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Annual Status of the Fisheries Report Through 2003

CA DFG 2004
ANNUAL STATUS OF THE FISHERIES REPORT
       THROUGH 2003




  Report to the Fish and Game Commission
       as directed by the
   Marine Life Management Act of 1998




         Prepared by
  California Department of Fish and Game
         Marine Region
        December 2004
Acknowledgements
    Many of the fishery reviews in this Annual Status of the Fisheries Report are
based upon reviews first presented in four previous reports that address the status of
California’s living marine resources:

   •  California Ocean Fisheries Resources to the Year 1960 (published in 1961)
   •  California’s Living Marine Resources and Their Utilization (published in 1971)
   •  California’s Living Marine Resources and Their Utilization (published in 1992)
   •  California’s Living Marine Resources: A Status Report (published in 2001)

The authors of the 1961, 1971, 1992 or 2001 editions are credited if significant portions
of the text from an earlier review are included in the 2002 review. Authors’ names and
affiliations at the time they wrote or revised the review are listed at the end of each
review.

Contributors
Kristine C. Barsky, California Department of Fish and Game
Dennis Bedford, California Department of Fish and Game
Patrick Collier, California Department of Fish and Game
Carolynn S. Culver, University of California, Santa Barbara
David Hankin, Humboldt State University
Peter Kalvass, California Department of Fish and Game
Armand M. Kuris, University of California, Santa Barbara
John O'Brien, California Department of Fish and Game
Jennifer K. O'Leary, California Department of Fish and Game
David O. Parker, California Department of Fish and Game
Mary Patyten, California Department of Fish and Game
Connie Ryan, California Department of Fish and Game
Alex Vejar, California Department of Fish and Game
Lisa A. Wertz, California Department of Fish and Game
Stephen P. Wertz, California Department of Fish and Game


Edited by:
Connie Ryan                   Mary Patyten
California Department of Fish and Game     California Department of Fish and Game
350 Harbor Boulevard              20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Suite 100
Belmont, CA 94002                Monterey, CA 93940


Tables and Figures by:
Lisa A. Wertz
California Department of Fish and Game
350 Harbor Boulevard
Belmont, CA 94002
                          Table of Contents

Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 1

1.  Giant Kelp ............................................................................................................. 1-1
2.  Bull Kelp ................................................................................................................ 2-1
3.  Sea Palm............................................................................................................... 3-1
4.  California Spiny Lobster ........................................................................................ 4-1
5.  Rock Crabs ........................................................................................................... 5-1
6.  Dungeness Crab ................................................................................................... 6-1
7.  Sheep Crab ........................................................................................................... 7-1
8.  Abalones ............................................................................................................... 8-1
9.  Red Sea Urchin ..................................................................................................... 9-1
10.  Purple Sea Urchin ............................................................................................... 10-1
11.  Sea Basses ......................................................................................................... 11-1
12.  Ocean Whitefish .................................................................................................. 12-1
13.  Surfperches ......................................................................................................... 13-1
14.  California Halibut ................................................................................................. 14-1




Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                                            i
                       List of Figures

Figure 1.1   Annual commercial landings (tons) of giant kelp
        from 1916 to 2001................................................................................... 1-2
Figure 1.2   The life cycle of giant kelp....................................................................... 1-4
Figure 1.3   Kelp forest densities from aerial surveys completed
        in 1967, 1989, and 1999 ........................................................................ 1-5
Figure 4.1   Annual (calendar year) commercial landings (pounds) of
        California spiny lobster from 1916 to 2001.............................................. 4-1
Figure 4.2   Commercial landings (pounds) of California spiny
        Lobster by season (early October to mid-March) from
        the 1935-1936 season to the 2000-2001 season.................................... 4-2
Figure 4.3   Number of lobster operator permits issued for the
        commercial California spiny lobster fishery from the
        1980-1981 season to the 2001-2002 season.......................................... 4-4
Figure 5.1   Annual commercial landings (pounds) of yellow,
        brown, and red rock crabs from 1916 to 2001 ........................................ 5-1
Figure 6.1   Annual (calendar year) commercial landings (pounds) of
        Dungeness crab from 1916 to 2001........................................................ 6-1
Figure 6.2   Commercial landings of Dungeness crab by season (late fall to early
        summer) for northern California (includes Eureka, Crescent City,
        and Fort Bragg) and central California (includes Bodega
        Bay, San Francisco area, Monterey, and Morro Bay) ............................. 6-2
Figure 6.3   Total number of permits (resident and non-resident)
        issued for the commercial Dungeness crab fishery
        from the 1992-1993 license year (April 1 through
        March 31) to the 2002-2003 (preliminary) license year........................... 6-5
Figure 7.1   Annual commercial landings (pounds) of sheep crab
        from 1916 to 2001................................................................................... 7-1
Figure 8.1   Annual commercial landings (pounds) of red, pink, green,
        white, black, and unspecified abalone from 1916 to 2001 ...................... 8-1
Figure 8.2   Annual commercial landings (pounds) of red abalone
        from 1950 to 2001 .................................................................................. 8-2
Figure 8.3   Annual commercial landings (pounds) of pink abalone
        from 1950 to 2001................................................................................... 8-3
Figure 8.4   Annual commercial landings (pounds) of green abalone
        from 1950 to 2001................................................................................... 8-3
Figure 8.5   Annual commercial landings (pounds) of white abalone
        from 1950 to 2001................................................................................... 8-4
Figure 8.6   Annual commercial landings (pounds) of black abalone
        from 1950 to 2001 .................................................................................. 8-4
Figure 9.1   Annual commercial landings (pounds) of red sea urchin
        from 1916 to 2001................................................................................... 9-1



Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                                     ii
Figure 9.2   Annual commercial landings (pounds) of red sea urchin in
        northern California and southern California from 1971 to 2001 .............. 9-2
Figure 9.3   The proportion of commercial red sea urchin landings in
        southern California taken from the northern Channel Islands,
        southern Channel Islands, and mainland from 1981 to 2001.................. 9-2
Figure 9.4   Comparison of northern California red sea urchin
        landings (pounds) and CPUE (pounds per diver-day)
        from 1988 to 2001................................................................................... 9-3
Figure 9.5   Number of sea urchin diving permits issued for the
        commercial red and purple sea urchin fisheries from the 1987-
        1988 license year (April 1 through March 31) to the 2002-2003
        license year............................................................................................. 9-6
Figure 10.1  Annual commercial landings (pounds) of purple sea
        urchin from 1916 to 2001 ...................................................................... 10-1
Figure 11.1  Annual commercial landings (pounds) of sea basses
        (combined landings of kelp bass, barred sand bass,
        and spotted sand bass) from 1916 to 1953........................................... 11-1
Figure 11.2  Recreational commercial passenger fishing vessel (CPFV)
        landings (number of fish) as reported on CPFV Logbooks
        for kelp bass, barred sand bass, and spotted sand bass
        from 1947 to 2001................................................................................. 11-2
Figure 11.3  Estimated recreational catch (pounds) of kelp bass, barred
        sand bass, and spotted sand bass from 1980 to 1989
        and 1993 to 2001.................................................................................. 11-3
Figure 12.1  Estimated recreational catch (pounds) of ocean whitefish
        from 1980 to 1989 and 1993 to 2001.................................................... 12-1
Figure 12.2  Recreational commercial passenger fishing vessel (CPFV)
        landings (number of fish) as reported on CPFV Logbooks
        for ocean whitefish from 1947 to 2001 .................................................. 12-2
Figure 12.3  Annual commercial landings (pounds) of ocean whitefish
        from 1916 to 2001................................................................................. 12-3
Figure 13.1  Annual commercial landings (pounds) of surfperches
        from 1916 to 2001................................................................................. 13-2
Figure 13.2  Estimated recreational catch (pounds) of surfperches
        from 1980 to 1989 and 1993 to 2001.................................................... 13-4
Figure 14.1  Annual commercial landings (pounds) of California
        halibut from 1916 to 2001 ..................................................................... 14-1
Figure 14.2  Estimated recreational catch (pounds) of California
        halibut from 1980 to 1989 and 1993 to 2001 ........................................ 14-3
Figure 14.3  Recreational commercial passenger fishing vessel (CPFV)
        landings (number of fish) as reported on CPFV Logbooks
        for California halibut from 1947 to 2001 ................................................ 14-4




Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                                        iii
                         List of Tables

Table 1     List of fisheries reviewed in the Annual Status of the Fisheries Reports.... 3
Table 1.1    Commercial landings (tons) of giant kelp, 1916-2001 ........................... 1-10
Table 4.1    Commercial landings (pounds) of California spiny lobster,
         1916-2001 .............................................................................................. 4-9
Table 4.2    Consistency of the restricted access program for the
        California spiny lobster commercial fishery with the Fish and Game
        Commission policies on restricted access for commercial fisheries........ 4-9
Table 5.1    Commercial landings (pounds) of yellow, brown, and red rock crabs,
        1916-2001............................................................................................... 5-5
Table 6.1    Commercial landings (pounds) of Dungeness crab, 1916-2001 ........... 6-10
Table 6.2    Consistency of the restricted access program for the
        Dungeness crab commercial fishery with the Fish and Game
        Commission policies on restricted access for commercial fisheries...... 6-10
Table 7.1    Commercial landings (pounds) of sheep crab, 1916-2001...................... 7-5
Table 7.2    Commercial landings (pounds) of crab claws, 1986-2001 ...................... 7-5
Table 8.1    Abalone biological information summary ................................................ 8-7
Table 8.2    Commercial landings (pounds) of red, pink, green,
        white, black, and unidentified abalone, 1916-2001 ............................... 8-13
Table 9.1    Commercial landings (pounds) of red sea urchin, 1916-2001............... 9-11
Table 9.2    Consistency of the restricted program for the sea urchin
        commercial fishery with the Fish and Game Commission
        policies on restricted access for commercial fisheries ......................... 9-11
Table 10.1   Commercial landings (pounds) of purple sea urchin, 1916-2001.......... 10-4
Table 11.1   Commercial landings (pounds) of sea basses (kelp bass, barred
        sand bass, and spotted sand bass), 1916-1953 ................................. 11-10
Table 11.2   Recreational commercial passenger fishing vessel (CPFV)
        landings (number of fish) as reported on CPFV Logbooks for
        kelp bass, barred sand bass, and spotted sand bass, 1947-2001 ...... 11-11
Table 11.3   Estimated catch (number of fish) by recreational anglers
        of barred sand bass by fishing mode, 1980-2001 ............................... 11-13
Table 11.4   Estimated catch (pounds) by recreational anglers of
        barred sand bass by fishing mode, 1980-2001 ................................... 11-14
Table 11.5   Estimated catch (number of fish) by recreational
        anglers of kelp bass by fishing mode, 1980-2001............................... 11-15
Table 11.6   Estimated catch (pounds) by recreational anglers of
        kelp bass by fishing mode, 1980-2001 ............................................... 11-16
Table 11.7   Estimated catch (number of fish) by recreational anglers
        of spotted sand bass by fishing mode, 1980-2001.............................. 11-17
Table 11.8   Estimated catch (pounds) by recreational anglers of
        spotted sand bass by fishing mode, 1980-2001.................................. 11-18
Table 12.1   Estimated catch (pounds) by recreational anglers of
         ocean whitefish by fishing mode, 1980-2001........................................ 12-7



Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                                        iv
Table 12.2   Estimated catch (number of fish) by recreational anglers
        of ocean whitefish by fishing mode, 1980-2001 .................................... 12-8
Table 12.3   Recreational commercial passenger fishing vessel
        (CPFV) landings (number of fish) as reported on CPFV
        Logbooks for ocean whitefish, 1947-2001 ............................................ 12-9
Table 12.4   Commercial landings (pounds) of ocean whitefish, 1916-2001............. 12-9
Table 13.1   Summary of recreational catches of marine surfperches
        from 1981 through 1989 and from 1993 through 2001 ......................... 13-5
Table 13.2   Summary of reproductive information for marine surfperch
        species in California.............................................................................. 13-7
Table 13.3   Summary of biological information for marine surfperch
        species in California.............................................................................. 13-8
Table 13.4   Commercial landings (pounds) of surfperches from 1916-2001 ......... 13-13
Table 13.5   Estimated recreational catch (pounds) of surfperches
        by fishing mode, 1980-2001................................................................ 13-14
Table 13.6   Estimated recreational catch (number of fish) of surfperches
        by fishing mode, 1980-2001................................................................ 13-15
Table 14.1   Commercial landings (pounds) of California halibut, 1916-2001........... 14-8
Table 14.2   Estimated catch (number of fish) by recreational anglers
        of California halibut by fishing mode, 1980-2001 .................................. 14-9
Table 14.3   Estimated catch (pounds) by recreational anglers of
        California halibut by fishing mode, 1980-2001 .................................... 14-10
Table 14.4   Recreational commercial passenger fishing vessel (CPFV)
        landings (number of fish) as reported on CPFV Logbooks
        for California halibut, 1947-2001......................................................... 14-11




Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                                      v
                    List of Appendices

Appendix A
Determining the Species List for the Annual Status of the Fisheries Reports .............A-1

Appendix B
Data Sources for the Annual Status of the Fisheries Report .......................................B-1




Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                             vi
              Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
                    Introduction

    The Marine Life Management Act (MLMA) of 1998 recognized that one of the
keys to effective fisheries management is periodic review. The MLMA mandated that
the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) review at least one quarter of state-
managed marine fisheries annually, review each restricted access program at least
every five years, and provide an annual report to the Fish and Game Commission. The
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report (ASFR) is required to:

    •  Identify any fishery that does not meet the sustainability policies of the MLMA
    •  Evaluate whether the management system in place is fair and reasonable in
      its interactions with the people affected by management of the fishery
    •  Provide information on landings and fishing effort
    •  Identify areas where each fishery occurs
    •  Identify causes for any depressed fishery, and steps being taken to rebuild
      the fishery
    •  Recommend, to the extent practicable, additional steps that may be taken to
      rebuild the fishery
    •  Determine the consistency of restricted access fishery programs with the Fish
      and Game Commission’s policies on restricted access fisheries
      (Fish and Game Code §7065 and §7066)

    The focus of the ASFR is on state-managed marine species that are the subject
of a directed recreational or commercial fishery. To determine the species of marine life
to include in the annual ASFRs, the ASFR editors reviewed the list of state-managed
marine life in the MLMA Master Plan (Appendix A). This list, which includes 375
categories of marine fish, invertebrates, plants and algae, was used as a basis for
developing the list of species to be reviewed in ASFRs. ASFR editors modified the
MLMA Master Plan list such that:

    •  Species that reside primarily outside state waters or in freshwater habitats
      were eliminated
    •  Species included in a Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) fishery
      management plan were eliminated. However, species that are the subject of
      both a PFMC fishery management plan and a state fishery management plan
      were included
    •  Species with a prohibition on recreational and commercial harvest were
      eliminated
    •  Species not the subject of a directed marine fishery at present or in the
      foreseeable future were eliminated. However, species taken incidentally as
      bycatch, or that were previously the subject of a directed fishery, were
      included in the list of species to monitor




