California Fish and Game Commission took action on a number of ocean fishery issues. These included extending the closure of the recreational red abalone fishery until April 1, 2021; establishing an experimental fishery for brown box crab, and conforming state groundfish regulations with recently adopted federal regulations.

December 7, 2018

The commercial Dungeness crab season has been delayed, and will not open north of the Sonoma-Mendocino county line until 12:01 a.m. on December 31, 2018 at the earliest. The need for an additional delay was established following another round of poor crab quality test results. Further testing will occur by December 21, 2018 to determine whether an additional and final delay of 15 days is warranted.

December 3, 2018

The commercial Dungeness crab season will open north of Bodega Head to the Mendocino County line at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, December 8, 2018 per a declaration issued by CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. The opener will be preceded by a 18-hour gear setting period. Dungeness crab in the November 9, 2018 closure area no longer contain dangerous levels of domoic acid, according to public health agencies, and no longer pose a significant risk to public health.

November 20, 2018

The commercial Dungeness crab season has been delayed, and will not open north of the Sonoma-Mendocino county line until 12:01 a.m. on December 15, 2018 at the earliest. The need for a delay was established following the discovery of poor crab quality (low ratio of meat to total crab weight). Further testing will determine whether an additional delay of 15 days is warranted.

November 16, 2018

The October 16, 2018 California spiny lobster commercial fishery closure near Anacapa Island in Ventura County has been lifted. State health agencies determined that the lobster in this area no longer have unhealthy levels of domoic acid and recommended opening the commercial fishery in the area. The California Department of Public Health has also lifted its recreational angler advisory to avoid consuming the viscera (tomalley) and roe (eggs) of spiny lobster.

November 9, 2018

State health agencies determined that Dungeness crab in state waters from Bodega Head, Sonoma County north to the Sonoma/Mendocino county line have elevated levels of domoic acid and recommended a delay of the commercial fishery in this area. The commercial delay includes ocean waters from the southern boundary of Bodega Head State Marine Reserve, Sonoma County (38° 18’ N. latitude) north to the Sonoma/Mendocino county line (38° 46.125’ N. latitude). Commercial take and/or possession of Dungeness crab is prohibited in these waters. North of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line, the Dungeness crab commercial season is not scheduled to open until Dec. 1. That opener is also subject to delay pending test results both for domoic acid as well as crab quality. The domoic acid closure will remain in effect until state health agencies determine that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommend the area be opened.

October 25, 2018

In an area that extends from Patrick's Point, Humboldt County (41° 8.00' N latitude) north to the California/Oregon state line, state health agencies determined that both the meat and viscera from Dungeness crab contain unhealthy levels of domoic acid, and have recommended a closure of the recreational fishery in this area. Other areas of the coast will open as scheduled. The closure will remain in effect until state health agencies determine that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommend the area be opened.

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.



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