State/National/WorldFish Rap

Quillback Rockfish Retention Officially Prohibited Statewide

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced that as of Aug. 7, custody of quillback rockfish (Sebastes manager) is prohibited statewide in recreational and commercial fisheries, effective immediately.


The CDFW is projecting that the combined recreational and commercial take of quillback rockfish will exceed the harvest limits specified in federal regulation for 2023, and in-season action must occur to reduce the risk of overfishing. According to California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.20(e), when federal harvest limits are projected to be surpassed, the CDFW has the authority to make in-season adjustments, including bag and sub-bag limits.


The 2021 stock assessment for quillback rockfish off California indicated severe population declines. As a result, a recreational one-fish limit and reduced commercial limits were implemented in 2022 to minimize catch. Further constraints to the groundfish seasons for 2023 have yet to sufficiently reduce yield for quillback rockfish to meet federal harvest guidelines.


The CDFW has announced it urges anglers to use best fishing practices to reduce impacts on quillback rockfish and other prohibited species. These include reducing mortality when releasing fish by utilizing a descending device (as discussed in the Log’s Aug. 4-17 edition) and relocating to different fishing grounds or switching targets if you are catching and releasing quillback rockfish or other prohibited species.


The Rockfish, Cabezon, Greenling (RCG) complex bag and possession limit will remain ten fish daily, with a one-fish sub-bag limit for copper rockfish and a four-fish sub-bag limit for vermilion rockfish. Along with quillback rockfish, the take of bronze spotted rockfish, cowcod, and yelloweye rockfish continue to be prohibited year-round at all depths.


The CDFW has prepared informational flyers to distinguish quillback rockfish from similar-looking species, such as China and black-and-yellow rockfish, to better assist anglers with identifying rockfish species while fishing. Additional fish identification materials on rockfish and other species can be found on CDFW’s Fish and Shellfish Identification page.


The CDFW continues monitoring groundfish species of concern, such as quillback rockfish. Suppose the current in-season change prohibiting the take of quillback rockfish needs to be revised to reduce harvest. In that case, further in-season actions, such as adjustments to the season dates and depth constraints, may be implemented. 


Anglers are urged to reduce the catch of quillback rockfish and other prohibited species to decrease the possibility of further in-season actions in 2023 and beyond. The CDFW recommends anglers review the Summary of Recreational Groundfish Fishing Regulations page before each trip to guarantee that they are current on the most recent groundfish regulations.


For information on groundfish fishery science, management, and other questions, visit CDFW’s Marine Region Groundfish page.

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