                                          1
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
    The ASFR list of species was divided into four groups. Every year, one group
will be reviewed in a ASFR (Table 1), so that each group will be reviewed every four
years. The ASFR list was further subdivided into species that will receive a detailed
review (full review) and species that will be monitored and receive a limited review
(Table 1). Each restricted access program will be reviewed in conjunction with the
fishery to which it applies.
    The ASFR list of species is a dynamic document that currently contains over 150
species (Table 1). As fisheries change, this list will be modified. For example, fishery
landings will be monitored for new and emerging fisheries, and new species may be
added to the list. Conversely, species no longer supporting a directed fishery, or
species that become the subject of a PFMC fishery management plan, will be removed.
    The MLMA mandate for periodic reports on the status of California’s living marine
resources was not created until 1998; however, the DFG has undertaken such reports
previous to that time. The DFG has published four reports that address the status of
California’s living marine resources, often in conjunction with the University of California
Sea Grant Extension Program:

    •  California Ocean Fisheries Resources to the Year 1960 (published in 1961)
    •  California’s Living Marine Resources and Their Utilization (published in 1971)
    •  California’s Living Marine Resources and Their Utilization (published in 1992)
    •  California’s Living Marine Resources: A Status Report (published in 2001)

In 2001, DFG collaborated with the University of California Sea Grant Extension
Program to produce California’s Living Marine Resources: A Status Report. This report
presented the best information available for state-managed marine fisheries, federally-
managed fisheries, anadromous fisheries, and marine wildlife. It also presented
information about oceanic, environmental, regulatory, and socioeconomic factors that
affect California’s living marine resources. This ASFR builds upon and updates the
information presented in the 2001 report.
    This ASFR includes 14 reviews covering 42 species and 3 restricted access
programs. Each review addresses the specific items required per Fish and Game Code
§7065 and §7066 and provides:

    •  An overview of human use and harvest, including information on landings,
      fishing effort, and location of the fishery
    •  An overview of the biological characteristics of the species
    •  Our current understanding of the status of the population(s), identifying
      fisheries that are depressed or not sustainable
    •  A description of current management activities, factors that might affect
      management, and management activities that could be considered to sustain
      healthy populations, enhance populations or improve the fishery.

    Three primary types of fishery-dependent data (that is, data collected directly
from fishery activities) (Appendix B) were used in this ASFR:

    •  Commercial landing receipts for commercial fisheries

                                           2
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
    •  Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS) estimates of
      recreational catch
    •  Commercial passenger fishing vessel (CPFV) logbook landings of
      recreational catch from CPFVs

Some reviews used other fishery-dependent and fishery-independent data sources;
these sources are described in the individual reviews.


Table 1. List of fisheries reviewed in the Annual Status of the Fisheries Reports
 Review title          Species in the review       Type of  Includes a  Report
                                  review1         cycle3
                                       review of a
                                        restricted
           Common name       Scientific name         access
                                        program2
ALGAE
Giant Kelp     giant kelp                     Full           1
                     Macrocystis pyrifera
Bull Kelp     bull kelp                     Full           1
                     Nerocystis luetkeana
Sea Palm      sea palm                      Full           1
                     Postelsia palmaeformis
INVERTEBRATES
Abalones      black                       Full           1
                     Haliotis cracherodii
          flat                        Full
                     Haliotis walallensis
          green                       Full
                     Haliotis fulgens
          pink                        Full
                     Haliotis corrugata
          pinto                       Full
                     Haliotis kamtschatkana
          red                        Full
                     Haliotis rufescens
          white                       Full
                     Haliotis sorenseni
Intertidal     giant limpet                    Full           2
                     Lottia gigantea
Invertebrates   multiple species of                Full
                     Tegula funebralis, T.
          top shell       eiseni, T. gallina, T.
                     aureotincta
Subtidal Snails  wavy turban snail                 Full           2
                     Megastraea undosa
          Kellet's whelk                   Full
                     Kelletia kelletii
Moon Snail     multiple species of               Limited           4
                     Polinices spp.
          moon snails
Hermissenda    hermissenda                   Limited           4
                     Hermissenda
Nudibranch     nudibranch       crassicornis
Littleneck     banded chione                   Full           3
                     Chione californiensis
Clams       smooth chione                   Full
                     Chione fluctifraga
          wavy chione                    Full
                     Chione undatella
          common littleneck                 Full
                     Protothaca staminea
          clam
          Japanese (Manila)                 Full
                     Tapes japonica, T.
          littleneck clam    philippinarum
          rough-sided                    Full
                     Protothaca laciniata
          littleneck clam
          thin-shelled                    Full
                     Protothaca tenerrima
          littleneck clam




                                              3
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 1. List of fisheries reviewed in the Annual Status of the Fisheries Reports
 Review title          Species in the review        Type of Includes a  Report
                                   review1        cycle3
                                       review of a
                                        restricted
           Common name        Scientific name         access
                                        program2
Washington                                           3
          Washington clam                   Full
                     Saxidomus nuttalli
Clams       butter clam                    Limited
                     Saxidomus giganteus
Gaper Clams    Pacific gaper clam                 Full           3
                     Tresus nuttalli
          fat gaper clam                   Full
                     Tresus capax
California     California jackknife Tagelus californianus    Limited          4
Jackknife Clam   clam
Northern      northern quahog                  Limited          4
                     Mercenaria mercenaria
Quahog Clam    clam
Goeduck Clam    goeduck clam                    Full           3
                     Panopea genersoa
Pismo Clam     Pismo clam                     Full           4
                     Tivela stultorum
Northern Razor   northern razor clam Siliqua patula        Limited          4
Clam
Softshell Clam   softshell clam                  Limited          4
                     Mya arenaria
Rock Scallop    rock scallop                   Limited          4
                     Crassadoma gigantea
Mussels      multiple species of                Limited          4
                     Mytilus galloprovincialis,
          mussels        M. trossulus, M.
                     californianus
Market Squid    market squid                    Full    X      4
                     Loligo opalescens
Two-spot      two-spot octopus                 Limited          4
                     Octopus bimaculoides,
Octopus                  O. bimaculatus
Bay Shrimp     California bay                   Full           2
                     Crangon franciscorum
          shrimp
          blacktail bay                    Full
                     Crangon nigricauda
          shrimp
          blackspotted bay                  Full
                     Crangon nigromaculata
          shrimp
          oriental shrimp                   Full
                     Palaemon macrodactylus
Prawns       golden prawn                    Full    X      4
                     Penaeus californiensis
          ridgeback prawn                   Full
                     Sicyonia ingentis
          spot prawn                     Full
                     Pandalus platyceros
Coonstriped    coonstriped shrimp Pandalus danae          Full           4
Shrimp
Pink Shrimp    ocean shrimp                    Full    X      4
                     Pandalus jordani
Red Rock      red rock shrimp                   Full           4
                     Lysmata californica
Shrimp
Blue Mud      blue mud shrimp                  Limited          4
                     Upogebia pugettensis
Shrimp
Ghost Shrimp    multiple species of                Limited          4
                     Callianassa
          ghost shrimp      californiensis,
                     Callianassa affinis, C.
                     gigas
California Spiny California spiny                   Full    X      1
                     Panulirus interruptus
Lobster      lobster
Sand Crab     sand crab                     Limited          4
                     Emerita analoga
Rock Crabs     brown rock crab                   Full           1
                     Cancer antennarius
          red rock crab                    Full
                     Cancer productus
          yellow rock crab                  Full
                     Cancer anthonyi


