Link to Department of Fish and Wildlife
CDFW and Salmon Industry Representatives Restrict 2015 Ocean Fisheries to Protect Sacramento River Winter-Run Chinook
Commercial salmon fisheries off most of California will open May 1, though seasons for both commercial and sport fisheries will be shorter in several areas this year.
The California Department of Wildlife (CDFW) and state fishing industry representatives of the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) worked together to recommend additional actions to protect endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook, which have been impacted by California’s severe drought.
“We needed to do more than what the bare minimum of the law required,” said Marci Yaremko, CDFW’s representative to the PFMC. “Methods used to forecast salmon stock abundance or run sizes don’t yet incorporate many of the environmental variables or other data streams we believe are indicative of poor salmon survival.”
The sport and commercial fishing seasons approved by the PFMC are expected to reduce impacts to winter-run Chinook to 17.5 percent, less than the maximum allowable impact rate of 19 percent prescribed by the National Marine Fisheries Service, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act. In recent years, federal guidance aimed at protecting winter-run Chinook from ocean fisheries has come largely in the form of this allowable rate cap. The rate limits the incidental harvest of winter-run Chinook, which co-occur in the ocean with other healthy salmon runs that fishermen are looking to target.
“Looking at the rate cap alone did not seem to be enough,” Yaremko said.
Earlier this year, CDFW scientists and managers examined data from dockside and at-sea fishery sampling programs to look for trends, with the goal of designing fishing seasons to avoid times and areas where contact with winter-run Chinook is most likely. During their time in the ocean, winter-run Chinook appear to be concentrated south of Pigeon Point, especially south of Point Sur, during the late summer and early fall. These analyses prompted CDFW to recommend shortened fishing seasons and size limit restrictions in some high-risk times and areas to the PFMC, in order to minimize the chance of harvesting adult winter-run Chinook. The measures also are expected to reduce catch-and-release mortality of sub-adult fish, which become susceptible to fisheries in the fall.
“Throughout this process we have been concerned about the impacts of the drought, and in particular the effects the drought is having on our salmon stocks,” said Dan Wolford, President of the Coastside Fishing Club and the PFMC member representing California recreational fishing interests. “With the loss of the 2014 winter-run brood year it was apparent that we had to take extraordinary measures to help recover these fish.”
Commercial salmon trollers were also in support of reducing fishery impacts and were “prepared to follow CDFW’s recommendation of a maximum 17.9 percent impact rate for this year,” as stated by Dave Bitts, California commercial representative on the PFMC’s Salmon Advisory Subpanel and President of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations.
From Pigeon Point to Point Sur, the commercial season opens May 1 and runs through Aug. 15, which reduces fishing opportunity by approximately six weeks in August and September. From Point Sur to the U.S.-Mexico Border, the season is open May 1 through July 31, a reduction of almost nine weeks in August and September.
In the sport fishery from Pigeon Point to Point Sur, the season runs through Sept. 7, reducing fishing opportunity by approximately four weeks in September and October, while from Point Sur to the U.S.-Mexico Border, the sport fishery runs through July 19, reducing the season by approximately 11 weeks between July and October. The San Francisco (Point Arena to Pigeon Point) sport fishery closes at the end of October, reducing fishing opportunity by eight days in November in that area.
For complete ocean salmon regulations, please visit CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/oceansalmon.asp or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429
New Recreational Pacific Halibut Regulations in Effect for 2015
The recreational Pacific halibut fishery will open May 1 for the 2015 season. This year the fishery will be held to a federally established quota of 25,220 pounds. The season dates will be May 1-15, June 1-15, July 1-15, Aug. 1-15, and Sept. 1-Oct. 31, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier.
“California’s recreational quota was the result of hard work with the industry and other states,” said Marci Yaremko, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) representative to the Pacific Fishery Management Council. “We are committed to ensuring this year’s catch does not exceed that number.”
To be consistent with international and federal gear restrictions already in place, state regulations now limit anglers to one rod and no more than two hooks per person to take Pacific halibut. New state regulations will allow the use of a harpoon, gaff or net to assist in taking a Pacific halibut that has been legally caught by angling.
The season dates were determined through a collaborative effort between CDFW staff and stakeholders to provide as much fishing opportunity as possible between May and October. The open and closed periods are intended to spread the fishing activity from spring through fall.
Again this year, field staff will be stationed at public launch ramps and charter boat landings to monitor catches of Pacific halibut along with other marine sportfish. CDFW will examine this information in comparison to expected catch rates and confer with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on a weekly basis. If the cumulative catch is expected to reach or exceed the quota prior to Oct. 31, NMFS will close the fishery.
The public can follow the progress of catch through the season by viewing the new Pacific halibut thermometer, http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/pacifichalibut.asp, which will be updated weekly with the latest catch projection information.
