Marine Management News: September 2001

List of Articles


Draft Nearshore Fishery Management Plan Available for Review and Comment

by Nearshore Fishery Management Plan Staff

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is pleased to announce the availability of the draft Nearshore Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for public review and comment. During the past year, DFG staff drew from the advice and assistance of fishery participants, divers, scientists, conservationists, and other interested constituents to develop the Nearshore FMP for 19 species of nearshore finfish.

Under the Marine Life Management Act, the Fish and Game Commission must adopt an FMP for the nearshore fishery by January 1, 2002. Once a plan is adopted, it will guide the management of recreational and commercial harvest of these 19 nearshore species. With help from the public, the plan will foster sustainable and diverse uses of nearshore finfish populations.

Everyone interested in the future of nearshore finfish is encouraged to voice their opinions on the draft Nearshore FMP during the public comment period from August 23 through October 5. Six public meetings will be held throughout the state during September to provide everyone an opportunity to comment on the plan. These public meetings are in addition to the regularly scheduled Commission meetings. Written comments can be sent to the Commission during the public review process.

The draft Nearshore FMP can be reviewed at more than 80 locations: county libraries, marine and harbor offices, Sea Grant offices, DFG offices and on the DFG website at

Contents of the Draft Nearshore FMP

The draft Nearshore FMP provides a series of alternatives for managing the fishery. The Commission may select any of the alternatives, modify them or request new alternatives. The alternatives selected by the Commission will determine policy issues such as:

  • Harvest Control Rules - How to limit the catch.
  • Regional Management - Whether to manage the fishery on a regional basis.
  • Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) - How to integrate MPAs with the management of the nearshore fishery.
  • Allocation - How to share the resource among competing users.
  • Restricted Access - How to reduce excess fishing capacity.

In addition to providing alternatives for managing the nearshore fishery, the draft Nearshore FMP summarizes biological, ecological and general information about the fishery. The plan identifies gaps in critical information necessary for successful management, and offers a strategy for gathering that information. The plan includes an evaluation of the impacts of the management alternatives on all marine resources, individuals, and local communities. The draft Nearshore FMP estimates the cost of enforcement, management, and research. The plan also describes the process for adapting management approaches as the result of new information or changes in the fishery.

Commission Seeks Comments By October 5

The DFG presented the draft Nearshore FMP to the Commission at their August 23 meeting in Santa Barbara. While the Commission reviews the draft, they welcome comments and feedback from the public on the proposed alternatives for managing the nearshore fishery.

The DFG and the Commission will host a series of public meetings in September to receive public comments specifically on the draft Nearshore FMP. In addition, the Commission will also take public comments at its meeting on October 5th in San Diego.

To Provide Written Comments:

You may send written comments by letter, fax, or e-mail to the Commission. Comments received by September 26 will be read by the Commission members prior to the October 5 Commission meeting. Written comments received after September 26 will be submitted to the Commission at the meeting on October 5 in San Diego. Furthermore, written comments received after October 5 will be considered by the Commission during the evaluation of the revised draft Nearshore FMP. All written comments must include the author's name and mailing address and may be sent to:

California Fish and Game Commission
Draft Nearshore FMP
20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Suite 100
Monterey, CA 93940
Fax: (831) 649-2917

Timeline for Adopting the Nearshore Fishery Management Plan

  • October 5: Commission meeting in San Diego. The Commission will advise DFG on how the draft Nearshore FMP should be revised before the Commission considers it for adoption.
  • October 6-31: DFG will revise the draft Nearshore FMP. The revision will be based on public comments received up to and during the Commission meeting on October 5, the Commission's guidance at that meeting, and comments from a scientific panel reviewing the draft.
  • November 1-2: The revised draft Nearshore FMP will be released for public review. The Commission will accept public comments on the revised plan during November and at the December 7 Commission meeting.
  • December 7: Commission meeting in Long Beach. The public may provide oral comments on the revised draft Nearshore FMP. The Commission is expected to adopt the plan at this meeting.