                                              4
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 1. List of fisheries reviewed in the Annual Status of the Fisheries Reports
 Review title          Species in the review       Type of  Includes a  Report
                                  review1         cycle3
                                       review of a
                                        restricted
           Common name        Scientific name         access
                                        program2
Dungeness     Dungeness crab                   Full     X      1
                     Cancer magister
Crab
Slender Crab    slender crab                   Limited           4
                     Cancer gracilis
Tanner Crab    tanner crab                   Limited           4
                     Chionoecetes tanneri
Sheep Crab     sheep crab                     Full           1
                     Loxorhynchus grandis
Box Crab      box crab                     Limited           4
                     Lopholithodes
                     foraminatus
Sea Urchins    red sea urchin                   Full     X      1
                     Strongylocentrotus
                     franciscanus
          purple sea urchin                 Full
                     Strongylocentrotus
                     purpuratus
Sea Cucumbers California sea                     Full     X      2
                     Parastichopus
          cucumber        californicus
          warty sea                     Full
                     Parastichopus
          cucumber        parvimensis
FISHES
Hagfish      black hagfish                  Limited           4
                     Eptatretus deani
          Pacific hagfish                 Limited
                     Eptatretus stouti
Cow Sharks     sevengill shark                  Full           2
                     Notorynchus cepedianus
          sixgill shark                   Full
                     Hexanchus griseus
Nearshore     brown                       Full           2
                     Mustelus henlei
Sharks and     smoothhound
Rays        gray smoothhound Mustelus californicus       Full
          angel shark                    Full
                     Squatina californica
          shovelnose                     Full
                     Rhinobatos productus
          guitarfish
          thornback                     Full
                     Platyrhinoidis triseriata
          bat ray                      Full
                     Myliobatis californica
Pacific Electric                          Limited           4
                     Torpedo californica
          Pacific electric ray
Ray
Pacific Herring  Pacific herring                  Full     X      3
                     Clupea pallasi
True Smelt     night smelt                    Full           4
                     Spirinchus starksi
          surf smelt                     Full
                     Hypomesus pretiosus
          whitebait smelt                  Full
                     Allosmerus elongatus
California     California lizardfish Synodus lucioceps     Limited           4
Lizardfish
Pacific tomcod   Pacific tomcod                  Limited           4
                     Microgadus proximus
Silversides    California grunion                 Full           4
                     Leuresthes tenuis
          jacksmelt                     Full
                     Atherinopsis
                     californiensis
          topsmelt                      Full
                     Atherinops affinis




                                              5
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 1. List of fisheries reviewed in the Annual Status of the Fisheries Reports
 Review title          Species in the review       Type of  Includes a  Report
                                  review1         cycle3
                                       review of a
                                        restricted
           Common name        Scientific name          access
                                        program2
Nearshore                                      X      3
          black rockfish                   Full
                     Sebastes melanops
Rockfishes and                                (Nearshore
          black-and-yellow                  Full
                     Sebastes chrysomelas
Scorpionfishes                                and Deeper
          rockfish
                                       Nearshore)
          blue rockfish                   Full
                     Sebastes mystinus
          brown rockfish                   Full
                     Sebastes auriculatus
          calico rockfish                  Full
                     Sebastes dalli
          China rockfish                   Full
                     Sebastes nebulosus
          copper rockfish                  Full
                     Sebastes caurinus
          gopher rockfish                  Full
                     Sebastes carnatus
          grass rockfish                   Full
                     Sebastes rastrelliger
          kelp rockfish                   Full
                     Sebastes atrovirens
          olive rockfish                   Full
                     Sebastes serranoides
          quillback rockfish                 Full
                     Sebastes maliger
          treefish                      Full
                     Sebastes serriceps
          California                     Full
                     Scorpaena guttata
          scorpionfish
Greenlings     kelp greenling                   Full     X      3
                     Hexagrammos
                                       (Nearshore)
                     decagrammus
          rock greenling                   Full
                     Hexagrammos
                     lagocephalus
Cabezon      cabezon                      Full     X      3
                     Scorpaenichthys
                                       (Nearshore)
                     marmoratus
Pacific Staghorn Pacific staghorn                   Full            2
                     Leptocottus armatus
Sculpin      sculpin
Sea Basses     barred sand bass                  Full            1
                     Paralabrax nebulifer
          kelp bass                     Full
                     Paralabrax clathratus
          spotted sand bass                 Full
                     Paralabrax
                     maculatofasciatus
Ocean       ocean whitefish                  Full            1
                     Caulolatilus princeps
Whitefish
Yellowtail     yellowtail                     Full            4
                     Seriola lalandi
Sargo       sargo                       Full            2
                     Anisotremus davidsoni
California     California                     Full     X      3
                     Semicossyphus pulcher
sheephead     sheephead                         (Nearshore)
Drums       California corbina                 Full            3
                     Menticirrhus undulatus
          spotfin croaker                  Full
                     Roncador stearnsi
          white croaker                   Full
                     Genyonemus lineatus
          yellowfin croaker                 Full
                     Umbrina roncador
          queenfish                     Full
                     Seriphus politus
White Seabass   white seabass                   Full            3
                     Atractoscion nobilis
Sea Chubs     halfmoon                      Full            4
                     Medialuna californiensis
          opaleye                      Full
                     Girella nigricans




                                               6
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 1. List of fisheries reviewed in the Annual Status of the Fisheries Reports
 Review title          Species in the review       Type of  Includes a  Report
                                  review1         cycle3
                                       review of a
                                        restricted
           Common name       Scientific name          access
                                        program2
Surfperches                                           1
          barred surfperch                  Full
                     Amphistichus argenteus
          black perch                    Full
                     Embiotoca jacksoni
          calico surfperch                  Full
                     Amphistichus koelzi
          dwarf perch                    Full
                     Micrometrus minimus
          kelp perch                     Full
                     Brachyistius frenatus
          pile perch                     Full
                     Rhacochilus vacca
          pink seaperch                   Full
                     Zalembius rosaceus
          rainbow seaperch                  Full
                     Hypsurus caryi
          redtail surfperch                 Full
                     Amphistichus rhodoterus
          reef perch                     Full
                     Micrometrus aurora
          rubberlip seaperch Rhacochilus toxotes       Full
          sharpnose                     Full
                     Phanerodon atripes
          seaperch
          shiner perch                    Full
                     Cymatogaster aggregata
          silver surfperch                  Full
                     Hyperprosopon ellipticum
          spotfin surfperch                 Full
                     Hyperprosopon anale
          striped seaperch                  Full
                     Embiotoca lateralis
                                   Full
                     Hyperprosopon
          walleye surfperch
                     argenteum
          white seaperch                   Full
                     Phanerodon furcatus
Blacksmith     blacksmith                    Limited           4
                     Chromis punctipinnis
Striped Mullet   striped mullet                  Limited           4
                     Mugil cephalus
Pacific      pacific barracuda                 Full           4
                     Sphyraena argentea
Barracuda
Monkeyface     monkeyface                     Full           3
                     Cebidichthys violaceus
Prickleback    prickleback
Wolf eel      wolf eel                     Limited           4
                     Anarrhichthys ocellatus
Pacific bonito   Pacific bonito                   Full           2
                     Sarda chiliensis
Pacific      Pacific pompano                  Full           2
                     Peprilus simillimus
Pompano
Sanddabs                               Full           2
                     Citharichthys
          longfin sanddab
                     xanthostigma
          speckled sanddab                  Full
                     Citharichthys stigmaeus
California     California halibut                 Full           1
                     Paralichthys californicus
Halibut
Diamond Turbot diamond turbot                    Limited           4
                     Hypsopsetta guttulata
Fantail Sole    fantail sole                   Limited           4
                     Xystreurys liolepis
OTHER REVIEWS
Scientific     multiple species                  Full           2
Collection
Aquarium Trade multiple species                    Full           3
Emerging      multiple species                 Limited           4
Fisheries