Before engaging in any fishing activity for Pacific halibut, please check one of the following resources for the most up-to-date regulations:
National Marine Fishery Service Halibut Hotline, (800) 662-9825
CDFW Recreational Groundfish Regulations Hotline, (831) 649-2801
CDFW website, http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/pacifichalibut.asp
Deb Wilson-Vandenberg, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 649-2892
Carrie Wilson, CDFW Communications, (831) 649-7191
New Recreational Groundfish Regulations Now in Effect
March 11, 2015 kmacinty
Black and yellow groundfish
The California Fish and Game Commission adopted several changes to the current recreational groundfish regulations that apply to ocean fishing in state waters up to three miles from shore. The new regulations were adopted by the Commission at its Feb. 11 meeting, and became effective March 10.
The open season dates and allowable fishing depths for the recreational Groundfish Management Areas are as follows:
Northern – Open May 15 through Oct. 31, in 20 fathoms (120 feet) or less
Mendocino – Open May 15 through Oct. 31, in 20 fathoms (120 feet) or less
San Francisco – Open April 15 through Dec. 31, in 30 fathoms (180 feet) or less
Central – Open April 1 through Dec. 31, in 40 fathoms (240 feet) or less
Southern – Open March 1 through Dec. 31, in 60 fathoms (360 feet) or less
Staff from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) worked closely with recreational stakeholders to develop the regulations prior to submission to and approval by the Commission. “The changes are designed to allow as much fishing opportunity as possible while remaining within allowable catch limits,” said Marci Yaremko, CDFW’s State/Federal Fisheries Program Manager. “However, as we do each year, we will be closely monitoring catches up and down the state during the open season to ensure we don’t exceed any limits.”
Other changes include:
An increase in the lingcod bag limit from two to three fish
A sub-bag limit of five black rockfish within the 10-fish Rockfish, Cabezon, Greenling (RCG) complex bag limit
Statewide closure of the California scorpionfish fishery from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31
Take and possession of bronzespotted rockfish, canary rockfish, cowcod and yelloweye rockfish will remain prohibited statewide.
For more information about recreational groundfish regulations and to stay informed of in-season changes, please call the Recreational Groundfish Hotline at (831) 649-2801 or check CDFW’s Marine Region Groundfish Central website at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/groundfishcentral/index.asp.
Whirling Disease Detection Triggers Quarantine at Two California Trout Hatcheries
JUNE 4, 2015
The detection of a disease-causing parasite has led the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to quarantine infected trout at two northern California hatcheries.
During routine hatchery and fish health checks, CDFW fisheries pathologists found that captive-raised fish at the Darrah Springs Trout Hatchery (located in the Battle Creek watershed east of Redding) tested positive for whirling disease. Prior to the discovery, trout were transferred from an infected raceway at Darrah Springs to Mt. Shasta Hatchery. While fish transferred to Mt. Shasta Hatchery from Darrah Springs Hatchery tested positive for the parasite, it is yet unknown if biological and environmental conditions allowed it to complete its lifecycle at that location. Approximately three million rainbow and brown trout at both hatcheries are now under quarantine and will undergo testing.
Whirling disease is caused by Myxobolus cerebralis, a protozoan parasite that destroys cartilage in the vertebral column of trout and salmon. It can be fatal to infected trout and salmon but does not affect humans or other wildlife or fish. Trout and salmon that test positive for the disease are still safe for human consumption. Although the infected hatchery fish cannot be released into California’s waterways, they can and will be euthanized in a manner that allows for usage as food fish. CDFW is currently working with local food banks to arrange donation, and a previously scheduled children’s fishing event at the Mt. Shasta Hatchery this weekend will be held as planned.
The whirling disease parasite is naturally present in some streams and rivers in California. Hatchery outbreaks are unusual but not unheard of (there have been none in northern California for two decades). The disposal of infected hatchery-raised trout is a necessary precaution to prevent the spread of disease to non-infected state waters where the fish would normally be planted.
“This is a bitter pill to swallow,” said Stafford Lehr, CDFW Fisheries Branch Chief. “We have raised and nurtured these trout to provide fishing opportunity. It’s heartbreaking. We are committed to take whatever steps necessary to eradicate this disease and bring these hatcheries back online.”
The parasite is believed to have entered Darrah Springs Hatchery via the water source supplying a portion of that hatchery. Some species of fish-eating birds can transmit the parasite and river otters can carry it on their fur from one water to another. The possibility that the parasite was transferred to the hatchery from local nearby waters known to have whirling disease is likely, due to current drought conditions that cause wildlife to move to available water sources.
Until testing is complete the exact number of fish exposed to and infected with the disease is unknown. Once the infected fish are euthanized, the latest scientific techniques will be used to cleanse the impacted areas of the hatcheries, confirm the impacted water sources are whirling disease-free and bring the facilities back to production status as soon as possible.
CDFW pathologists routinely inspect each of the 13 state-run trout hatcheries which raise approximately 10 million trout for California anglers statewide, and nine salmon hatcheries that raise over 31 million young salmon and steelhead.
For more information on whirling disease, please visit http://whirlingdisease.montana.edu.
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169
Dr. William Cox, CDFW Hatchery Program Manager, (916) 358-2827
Link to MPAs news.
Looking for the latest on Salmon Season? Click here.
Here’s the link to the 2015 Ocean Sportfishing regulations.
And a link to what’s open or closed on the Mendo Coast.