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Governor Gray Davis Declares September 15, 2001 as Official Rob Collin's Day

by Chamois Andersen
Information Officer

Gov. Gray Davis has proclaimed September 15, 2001, "Robson A. Collins Day" in recognition of the marine biologist's 36 years of dedication to California's marine resources.

"Mr. Collins' invaluable contributions to the Golden State have made a positive and lasting impact," Davis said in the proclamation.

Collins began his career with DFG as a Junior Aquatic Biologist. Today, Collins is the Central California Manager and Nearshore Ecosystem Coordinator for the Marine Region and is responsible for guiding the development of the state's Nearshore Fishery Management Plan for marine finfish species.

On September 15, 2001, friends and family will celebrate Collins' retirement from DFG.

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Introducing Marija Vojkovich, Marine Region's New Southern California Manager and Offshore Ecosystem Coordinator

by Paul Gregory
Associate Marine Biologist

Patty Wolf, Marine Region Manager, is pleased to announce the promotion of Marija Vojkovich to the Marine Region's Southern California Manager and Offshore Ecosystem Coordinator. In her new capacity, Vojkovich will lead the southern California Marine Region staff and be responsible for the management of the offshore ecosystem using self-directed work teams. Vojkovich will continue to work out of the Santa Barbara DFG office and will advise Wolf on all offshore matters. She will also be a representative of DFG, along with Mr. LB Boydstun, to the Pacific Fisheries Management Council.

Marija Vojkovich has long been recognized as a valued team leader and will continue her involvement with the Constituent Involvement Team to improve communication practices within the Region. Congratulations Marija!

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Director, Robert C. Hight Recognizes MLMA Milestones

Almost three years ago, the Legislature made dramatic changes in California's management of marine resources with the passage of the Marine Life Management Act (MLMA). It charted a new course, set high standards for effective marine management, and established several new mandates for the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and the Fish and Game Commission. At the August Commission meetings, DFG delivered first draft fishery management plans and major reports called for by the MLMA - the White Seabass Plan, the Nearshore Plan, the Status of the Fisheries Report, and the Master Plan. These are significant steps in implementing the MLMA and greatly enhance our ability to provide sustainable resources and fisheries for California's future. We would not have been able to achieve these tremendous accomplishments without the commitment and involvement of our constituents, a truly dedicated Marine Region staff, and support from the Legislature.

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Series of Workshops Held to Gather Public Comments for the Marine Life Protection Act

by Paul Reilly
Senior Marine Biologist

A series of 10 Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) workshops were held in July, from Eureka to San Diego. These workshops were planned to gather public comments, as part of an informal public process, on a set of "Initial Draft Concepts" for proposed marine protected areas (MPAs) in California ocean waters.

There was an unprecedented turnout for these Department of Fish and Game (DFG) workshops - with over 2500 people attending at least one workshop. One reason for the high turnout was the great interest in the number and size of proposed MPAs in the Initial Draft Concepts. The following is a summary of the most frequently heard comments:

  • There were significant concerns with the potential socio-economic impacts of the Initial Draft Concepts with many people stating the proposed MPAs would put them out of business.
  • The majority of workshop participants were either against MPAs in general or had concerns with the number and size of the proposed MPAs.
  • Many participants felt there was inadequate science to justify the recommendations for new or expanded MPAs.
  • Many observed that there were no user-groups represented on the Planning Team.
  • Participants were often confused about the process and were not aware that the proposals are not final.
  • There was confusion about where this whole process started, and where and when it will end.
  • Some felt that the specific language requiring an "improved" marine life reserve component did not mean that more MPAs had to be created.
  • There was widespread concern that the proposed MPAs near ports (i.e. within 10 miles) would unfairly impact access to small boat or non-boat users and would pose safety risks.
  • There was concern that areas outside MPAs would receive too much fishing effort and impact those open areas negatively.
  • Many felt that more MPAs were not necessary due to the increasingly restrictive regulations that have been imposed in the last few years.
  • People wanted to know specifically what would need to be protected within the proposed MPAs.
  • Many expressed concern that the timetable is much too short for this process.
  • Many feared that new MPAs would restrict non-extractive activities, access, anchoring, or transiting through areas.