                                              7
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 1. List of fisheries reviewed in the Annual Status of the Fisheries Reports
  Review title         Species in the review           Type of   Includes a   Report
                                      review1          cycle3
                                            review of a
                                            restricted
           Common name        Scientific name             access
                                            program2
General Gill and Not applicable       Not applicable        Restricted     X      2
Trammel Net                                Access
Restricted                                 Review
Access                                    only
Drift Gillnet    Not applicable     Not applicable        Restricted     X      4
(shark and                                 Access
swordfish)                                 Review
Restricted                                  only
Access
Finfish Trap    Not applicable     Not applicable        Restricted     X      3
Restricted                                 Access
Access                                   Review
                                       only
Salmon Vessel    Not applicable     Not applicable        Restricted     X      4
Restricted                                 Access
Access                                   Review
                                       only
1. Each species will receive either a detailed review (full review) or a limited review. Species that are not
the subject of a directed fishery, but are taken as bycatch or were previously the subject of a directed
fishery will be monitored and receive a limited review.
2. Restricted access programs that are directly connected with a particular species or group of species
on the Annual Status of the Fisheries Reports list of species will be reviewed in conjunction with that
species or group of species. Other restricted access programs will be reviewed separately.
3. The list of reviews is divided into four groups (#1, 2, 3, and 4). Every year, one group will be reviewed.




                                                  8
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
                    1. GIANT KELP

Overview of Use and Harvest
    Kelp is an important food source for humans and animals around the world. In
Asia, Europe, and Australia, kelp has historically been used not only as a food source,
but also as fertilizer and a component in gunpowder. Algin, a substance found in the
cell walls of kelp, is an efficient thickening, stabilizing, suspending, and gelling agent
used in a wide range of food and industrial applications. It can be found in various
desserts, gels, milk-shake mixes, dairy products, and canned foods. It is also used to
emulsify and stabilize salad dressings, to retain moisture and improve the texture of
bakery products, to insure smooth consistency and uniform thawing in frozen foods, and
to stabilize beer foam. In industrial applications, algin is used for paper and welding-rod
coatings, sizing, and textile printing. In pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications, it is
used to make tablets, dental impressions, antacid formulations, and facial creams and
lotions. Giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera, is not only an important source of algin in
California, it is also harvested and fed to cultured abalone, and used in the herring-roe-
on-kelp fishery in San Francisco Bay.
    Giant kelp was first harvested along the California coast during the early 1900s.
Several harvesting companies operated from San Diego (San Diego County) to Santa
Barbara (Santa Barbara County) beginning in 1911. These companies primarily
extracted potash and acetone from kelp to use in the manufacture of explosives during
World War I.
    Kelp harvesting virtually stopped in the early 1920s, after the end of the war. In
1928, Philip R. Park Inc. of San Pedro began harvesting kelp and adding it to livestock
and poultry food. In 1929, Kelco Company of San Diego (now ISP Alginates Inc.)
began harvesting and processing giant kelp for livestock feed and algin.
    Since 1917, kelp harvesting has been managed by the California Department of
Fish and Game (DFG) under regulations adopted by the Fish and Game Commission
(Commission). Regulations currently allow kelp to be cut no deeper than 4 ft beneath
the surface, although the surface canopy can be harvested several times each year
without damaging kelp beds. Kelp harvesting licenses are required to take kelp for
commercial use. There are 74 designated giant kelp beds which can be leased for up
to 20 years; however, no more than 25 sq. mi. or 50% of the total kelp bed area
(whichever is greater) can be exclusively leased by any one harvester. In addition to
leased beds, there are open beds that can be harvested by anyone with a valid kelp
harvesting license. Harvesters pay a royalty of $1.71 to $10.00 per wet ton of kelp
harvested.
    In 2001, DFG completed an environmental review of giant and bull kelp sport and
commercial regulations. As a result of this review, and of public and inter-agency input,
a number of amendments were adopted addressing the commercial harvest of kelp.
The more substantial amendments include:

    •  Requiring harvesters to obtain Commission approval of a harvest plan before
      a mechanical harvester can be used to harvest giant kelp in central and
      northern California
    •  Increasing the number of beds closed to harvest

Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                      1-1
               •  Closing a portion of a bed in Monterey County which experiences heavy
                 seasonal harvest pressure
               •  Creating a mechanism for restricting harvest by imposing temporary harvest
                 controls where necessary for resource protection

    Giant kelp is one of California’s most valuable living marine resources. In 2001,
the kelp harvesting industry was valued at more than $30 million annually. Today, giant
kelp is harvested from Imperial Beach in San Diego County, near the U.S.-Mexico
border, to Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz County). Mexican harvesters in Ensenada provide
another source of kelp from beds off Baja California.
    The annual harvest has varied from a high of 395,000 tons in 1918 to a low of
less than 1,000 tons in 1931 (Figure 1.1, Table 1.1). Such fluctuations are primarily due
to climate change and natural growth cycles as well as market supply and demand.
During the 10-year period from 1970 to 1979, the harvest averaged nearly 150,000
tons, while from 1980 to 1989 the average harvest was only 66,000 tons. During the
1980s, kelp harvests were devastated by the 1982-1984 El Niño event and
accompanying storms, and the 200-year storm that occurred in January 1988. In most
areas, giant kelp recovered quickly with the return of cooler, nutrient rich waters.
Harvests in California increased to more than 130,000 tons in 1989 and to over 150,000
tons in 1990. During the 1990s, increased competition from Japan for “low end” or less-
purified alginate caused ISP Alginates Inc. to reduce harvests by about half. ISP
Alginates Inc. anticipates harvesting approximately 50,000 tons of giant kelp annually
from California waters over the next several years.


                    Commercial Landings of Giant Kelp, 1916-2001
  thousands of tons landed




               450
               400
               350
               300
               250
               200
               150
               100
                50
                0
                1910  1920  1930  1940  1950  1960  1970  1980  1990  2000

Figure 1.1. Annual commercial landings (tons) of giant kelp from 1916 to 2001. Data source is the Kelp
Harvester's Monthly Report (logbook) and data is not available from 1921 to 1930. Kelp landings consist
primarily of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera).

   Kelp harvesters use harvesting methods that best suit their purposes and needs.
For example, ISP Alginates Inc. uses specially designed vessels with cutting
mechanisms on the stern, and a conveyor system that places the cut kelp into a
harvester bin. Blades mounted at the base of the conveyor are lowered 3 ft into the

Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                                1-2
kelp bed while propellers on the bow slowly push the harvester stern-first through the
bed. These vessels can collect up to 600 tons of kelp per day. To facilitate its
harvesting operations, the company conducts regular aerial surveys from June through
November. This survey information is used to direct harvesting vessels to mature areas
of kelp canopy that have sufficient density for harvesting. Another kelp harvesting
company, The Abalone Farm, harvests kelp to feed cultured abalone using a modified
U.S. Navy landing craft with a cutting device and conveyor system mounted on the bow.
For the herring roe-on-kelp fishery, however, kelp is hand-harvested from small boats,
loaded carefully into bins and transported by truck to San Francisco Bay.

