California’s recreational ocean salmon fishery will be delayed statewide through the month of April, despite plans made earlier this year for the fishery to open in some locations as early as Saturday, April 4.
The delay is the result of an in-season action taken by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), on advice from the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (PFMC) salmon industry advisors and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). The April delay is a response to physical distancing requirements and widespread closures of launch ramp facilities, charter boat operations and restrictions to harbor and marina access due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Delaying the opener of the fishery will reduce impacts to stocks of concern and provide more fishing opportunity later in the summer months than would otherwise be possible.
The April delay negates the opening dates previously scheduled for the Monterey, San Francisco and Ft. Bragg management areas that had been announced in CDFW’s March 10, 2020 press release. The Klamath Management Zone (Horse Mountain to the Oregon state line) will also remain closed.
Recreational salmon season dates and regulations that will take effect on or after May 1 in all areas of California will be determined at the April PFMC meeting, which will be held via webinar due to the COVID-19 health crisis.
Anglers are always advised to check for updated information when planning a salmon fishing trip. Season dates, bag/possession limit information and gear restrictions can be found on CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage. Public notification of any in-season change to conform state regulations to federal regulations is made through the NMFS ocean salmon hotline at (800) 662-9825.
CDFW reminds Californians that everyone has the responsibility to flatten the COVID-19 curve by maintaining physical distance from other people of six feet or more when recreating in the outdoors, and staying home if they are sick.
Meanwhile, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has also provided an update on the status of the commercial California Dungeness crab fishery which includes the Northern Management Area (Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9) and Central Management Area (Fish and Game Districts 10 and south).
Recently, the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group convened to review current data and conduct an updated risk assessment to evaluate the risk of marine life entanglement. The Working Group recommendation was unanimously low risk across three of the four risk factors. The risk factor of marine life concentration in the Northern Management Area was inferred low risk by majority recommendation and unknown by a minority recommendation. However, the entire Working Group agreed that no management action was necessary at this time.
Informed by this recommendation and after careful consideration of available data, the CDFW Director determined that no management action is necessary at this time; the season will remain open for both the Northern and Central Management Areas. The Director and the Working Group, however, encourage the fleet to continue to use ‘Best Practices’ when fishing and to be ready to quickly respond to a management change at any time. Given historic migration patterns, significant numbers of whales typically return to the fishing grounds in April or May each year.
For the remainder of the commercial season, CDFW will continue to collect data to inform bi-weekly risk assessments by the Working Group. Based on that process, CDFW will likely take additional management actions in response to future risk assessments. Management action may occur at any time as conditions related to entanglement risk change. CDFW is committed to providing the fleet with as much advance notice as possible should the Director determine a management response is appropriate. For more information related to the risk assessment process, visit CDFW’s Whale Safe Fisheries webpage.
CDFW would also like to acknowledge the importance of commercial fishing to maintaining and securing our food supply. Commercial fishermen are reminded of the importance of maintaining a safe physical distance of six feet from others when outside of their home and to be vigilant about the role they must play to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
For more information, see CDFW’s Frequently Asked Questions regarding the 2019-2020 Dungeness crab commercial season or www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/invertebrates/crabs.