Hundreds of useful suggestions for site-specific modifications or alternatives were also offered by workshop attendees.

DFG is adding more staff to the Planning Team. These staff members will primarily be involved with conducting small meetings with constituent representatives to discuss alternatives to the Initial Draft Concepts, and reading the hundreds of comments received to date by letter, fax, and e-mail. It is likely that more time will be added to the MLPA process. For this reason the next set of public workshops will take place sometime this winter. Participants who attended the first meeting will be placed on MLPA DFG mailing lists. If you're not on the list and would like to be, please sign up.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Marine Life Protection Act

by Carrie Wilson
Associate Marine Biologist

Question: Why is DFG looking at closing areas to fishing? Why not stick with seasons, bag limits, and size limits?

Answer: The MLPA requires habitat protection and ecosystem protection as well as integrating existing and proposed MPAs into fisheries management. It also requires some total no-take reserves in each region. These areas will allow for the ecosystem to function in some areas without any fishing, providing insurance for management uncertainty as well as possible fisheries benefits.

Question: How do we know that MPAs are really protecting and enhancing the resources? Why are we counting on these closures to protect these species rather than just targeting the specific species that we want to protect?

Answer: MPAs will be a part of fisheries management along with more traditional measures and species-specific regulations. The concept of MPAs, however, goes beyond single species management. By protecting habitats and whole ecosystems, each species within an area will be more likely to grow and reproduce naturally.

Question: Since some species are doing fine, can any of these areas allow some fishing?

Answer: Yes. The State Marine Reserve classification is the only one that restricts all fishing. The State Marine Parks can allow some or all recreational fishing. State Marine Conservation Areas can allow both recreational and commercial fishing. These other classifications are one way to limit impacts to fishermen.

Question: Will I be able to anchor, dive, surf, and swim in reserves?

Answer: Yes. While access can be restricted in these areas, the DFG is not recommending this. All non-consumptive activities would be allowed in all of the three classifications listed above.

Question: How are you deciding which areas should be set aside as protected areas? How do you know that establishing protected areas will indeed effectively help our marine resources?

Answer: Nothing has been decided yet. Your input will be very valuable in making the decisions on which areas to close or leave open. Studies of Marine Protected Areas around the world have been conducted to determine their effectiveness to increase fish stocks within, near, and far from their borders. Much of this research is very new, and more information is being developed continuously. Fully protected marine reserves have been shown to increase biomass, biodiversity, individual size, and abundance of various species. These studies include reserves in California with good examples at La Jolla Cove, Anacapa Island, Big Creek (near Big Sur), Pt. Lobos, and others.

Question: Why aren't there any fishermen on the Planning Team? Doesn't the Act say you must consult with others?

Answer: The act specifies that the Planning Team must be made up of natural resource agency representatives and scientists. It also requires consultation with fishermen and other interested parties such as through the siting workshops. In addition, in April DFG mailed letters to more than 7,000 commercial fishermen, recreational divers, and skiff and shore anglers seeking initial public input on fishing activities along the coast. Small group discussions were also held to get input on general concerns about MPAs. Now that we have a Draft Concept for MPAs more workshops, conversations, small group meetings, and other contacts, the public can better provide input on the initial draft concepts and maps.

Question: When can we expect this plan to be completed and adopted?

Answer: The draft plan is due to the Fish and Game Commission January 1, 2002. The public review period must include at least three public meetings. The final plan is due to the Fish and Game Commission April 1, 2002 and must be adopted by July 1, 2002. This timeline, however, is likely to change. A bill, supported by the Department, is asking for a 12 month extension of this timeline. This extension will allow even more time for the public to review the plan and for the Department to make any modifications.

