CDFW eliminates sub-bag limits for several species

Monterey Bay

Richard Do hoists another nice vermilion rockfish aboard the Kahuna from Moss Landing, while Kris Victorino engages in battle at the rail. This year, we are allowed to keep only five vermilion as a sub-bag limit..

by Allen Bushnell

Everyone is looking forward to season openers, just a couple weeks away. Rockfish season will open on April 1, 2021. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced multiple changes to the recreational groundfish regulations that will take effect in the 2021 season. According to the CDFW, these changes include, “elimination of sub-bag limits for black rockfish, canary rockfish and cabezon within the 10-fish Rockfish, Cabezon, Greenling (RCG) complex daily bag limit,” as well as “a new sub-bag limit of five vermilion rockfish within the 10-fish RCG complex daily bag limit.” Salmon season is set for April 3, but the final regulations are still to be determined.

CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Caroline McKnight explained some of the reasoning behind these changes, saying “The good news for 2021 is groundfish populations are rebounding. Of the eight stocks that were declared overfished in the early 2000s, all but one, yelloweye rockfish, has been declared rebuilt today.” McKnight seems to indicate the CDFW is, essentially, playing it safe with the new bag sub-limit for vermilion. “The implementation of a new five-fish sub-bag limit for vermilion rockfish within the 10-fish RCG complex daily bag limit may come as a surprise to some anglers. Recreational catch of vermilion rockfish has increased significantly in recent years, but stock status information is dated. While a new stock assessment for vermilion rockfish is planned for 2021, the results won’t be available for use in management until 2023. In the interim, the new five-fish vermilion rockfish sub-bag limit has been implemented as a precautionary measure to slow catches.” On a final note, she added, “Take and possession of bronzespotted rockfish, cowcod and yelloweye rockfish remain prohibited statewide.”

The Marine Protected Areas that limit or prohibit fishing in certain locations have been a source of frustration and confusion for many anglers since their inception. Boundaries for these areas typically are straight lines from GPS points with few, if any visual markers on the ocean surface. This year, the CDFW is implementing an interactive map for anglers that can utilize cellphone GPS to determine if the area we are in is part of the MPA network. The map is also able to provide fishing regulations info for that particular spot. While introducing the OceanSportfishMap, the DFW explains, “This interactive website (application) is designed with a focus on mobile phone use; it will also run (with limitations) on a variety of other platforms such as desktop computers. This application organizes the rules and regulations for many different target species and management areas, with map views that help anglers search for the specific authoritative information needed to legally target and take species of interest at different locations.


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