Status of Biological Knowledge
     Giant kelp forests occur in the temperate oceans of the Northern and Southern
Hemispheres. These forests are especially well developed along the west coast of
North America from Punta Abreojos in Baja California, Mexico, to Point Año Nuevo, San
Mateo County, California. They create a unique habitat that provides food, shelter,
substrate, and nursery areas for nearly 800 species of animals and plants. Many of
these animals and some plants are of importance to sport and commercial fisheries.
     Typically, giant kelp flourishes in wave-exposed areas of nutrient-rich, cool water
ranging from 20 to 120 ft deep. The kelp attaches to rocky areas on the sea floor by
means of a root-like structure called a holdfast. Along the protected shoreline of Santa
Barbara County, however, giant kelp also grows on sand. Here, it attaches to exposed
worm tubes or the remains of old holdfasts. Kelp fronds grow from the holdfast towards
the sea surface. A frond is composed of a stem-like stipe which has numerous leaf-like
blades springing from it. A gas-filled bladder at the base of each blade, called the
pneumatocyst, helps buoy the frond in the water column.
     Giant kelp absorbs nutrients from the water through all its surfaces. Under
optimal conditions with high nutrient levels and low ocean temperatures (50° to 60° F),
fronds can grow up to 2 ft per day. Fronds can reach a length of more than 150 ft, and
large plants can have more than 100 fronds. As the fronds mature, die, and break
away, young fronds take their place. Although giant kelp plants can live for up to 8
years, individual fronds last for only about 6 to 9 months, and individual blades live only
about 4 months.
     Giant kelp reproduction involves two very different growth forms, the large
canopy-forming sporophyte and the microscopic gametophyte (Figure 1.2). Specialized
reproductive blades, located just above the holdfast on an adult sporophyte, release
trillions of microscopic spores each year. The spores settle on the bottom and develop
into microscopic “male” and “female” gametophyte plants. Fertilization of the female
gametophyte produces a small sporophyte. This tiny plant will develop into a canopy-
forming adult within 7 to 14 months if it survives competition with other plants, and is not
destroyed by undesirable environmental factors or eaten by grazers.

Status of the Beds
    The density and abundance of kelp canopy varies by location, year, and season.
In central California, natural plant deterioration occurs in late summer and early fall.
Canopies virtually disappear during the late fall and winter, when storms cause frond
and plant loss. Canopies usually begin forming again in the spring, and by summer are

Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                       1-3
Figure 1.2. The life cycle of giant kelp. Foster, M.S. and D.R. Schiel. 1985. The Ecology of Giant Kelp
Forests in California: A Community Profile. Fish and Wildlife Service. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Biological
Report 85(7.2).

quite dense. Off southern California, however, kelp canopies frequently grow
throughout the year in the mild weather conditions. Dense canopies can develop during
the winter, especially during mild years when storms and large swell events are
infrequent.
    The health and long-term survival of giant kelp forests is influenced by a variety
of factors, including storms and climatic events, grazing, competition, sedimentation,
pollution, and disease. These factors can be divided into two different types: naturally
occurring, and human-induced. Southern California’s giant kelp beds are influenced by
both natural and human-induced factors.
    Fluctuations in water temperature influence kelp survival in southern California to
a great extent. South of Point Arguello (Santa Barbara County), in an area called the
Southern California Bight, water temperatures are considerably warmer than for the rest
of the State. The warmer water temperatures in this area tend to negatively affect kelp
survival. Human influences on giant kelp also tend to be greater in southern California
due to the concentration of the State’s population within this region, and associated
pollution and coastal development.
    During the last 30 years, the size, distribution, and location of the kelp canopy
throughout California has fluctuated considerably. An aerial survey conducted in 1967
showed a total of 70 sq. mi. of kelp canopy from around Point Montara (San Mateo

Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                               1-4
County) to the U.S.-Mexico border, with 53.9 sq. mi. of the total in southern California
(Figure 1.3). In southern California, 33 sq. mi. occurred along the mainland coast and
20.9 sq. mi. occurred around the Channel Islands. A survey conducted in 1989
reported 40.7 sq. mi. of kelp canopy along the entire California coast. Of this, 17.5 sq.
mi. were recorded for southern California. The Channel Islands accounted for 9.8 sq.
mi., while the mainland coast of southern California totaled 7.7 sq. mi. During the most
recent statewide kelp forest survey conducted in 1999, a total of 17.8 sq. mi. of giant
kelp canopy was charted along the California coast, with 11.4 sq. mi. off southern
California, including the offshore islands. The 1999 survey showed only 3.7 sq. mi. of
giant kelp canopy along the mainland coast of southern California, and 7.7 sq. mi. off
the Channel Islands.


                      Kelp Forest Densities from Aerial Surveys

              80
  density (square miles)




              70
              60
                                                        1967
              50
              40                                         1989
              30                                         1999
              20
              10
              0
                                             Survey Totals
                                             Survey Totals
                 North  South, mainland  South, Channel  Total South
                               Islands

Figure 1.3. Kelp forest densities from aerial surveys completed in 1967, 1989, and 1999. South refers to
areas south of Point Arguello, and north refers to areas north of Point Arguello.

    The methodology used to conduct photographic aerial surveys is subject to a
high degree of error. During these surveys, infrared film is used to highlight
temperature differences between the kelp canopy at the water’s surface and the
background water temperature. Kelp immediately below the surface is invisible using
this method. Results from these surveys may also vary due to wind waves and local
currents. The degree of error in aerial kelp surveys could be greatly reduced by
conducting surveys more frequently, and by using new technology such as digital multi-
spectral imaging.
    This being said, it is still evident that kelp forests are declining, particularly in
southern California. The decline can be at least partly explained by the warming trend
over the past 20 years and the frequency of severe El Niño events. However, the
warming trend cannot explain differences in kelp canopy distribution between the
Channel Islands and the mainland coast in southern California, since both areas are
likely to experience the same oceanographic conditions in a given year. This suggests
that the change in the relative abundance of kelp in these two areas may be due to
factors other than warming trends.



Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                                   1-5
    During the 1980s and 1990s, many major oceanographic events affected kelp
beds, including an El Niño event from 1982 through 1984, a devastating storm within
that same period, and a large swell event in 1988. Excessive wave action from storms
and surge can break kelp fronds and dislodge entire plants. Dislodged plants can also
become entangled with other, nearby plants, pulling them from the substrate. Two more
El Niño events occurred from 1992 through 1994 and from 1997 through 1998, with the
1992-1994 El Niño event followed by severe storms. The most recent El Niño event,
from 1997 through 1998, was the warmest of the three.
    The warm water and storms associated with the El Niño events destroyed plants,
inhibited kelp growth, and resulted in minimal canopy development throughout southern
California. During the 18-year period from 1981 to 1998, sea surface temperatures
exceeded the previous 60-year mean in all but a single year (1988). In 1967, there
were approximately 18 sq. mi. of kelp canopy near Santa Barbara, compared to only 6
sq. mi. in 1989. When last checked in 2000, the giant kelp forests that had been
anchored in sand substrate near Santa Barbara had not returned.
    Fishes such as opaleye and halfmoon regularly graze upon kelp. These fish can
damage kelp forests when present in large numbers, especially when conditions are
unfavorable for kelp growth. Invertebrates such as sea urchins, amphipods, isopods,
and crabs also graze on kelp and may cause damage. The removal of the southern sea
otter from southern California eliminated a major predator on sea urchins, and changed
the balance of predator-prey relationships in the kelp bed community.
    In addition, intensive fishing for some of the remaining sea urchin predators, such
as California sheephead and California spiny lobster, and fishing for sea urchin
competitors such as abalone has significantly altered the sea urchin population
dynamics in kelp forests. Sea urchin populations increased exponentially in some areas
and overgrazed the kelp, creating areas referred to as “urchin barrens.”
    Human activities may also influence the health and distribution of kelp beds.
Human-caused disturbances include pollution, sedimentation, wastewater discharge
and thermal (warm-water) discharge. Sedimentation of the rocky bottom can retard kelp
growth and even bury young plants, preventing development and reproduction.
Pollution can affect kelp forests in a variety of ways. Industrial and domestic
wastewater discharges carry toxins such as pesticides and heavy metals, which can
accumulate in nearshore sediments. Chemicals such as these alter the physical and
chemical environment near the discharge site, and may decrease the growth and
survival of kelp forests. Thermal discharges from power plants can have localized
effects on kelp forests. Wastewater and thermal discharges can increase turbidity and
redistribute sediments into nearby kelp forests, affecting kelp growth and survival. A
variety of pathogens are known to affect kelp, but their broad impacts on kelp forests
have not been studied. While tumors, galls, and lesions have been observed on kelp,
only occasionally have they caused severe damage.
    Short- and long-term declines and, in one case, the complete disappearance of a
kelp bed in southern California have been associated with human activity. An extensive
kelp bed, known as Horseshoe Kelp Bed, existed off the coast of what is now Los
Angeles Harbor prior to the 1920s. The bed reportedly measured a quarter-mile to a
half-mile wide, and two miles long. A DFG Information Bulletin reported interviews with
“old-time fishermen” who recalled that the kelp bed began to decline during the 1920s

Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                      1-6
and 1930s. During this time period, the main channel and West Basin of Los Angeles
Harbor was widened, and an entire island (Deadman’s Island) was removed by
dredging. Some fishermen recalled that the White’s Point Sewer Outfall, which began
discharging in 1934, was associated with the disappearance of the last remnants of this
bed. The Horseshoe Kelp Bed grew in water 80 to 90 ft deep. While kelp still
commonly grows at this depth off the Channel Islands, kelp does not grow at this depth
along the southern California mainland coast today. Several years of decline in kelp
beds near Salt Creek in Orange County and Barn Kelp Bed near Las Pulgas Canyon
(off Camp Pendleton Marine Base) in San Diego County were associated with extensive
grading of land around drainages adjacent to those beds.
    The most thoroughly documented decline of giant kelp beds from human-induced
causes was associated with the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in northern San
Diego County. The discharge of heated and turbid cooling water caused the loss of
approximately 150 acres of kelp. This single event was the only instance where
damage to California kelp beds was documented well enough for mitigation to be
required as compensation for the loss.
    In the 1950s and 1960s, once-productive kelp forests off Point Loma and La Jolla
(San Diego County) and along the Palos Verdes Peninsula (Los Angeles County) began
to deteriorate. This, too, was attributed to biological and physical factors related
primarily to human activities. Currently, there are several areas where the status of kelp
is of concern, including the entire coastline of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, the
Malibu coast in Los Angeles County, portions of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the coast
between Newport and Laguna Beach in Orange County, and San Onofre, south
Carlsbad and La Jolla in San Diego County. Other kelp losses have undoubtedly
occurred as a direct result of human activities along the southern California coastline,
but the lack of strong baseline data prevents resource agencies from proving damages
and seeking compensation. The development of a computerized Geographic
Information System (GIS) that links known discharge and coastal development sites to
aerial photographs of kelp canopies may provide effective tools to document and
analyze such damage.

Kelp Restoration
    In 1963, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Kelco Company began to
develop techniques to protect and restore kelp forests off San Diego. Sea urchin
control was achieved by crushing or spreading lime on urchins, and transplanting kelp.
Later experimentation between 1991 and 1992 involved feeding urchins along a front to
discourage feeding on attached plants, and increasing urchin reproduction so that
commercial harvesting could be encouraged. These methods appear to have
succeeded in restoring kelp beds off San Diego. However, there are indications that the
urchin fronts will redevelop when these labor-intensive efforts cease. This drawback
calls into question the long-term benefits of any one-time restoration effort, as well as
the economic feasibility of such an effort as a long-term solution covering a broad area.
    Between 1967 and 1980, kelp restoration was conducted along the Palos Verdes
Peninsula by the Institute of Marine Resources and the DFG. This work combined sea
urchin control and kelp transplanting, with the objective of establishing several small
stands of kelp that would provide seed stock for new and expanding beds. In 1974, the

Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                      1-7
first naturally expanding kelp stand in 20 years was observed off the Palos Verdes
Peninsula. By 1980, when restoration work was discontinued, the stand had developed
into a kelp bed covering nearly 600 acres. In 1989, aerial surveys found over 1,100
acres of kelp off the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Two subsequent El Niño events have
severely decreased the size of these beds, however.
    Kelp restoration work has also been conducted in storm-damaged areas off
Santa Barbara and Orange Counties. Shortly after the 1982-1984 El Niño event, Kelco
Company began developing techniques for restoring kelp beds in Santa Barbara
County. In 1987, under contract with DFG, Kelco Company began anchoring giant kelp
in the sandy habitat near Santa Barbara. Several kelp forest nuclei were established;
however, sea urchin grazing and unfavorable water conditions impeded progress. By
the early 1990s, this restoration attempt had failed.
    Loss of Orange County kelp forests from Newport Harbor south to San Mateo
Point was caused by urchin grazing, by heavy rainfall and siltation in 1980, and by the
1982-1984 El Niño event. Under contract with DFG, the MBC Applied Environmental
Sciences Company established kelp forest nuclei from Laguna Beach north to Newport
Harbor. Despite transplanting adult and juvenile giant kelp and keeping sea urchin
populations under control, the beds north of Laguna Beach never recovered. The kelp
forests south of Laguna Beach, however, recovered naturally after a few years.
    In 1992, the DFG Artificial Reef Program built a ten-acre reef, around 3 ft in
height, outside the harbor entrance channel to Mission Bay (San Diego County). The
reef was constructed of broken slabs of concrete from nearby roadway demolition. By
1993 a kelp bed had become established on the reef without human assistance. This
bed has persisted at least through the spring of 2000.
    During the fall of 1999, the Southern California Edison Company built a 22-acre
experimental reef off the City of San Clemente (Orange County) to mitigate damage that
the San Onofre Nuclear Power Station had inflicted on local kelp beds. The experiment
has had tremendous success as of spring 2003, with thick kelp canopies covering all of
the experimental modules. The reef will be expanded to a minimum of 150 acres after
the 5-year experimental phase is completed. It appears that the creation of new reef
substrate may be a valuable mechanism for kelp bed expansion throughout southern
California.

Management Considerations
    For the purpose of management, the kelp beds off California represent more than
just a single species of interest; they represent an important nearshore ecosystem.
Giant kelp forests provide essential habitat for a diverse assemblage of marine fishes
and invertebrates, and their loss would reduce the populations of many marine species.
Kelp forests are not only important to sport fishermen, commercial fishermen, and kelp
harvesters; they are also important to recreational divers, photographers, and tourists
who value them for aesthetic reasons.
    During the latter half of the twentieth century, California kelp forests (especially in
the south) have been subjected to increasing environmental stress. Warm water El
Niño events apply naturally caused stress. Other environmental stress is clearly the
result of human activity. Human-caused environmental stress is brought about by
pollution and sedimentation from power plants, sewage discharge, and coastal

Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                        1-8
development practices. While the causes of decline are complex and masked by
seasonal fluctuations, it is generally agreed that there is now much less kelp along the
southern California coast than there was when DFG first began conducting surveys in
the early 1900s.
    At least three areas of management offer some hope for reversing this trend of
decline:

    •  Large numbers of sea urchins can damage kelp forests. DFG may consider
      applying more stringent limits on the take of sea urchin predators, such as
      California sheephead and California spiny lobster. The southern sea otter
      may eventually return to its southern California habitat, but whether this will,
      or should be allowed, to happen is highly controversial.
    •  Coast-wide photographic flights should be conducted at least annually
      (preferably quarterly or biannually, during canopy maximum and minimum).
      The causes for the apparent declines in kelp beds, particularly in southern
      California, cannot be thoroughly analyzed or understood without a better time
      series of data. Once gathered, the data should be incorporated into a
      statewide GIS. A similar database should be instituted for coastal
      development. This information should be available through the California
      Coastal Commission, since all coastal development requires a permit from
      the Commission. Once established, the GIS should be frequently reviewed
      for evidence of kelp bed damage tied to onshore activities.
    •  Provide additional substrate (constructed reefs) over widespread areas for
      establishment of new kelp beds. These may also serve as sources of giant
      kelp spores for re-establishment of former, natural kelp communities.