Note: An expanded version of these FAQ's appeared in the "DFG Q&A" column in the August 3, 2001 issue of "Western Outdoor News."

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New DFG Marine Patrol Boat Slated for San Francisco

by Chamois Andersen
Information Officer

Each day, the California Department of Fish and Game's (DFG) marine patrol proudly lives up to its motto, "Make a Difference."

To maintain this creed, DFG is increasing its presence on the ocean with five new patrol boats slated for California's waters.

The Patrol Boat Marlin is joining DFG's fleet this month and will patrol the waters off San Francisco. A dedication event for the Marlin will be scheduled in Berkeley.

These catamaran-like vessels are capable of reaching speeds of 38-knots. Each one is state-of-the-art and equipped with integrated electronics that allow for precise navigation in any weather. The new boats also have a patrol skiff, dive gear, and other equipment used to crackdown on illegal fishing activities.

The Patrol Boat Thresher was the first one to come on-line and is based out of Dana Point in Orange County. The Patrol Boat Swordfish is currently under construction and will be based out of Ventura. Two additional boats will join the DFG fleet next year, the Coho in Morro Bay and the Steelhead in Eureka.

The DFG will utilize these high-powered boats to patrol fishing activities along the state's 1,100 miles of coast. The DFG officers must board and inspect all commercial vessels that they encounter as well as routinely check fishing licenses and marine fishes caught by anglers on small crafts and party boats.

With more boats patrolling California's waters, officers will be able to keep a watchful eye out for illegal fishing activities, making a difference in conserving the marine resources of the state.

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by Ed Roberts
Marine Biologist

This is the second of three articles appearing in Marine Management News. It provides biological information and characteristics of the species selected for management under the Nearshore Fishery Management Plan (FMP), as well as an insight on the importance of each species to recreational and commercial fisheries. In this issue we focus on seven species of nearshore rockfishes included in the FMP. Selected Fishes of the California Nearshore Fishery Management Plan Information Chart

Information Chart (PDF)
This information was compiled by Paul Reilly, Dave Osorio, Dave Ono and Colleena Perez.

Species Descriptions

Black-and-yellow rockfish are a significant portion of the commercial catch in central California, in particular the live-fish fishery. In 1999, black-and-yellow rockfish ranked fourth in the Morro Bay area, making up 11 percent of the total catch by weight. In the Monterey Bay area, they comprised 8 percent of the commercial nearshore fishery for 1999. They are a minor component of the Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels (CPFVs) and private vessel recreational fishery. Black-and-yellow rockfish look very similar to the gopher rockfish.

Calico rockfish are not a target species, they are caught incidentally when targeting other fish. Calico rockfish are included under the management of the Nearshore FMP to facilitate transfer of management from the Pacific Fishery Management Council to DFG.

China rockfish are a valuable part of the commercial nearshore fishery. China rockfish are of moderate importance to recreational fishermen, being taken by private and CPFVs, divers and rocky shore anglers.

Copper rockfish are taken in the nearshore commercial fishery. They are also of significant importance to recreational anglers. Copper rockfish are generally among the ten most frequently observed species taken by CPFV anglers near Fort Bragg, San Francisco, and occasionally Morro Bay.

Gopher rockfish are a very important component of both the commercial nearshore and recreational fisheries. They were the most important nearshore species taken by the commercial hook-and-line fishery in the Monterey Bay area in 1999. Gopher rockfish make up 7 to 11 percent of the recreational catch from Mendocino county south, and are usually among the five most frequently observed species in the CPFV boat fishery in the Morro Bay area.

Quillback rockfish are taken by private and CPFV anglers as well as divers primarily in northern California. They, like other nearshore rockfish, are an important component of the commercial nearshore live-fish fishery.

Treefish are a part of the recreational and commercial nearshore fishery off southern California. Like the calico rockfish, treefish were included for management under the Nearshore FMP primarily to facilitate transfer of management of nearshore rockfish stocks.

