Fish RapState/National/World

California Fish and Game Commission Adopts 2024 Groundfish Regulations

The California Fish and Game Commission has unanimously approved adjustments to the 2024 groundfish season, affecting opening dates, fishing depths and bag limits. Following restrictions in 2023 due to exceeding federal catch limits on quillback rockfish, designated as an overfished species, the new changes offer additional fishing opportunities, but come with new requirements for anglers.

 

These regulations complement federal waters regulations, particularly to avoid quillback rockfish in their primary depth range of 20 to 50 fathoms off the northern and central California coastlines. Notably, new waypoints defining a 20-fathom boundary line will confine fishing activities shoreward of this line, facilitating an ‘Inshore Fishery’ within several groundfish management areas (GMAs) during the 2024 season. Conversely, during “offshore only fishery” months, fishing for groundfish will be limited to seaward of the 50-fathom boundary line, with restrictions on certain species. Divers and shore-based anglers remain exempt from boat-based season restrictions, aligning with current regulations.

 

Additionally, the commission has mandated the carrying and immediate availability of descending devices on vessels fishing for federal groundfish to improve the survival rate of released fish suffering from barotrauma. Another significant change involves the division of the central GMA at 36º N. latitude, providing opportunities for anglers in areas south of this line with historically minimal catch of quillback rockfish. To safeguard vermilion rockfish, the sub-limit within the Rockfish, Cabezon and Greenling complex has been reduced in specific GMAs. Recreational GMAs in California are slated for six months of all-depth or inshore fishing opportunity in 2024, with season summaries outlined for each GMA approved by the commission.

 

The 2024 regulations are anticipated to be reviewed and approved by the Office of Administrative Law and come into effect in state waters in early April, with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife providing updates on its Summary of Recreational Groundfish Fishing Regulations web page. Anglers are advised to consult this resource for the latest season openings and regulatory information before heading out to fish.

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