Commercial California Halibut Fishery

California halibut are the target of a robust statewide commercial fishery. The three principle gear types used in the fishery are hook-and-line, trawl, and set gill net. Once landed, halibut are sold as fresh fillets or in live condition for restaurants or fish markets. Most halibut are consumed domestically with very few going to export.

  • Commercial Landing Totals
    All commercially caught fish landed within the State must be accurately documented. The CDFW maintains basic catch records of amounts and values of the various marine resources taken by California's commercial fisheries.
  • Commercial Ocean Fishing
    Provides links to the current Commercial Fishing Digest, California Code of Regulations, Title 14, license information, and more.
  • link opens in new windowStriped Bass and Sturgeon may not be possessed onboard commercial vessels (PDF)
    Exercise careful consideration before commercially registering a vessel primarily used for sport fishing.
  • link opens in new windowCommercial Hook-and-Line: California Halibut (PDF)
    Provides a map of permissible hook-and-line gear based on fishing area, and a summary of other relevant regulatory information and gear definitions.
  • Fish Business Information
    The License and Revenue Branch provides excellent service to our customers by issuing licenses, permits, stamps and tags consistent with statutory and regulatory requirements, collecting revenue, and providing information to support the use and enjoyment of California's diverse natural resources and insure that they are available for future generations.
  • link opens in new windowReview of California Halibut Trawl Fishery in the California Halibut Trawl Grounds, Report to the California Fish and Game Commission (PDF)
    The California Halibut Trawl Grounds (CHTG), representing 201 square nautical miles, were created through legislation in 1971. In 2005, additional legislation was introduced to close four areas (13%) within the trawl grounds. This legislation also allowed for the implementation of additional closures (up to 42%) after March 31, 2008. In April 2008 the Commission adopted regulations which implemented an additional 34-square nautical mile closure in a portion of the CHTG between Gaviota and Point Conception. The remaining open areas now comprise about 75 percent of the original CHTG. The Commission may reverse the closures pending four performance criteria.

    The purpose of this report was to provide the Commission with the best information regarding the California halibut bottom trawl fishery within the CHTG to determine if the performance criteria were met.

Definition of Light Touch Trawl Gear for Use within the California Halibut Trawl Grounds, effective August 13, 2009

(Adopted by the Commission in May 2009 and approved by the Office of Administrative Law in June 2009, with an effective date of implementation August 13, 2009)

California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 124(b) Gears. Special gear requirements apply while trawling for California halibut in the California Halibut Trawl Grounds. Each trawl net, including trawl doors and footrope chain, shall meet the following requirements:

  • (1) Each trawl net shall have a headrope not exceeding 90 feet in length. The headrope is defined as a chain, rope, or wire attached to the trawl webbing forming the leading edge of the top panel of the trawl net. Headrope shall be measured from where it intersects the bridle on the left side of the net to where it intersects the bridle on the right side of the net.
  • (2) The thickness of the webbing of any portion of the trawl net shall not exceed 7 millimeters in diameter.
  • (3) Each trawl door shall not exceed 500 pounds in weight.
  • (4) Any chain attached to the footrope shall not exceed one quarter inch in diameter of the link material. The footrope is defined as a rope or wire attached to the trawl webbing forming the leading edge of the bottom panel of the trawl net.
  • (5) The trawl shall have no rollers or bobbins on any part of the net or footrope. Rollers or bobbins are devices made of wood, steel, rubber, plastic, or other hard material that encircle the trawl footrope. These devices are commonly used to either bounce or pivot over seabed obstructions, in order to prevent the trawl footrope and net from snagging on the seabed.

Halibut, CDFW photo by Sabrina Bell