Next issue: California scorpionfish (sculpin), cabezon, California sheephead, kelp greenling, monkeyface prickleback and rock greenling

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Nearshore Fishery Restricted Access Discussions Continue

by Kristine Barsky, Senior Marine Biologist
& Traci Bishop, Associate Marine Biologist

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG), the Nearshore Advisory Committee, and other concerned individuals have been laying the groundwork for a restricted access program for the nearshore fishery. Presently, the fishery is large and very diverse. The primary fishing gear is line and trap, but trawls and nets also catch nearshore finfish.

The draft Nearshore Fishery Management Plan proposes several kinds of management measures that aim to promote a healthy and sustainable fishery. One type of measure is restricted access. The main goal of a restricted access program is to balance the number of participants with a sustainable resource and provide maximum value to the fishermen and society.

Having a fishery that can operate year-round, with a mixture of full- and part-time fishermen is one possible objective of a restricted access program. Fishermen often prefer to fish when they want or need, instead of only being able to fish on certain days of the week. Since California's size and diversity have resulted in species and gears typical to specific regions, it may make sense to develop a program for each region.

Balancing the number of fishermen in the nearshore fleet with the size of the fish population is going to be difficult. The catch of some nearshore species has declined in recent years, which has lowered the allowable take. Currently, the number of nearshore permittees is 700, with 121 also holding finfish trap permits. The existing moratorium on the issuance of nearshore fishery permits expires on March 31, 2002. In order to provide ample time for fishermen and general public comments, DFG is going to request an extension of this moratorium.

The details of a restricted access program await further discussion and review. Possible features include the following: 1) The proposed program would involve the continued take of the nine species which currently require a nearshore fishery permit, 2) the program would likely divide the fishery into three regions, with divisions at Cape Mendocino and Point Conception or Point Arguello, 3) only trap and line gears would be eligible for a permit. However, there would be a bycatch allowance for vessels landing small amounts of nearshore fishes with trawl or net gear. Qualifying for a permit would be based on nearshore fishing activity (documented on landing receipts) during the 1994-2000 window period. Fishermen who made very few or no landings during the window period would not be included in the fishery. Criteria to qualify for a nearshore fishery permit could include:

  • Number of years of participation
  • Average price per pound
  • A minimum landings requirement
  • Number of landings in specified years
  • Value of nearshore trips compared to the value of all trips taken

We anticipate public meetings on the proposed restricted access program during January and February 2002. At these meetings, DFG will seek feedback on options for the restricted access program, with the goal of implementing the program no later than the 2003-2004 fishing season.

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Abalone Recovery and Management Plan

by Jonathan Ramsay
Marine Biologist

A moratorium on California abalone fishing south of San Francisco Bay was imposed in 1997. The legislation mandating this fishery closure requires the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to submit an Abalone Recovery and Management Plan (ARMP) to the Fish and Game Commission by January 1, 2003. The DFG is in the process of developing the plan. The ARMP will include:

  • The biology, habitat requirements, and current threats to abalone
  • A summary of interim and long-term conservation and management goals and activities
  • Alternatives for allocating harvest between recreational and commercial divers if the llocation is warranted
  • An estimate of the time, cost, and funding sources required to meet interim and long- term goals for abalone recovery
  • Criteria for review and amendment of the chosen recovery strategy
  • Measurable criteria to determine if recovery goals are met.

Three advisory workshops are being planned to aid DFG biologists with the development of the ARMP. The main focus of the workshops is to provide the DFG with advice, feedback, and recommendations on relevant issues and actions. Workshop participants will not determine the contents of the ARMP or preferred management options. However, ideas and comments on content, possible recovery, and management directions generated by workshop participants will be used to help DFG biologists draft the ARMP.

DFG is seeking to reflect the diversity of interests from around the state and will strive to provide an equal representation of interests at the workshops. In addition to the advisory workshops, the DFG has planned public meetings to receive comments on the draft ARMP.

