California Halibut Scaled Management Process

In 2019, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) assessed the state’s fisheries under The 2018 Master Plan for Fisheries (PDF)(opens in new tab) framework. A prioritization process identified California halibut (Paralichthys californicus) as a species in need of management attention due to potential risks to bycatch species (including sub legal-sized California halibut) and from a changing climate.

CDFW is committed to partnering with the stakeholder community to make informed decisions about the management of the California halibut fishery to support a healthy species, ecosystem, and fishing community.

In late summer, 2021, CDFW invited stakeholders of the California halibut fishery to a two-part webinar series to learn about and discuss California halibut. The first webinar on August 12 was focused on the recreational sector, and the second webinar on September 16 was focused on the commercial sector. The goal of these webinars was to engage in a discussion with the fishing industry and other interested stakeholders to explore CDFW and stakeholder’s shared priorities and concerns for the long-term sustainability of the species, ecosystem, and fishing community. These webinars also provided the opportunity to share information about how stakeholders can stay informed and engaged in CDFW’s management process for California halibut, and understand next steps in designing a science-based, stakeholder-involved management process.

Exploring Scaled Management for the California Halibut Fishery
Two-Part Public Webinar Series

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California Halibut Stock Assessment

A primary goal of fishery management under the Marine Life Management Act (MLMA) is to ensure that fishing levels are sustainable and do not result in an overfished stock. To determine where a fishery is relative to this goal, managers develop stock assessments that establish the current and historical status of the fishery resource. Stock assessments utilize all available data, which most commonly includes catch, abundance indices, and biological data specific to the species. Stock assessments are highly informative management tools used to assess the abundance of fish populations, determine the level at which a resource may be sustainably exploited, and sometimes to predict the potential consequences of policy decisions.

In 2011, with funding from CDFW, the first statewide stock assessment of California halibut was completed. Performed by an external expert, the results were independently peer reviewed prior to release. The assessment examined two stocks of California halibut, with the boundary between stocks at Point Conception.

In 2020, CDFW completed an update to the 2011 stock assessment, drawing on the prior modelling approach and considering recent data as well as recommendations from the prior review process.

Facilitated by Ocean Science Trust (OST), an independent scientific peer review of the updated 2020 California halibut stock assessment was completed by a panel of experts. The review focused on whether the technical components, models, and analysis that underpin the stock assessment were applied in a manner that is scientifically sound, reasonable, and appropriate.

On October 28, 2020, CDFW and OST hosted a public informational webinar to share the key findings of the California halibut stock assessment and peer review process. During the webinar, participants were introduced to the California halibut stock assessment, an important tool in fishery management, and an overview of key findings from the scientific and technical peer-review panel that evaluated the stock assessment. Participants also learned about the processes CDFW and its partners use to collect and analyze data for the stock assessment. The agenda, presentation slides, recording, and key themes summary of the webinar are posted on the California Ocean Science Trust website(opens in new tab).