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Feature Article: Rockfishing Regs

Rockfishing changes bring maximum depth back to 30 fathoms

Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Sep 21, 2017

BOISE, Idaho — At deadline on Monday, a Groundfish Advisory Subpanel of the Pacific Fishery Management Council determined to revert groundfish regulations to those in 2016, bringing the maximum fishing depth for groundfish back to 30 fathoms for the rest of the 2017 season.

“Working from the GMT Supplemental in-season report Table 4 the GAP supports CA Alternative 2, which has the recreational bottomfish season from Point Conception to the Oregon border revert to 2016 depths through Dec. 31, to be implemented as soon as is practicable.”

The Groundfish Advisory Subpanel Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting was regarding included “consideration of in-season adjustments” on rockfish seasons, limits and closures, including a possible closure of all nearshore recreational rockfishing in certain areas.

At issue was a “higher than normal mortality for yelloweye rockfish this year,” and the catch rate is expected to exceed the allowable harvest limits.

According to the advisory, “Yelloweye rockfish (YE) impacts in 2017 have exceeded the harvest guideline (HG) analysis projections. Without additional yelloweye, the California recreational season may be closed or restricted in all areas north of Point Conception for the remainder 2017. However, by shifting of some yelloweye within the overfished groundfish scorecard, the California recreational fishery could potentially maintain a status quo season north of Point Conception.”

Rather than close the rockfishing season, the PFMC panel opted for the Groundfish Advisory Subpanel option to revert to 2016 fishing regulations and depths, which should result in fewer yelloweye rockfish being killed and keep the season open through the rest of the year.

Economic impacts of a rockfish closure would be huge, and an early season closure in 2007 resulted in the loss of 54,000 angler trips in Northern California with an estimated economic loss of over 6 million dollars to the local ports.

The fault, here, actually lies with those anglers who failed to follow the guidelines to release any yellow-eyed rockfish and actually brought them back to port, where DFW fish counters tallied surprisingly high counts of the protected fish.

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