Information on the ARMP

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Annual Status of the Fisheries Report Submitted to Fish and Game Commission

by Susan Giles
Scientific Aid

The Marine Life Management Act (MLMA) opened a new era in the management and conservation of California's living marine resources. The MLMA not only gives the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and the Fish and Game Commission greater responsibility in managing our fisheries, but requires greater efforts to involve fishermen, scientists, and other interested parties in the process. Similar to the way good business practice dictates an annual evaluation of the "business," fisheries managers must regularly take stock of the effectiveness of their programs.

To ensure the effectiveness of California's management programs, the MLMA requires that DFG prepare annual reports on the status of recreational and commercial fisheries. The first status of the fisheries report, "California's Living Marine Resources: A Status Report," was submitted to the Commission on August 31, 2001. Although this first report is mandated to cover all of California's fisheries, subsequent annual reports are required to cover only one-fourth of the state's fisheries. As a result, every fishery will be reviewed at least every four years.

Each annual report will provide the public, law makers, fishery managers and other interested parties with the best up-to-date information available for fisheries in California's bays, estuaries and ocean waters. The MLMA clearly establishes "sustainablility" of fisheries as the major goal for California and requires these reports to identify fisheries that are not meeting sustainable policies. The annual report will also evaluate the management system, make recommendations for modifications and each restricted access program will be reviewed at least every five years for consistency with Commission policy.

The goal of the first report is to also present an overview of the oceanic, environmental, regulatory, and socio-economic features that are involved in the management of California's living marine resources. It includes chapters on topics ranging from "California's Variable Ocean Environment," to "The Status of Habitats and Water Quality in California's Coastal and Marine Environment," to "The Human Ecosystem Dimension," as well as information on the major eco-systems, restricted access, enforcement and management considerations.

The final report will be available to the public January 2002 in hard copy at DFG offices, county libraries, marine and harbor offices, Sea Grant offices, and posted on the DFG website.

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White Seabass Fishery Management Plan

by Michelle Horeczko
Marine Biologist

After months of hard work and extensive review by constituent groups, the draft White Seabass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) was completed and submitted to the Fish and Game Commission on August 4, 2001. The draft White Seabass FMP amends the existing White Seabass Fishery Management Plan adopted in 1996 by incorporating the policies of the Marine Life Management Act (MLMA); and addresses the requirements of MLMA such as constituent involvement and peer review. The goals and objectives of the White Seabass FMP will be achieved by using the best science available, managing the resource through conservative use, and considering the potential socio-economic impacts of current and future management recommendations.

The draft White Seabass FMP contains several options for management of California's white seabass resource. One option is to leave current management in place with no change. Other options involve more conservative management of the resource through the use of harvest guidelines based on estimates of optimum yield. Optimum yield is the level of long-term sustained harvest of a species modified by environmental, social and economic factors. After careful consideration and consultation with constituents, a preferred management option was chosen that would set the annual harvest of white seabass in California at 1.3 million pounds. This level would allow continued take by recreational and commercial fishermen while allowing the Commission to respond quickly to any changes in the environment or within the fishery itself, which would undermine the sustainability of the resource.

The draft White Seabass FMP was made available for review and public comment beginning July 5. The Commission took public testimony on the White Seabass FMP at the Commission meeting on August 24th in Santa Barbara. Further public testimony will be taken at the October Commission meeting in San Diego. Plan adoption is expected to occur at the October meeting. The draft White Seabass FMP is available for viewing on the DFG website while bound copies are available for viewing at state libraries and DFG offices.

For more information on the White Seabass Fishery Management Plan, please contact:

Mary Larson or Michelle Horeczko
Department of Fish and Game
White Seabass FMP
4665 Lampson Avenue, Suite C
Los Alamitos, CA 90720

To provide comments on the White Seabass Fishery Management Plan, please direct them to:

California Fish and Game Commission
White Seabass FMP
1416 Ninth Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

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