March 21, 2023
Proposed File-and-Print Rulemaking Action: Conformance with Federal Commercial Groundfish Regulations in California State Waters
Under current regulations in Title 14, California Code of Regulations (CCR) Section 189, Commercial Groundfish Fishing, the Department incorporates federal regulations pertaining to the West Coast commercial groundfish fishery into state regulation and provides general definitions that apply to the West Coast groundfish fishery. Federal rules are specific to the fishery management zone off the three West Coast states, generally from 3 nautical miles to 200 nautical miles (i.e., Exclusive Economic Zone or EEZ); however, the commercial groundfish fishery operates in both state waters (shore to 3 nautical miles) and the EEZ.
Proposed amendments to Section 189 would clarify that federal regulations are incorporated into state regulations and are applicable in state waters. The language would also specify that it is unlawful to take and retain, possess or land any fish in violation of the federal regulations, including violations of regulations extended to apply in state waters as specified in this section. Additionally, the changes would update and modify general definitions for consistency with terms defined in federal regulations and in statute. An additional definition is proposed for inclusion, which would establish that conservation areas are enclosed geographic areas defined by coordinates expressed in degrees latitude and longitude where the National Marine Fisheries Service may prohibit fishing, or limit fishing to particular gear types.
The proposed amendments to Section 189, Title 14, CCR are intended to aid enforcement efforts and to provide clarity to the groundfish industry and the public. Updated state contact information to attain copies of federal groundfish regulations is also proposed for inclusion.
The Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (Department) may repeal or amend any regulation adopted pursuant to Fish and Game Code Section 7652 or any other regulation to conform the regulation to federal regulations pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (“Act,” 16 U.S.C. Sec. 1801 et seq.) if the Director finds that this action is necessary to achieve optimum yield in California. Title 2, Division 3, Part 1, Chapter 3.5 of the California Government Code - “Administrative Regulations and Rulemaking” does not apply to Section 7652.2 of the Fish and Game Code.
CDFW is seeking comments on the proposed amendments as required by Fish and Game Code Section 7652.2. Public input can be provided to CDFW on or prior to the public hearing scheduled for 2 p.m., Tuesday May 30, 2023. Comments can be provided by e-mail to: Groundfish@wildlife.ca.gov. Please specify ‘Commercial Groundfish Regulations’ in the subject line. Comments by physical mail can be sent to: Groundfish Project C/O Melissa Mandrup, Senior Environmental Scientist, Specialist, 3883 Ruffin Road, San Diego, CA 92123.