                                       Dennis Bedford
                           California Department of Fish and Game

                                      Revised May 2002
                                       by John O’Brien
                           California Department of Fish and Game


Further Reading
California State Lands Commission. 1999. Final Program Environmental Impact Report for the
  Construction and Management of an Artificial Reef in the Pacific Ocean near San Clemente,
  California.
McPeak, RH and DA Glantz. 1984. Harvesting California’s kelp forests. Oceanus. 27(1)19-26.
North, WJ. 1992. Review of Macrocystis Biology. In: Biology of Economic Seaweeds. I. Akatsuka
  (editor).
Schott, J. Dago Bank and its Horseshoe Kelp bed. California Department of Fish and Game, Marine
  Resources Information Bulletin, No. 2. 1976.




Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                          1-9
Table 1.1. Commercial landings (tons) of giant kelp, 1916-2001
Year    Tons     Year   Tons   Year    Tons    Year  Tons   Year     Tons
      134,537        21,622        100,602      131,495         46,479
1916          1933        1950          1967       1984
      394,974        15,880        114,760      134,853         87,300
1917          1934        1951          1968       1985
      395,098        30,602        110,158      131,239         56,832
1918          1935        1952          1969       1986
       16,673        49,317        126,649      127,039         93,264
1919          1936        1953          1970       1987
       25,464        43,954        106,215      155,559         90,615
1920          1937        1954          1971       1988
        ------       47,697        124,063      162,511         132,761
1921          1938        1955          1972       1989
        ------       56,736        117,815      153,080         151,439
1922          1939        1956          1973       1990
        ------       59,004         94,207      170,181         127,505
1923          1940        1957          1974       1991
        ------       55,717        114,062      171,597         91,247
1924          1941        1958          1975       1992
        ------       61,898         89,599      158,371         92,940
1925          1942        1959          1976       1993
        ------       47,958        120,300      130,597         81,006
1926          1943        1960          1977       1994
        ------       53,030        129,256      169,029         77,753
1927          1944        1961          1978       1995
        ------       59,181        140,233      171,020         78,461
1928          1945        1962          1979       1996
        ------       91,069        121,032      147,636         73,165
1929          1946        1963          1980       1997
        ------       74,237        127,254       73,064         25,313
1930          1947        1964          1981       1998
        260        78,641        135,129       86,503         42,211
1931          1948        1965          1982       1999
       10,315        83,346        119,464       5,271         41,943
1932          1949        1966          1983       2000
                                                  40,116
                                           2001
------ Landings data not available from 1921 to 1930.
1. Data source: Kelp Harvester's Monthly Report (logbook).
2. Kelp landings consist primarily of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera).




Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                            1-10
                    2. BULL KELP

Overview of Use and Harvest
     Bull kelp, Nereocystis luetkeana, has commercial and recreational value as a
harvestable resource, intrinsic value as habitat and food for hundreds of species in the
nearshore ecosystem, and aesthetic value for non-consumptive users such as scuba
divers. Because of the multiple uses of bull kelp, management concerns are much
more complex than for most species.
     Until the late 1980s, there was little targeted harvest of bull kelp in California
except as a small component of the localized edible seaweed industry. In central
California, bull kelp and giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera, often occupy the same beds. It
is likely that bull kelp is incidentally harvested in these beds, although no separate
records are kept of bull kelp harvest. Department of Fish and Game (DFG) records
indicate that between 1993 and 1999 about 19 tons of kelp, probably a mixture of bull
kelp and giant kelp, were harvested from bed 302 in the Bodega Bay/Tomales Bay area
(Marin County) and used by local abalone culturists. The bull kelp’s thick, central stalk
(called the stipe) is pickled and marketed as a specialty food product, and the dried
parts are used for arts and crafts. In southern Oregon, bull kelp was harvested from
Orford Reef in the mid-1990s for use in liquid fertilizer (the Oregon Division of State
Lands no longer permits this harvest).
     California’s kelp bed management strategy has been largely passive, with effort
spent on giant kelp restoration and intermittent aerial surveys of the giant kelp canopy.
The Fish and Game Code (§6654) gives the Commission authority to close a kelp bed
to harvest for up to one year if it is determined that the bed is being damaged.
However, the information necessary for sustained-yield management—regular and
formal stock assessments of the State’s kelp resources—has been largely unavailable.
     In 1996 the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) developed a “300 series”
numbering system for all the kelp beds north of San Francisco and established a kelp
bed leasing program similar to the program for giant kelp in central and southern
California. Before 1996 no such program existed, and any northern kelp bed could be
harvested for commercial purposes.
     In anticipation of increasing demand for large-scale harvest of the northern
California bull kelp resource, the Commission acted in a precautionary manner in 1996
by closing beds 303 through 307 to future commercial harvest. The Commission also
required limiting the remaining beds in the 300 series to a maximum harvest of 15% of
the biomass as determined by a DFG-approved annual survey conducted by the lessee.
In 2001, the Commission provided further protection for the bull kelp resource by
adopting a new suite of regulations that:

    •  Closed beds 301, 302, 310, and 311
    •  Restricted the harvest from April 1 through July 31 within the boundary of the
      Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
    •  Required a harvester to have a Commission-approved harvest plan prior to
      taking kelp with a mechanical harvester in open beds north of Santa Rosa
      Creek (San Luis Obispo County)


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Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
The Commission can also respond more quickly to potential resource concerns by
designating open beds, or portions thereof, as harvest control areas where harvest is
limited for a specified period of time. These regulations have created a de facto bull
kelp reserve along much of the northern California coastline, protecting essential kelp
bed habitat for resident species such as heavily-exploited sea urchins and abalones.
    As of 2002, only three of the State’s 13 beds that mostly contain bull kelp were
open to harvest. Of these three, only one is currently leased, with one firm harvesting
significant quantities of bull kelp. Since leasing the bed, the firm’s peak harvest has
been 149 tons, with only 11 and 44 tons landed in 2000 and 2001, respectively. This
low harvest rate is due to a reduced demand for kelp and is not indicative of the
resource available in the area.

Status of Biological Knowledge
     Bull kelp is primarily found adjacent to exposed shorelines along the Pacific coast
of North America, ranging from Unalaska Island, Alaska to Point Conception, California
(Santa Barbara County). Along the central California coast, giant kelp and bull kelp
occur together, forming extensive kelp forests. However, from the Monterey Bay area
northward to Alaska, bull kelp becomes the dominant canopy kelp species in coastal
waters. Within the nearshore environment, bull kelp, like giant kelp, is associated with
hard substrates at depths of approximately 10 to 70 ft, where it provides habitat and
food for hundreds of species, many of them commercially and recreationally valuable.
     Distribution of marine algae is restricted by the availability of hard substrate and
a number of other factors within the nearshore environment, including water movement,
light, temperature, nutrients, pollution, competition, and predation. The complex feeding
interactions among sea otters, larger kelp grazers and kelp have been documented by a
number of researchers. Generally, sea otter predation on invertebrate kelp grazers
such as abalone limits the population of these grazers in a kelp forest community,
thereby increasing kelp productivity. In northern California, where sea otters are
absent, commercial and sport fishermen have significantly reduced populations of sea
urchins and abalone, which are two major kelp grazers. Although kelp populations off
California generally seem to have increased, the competition among marine plants for
space and light makes it impossible to determine the specific impacts of grazer
populations on bull kelp.
     The appearance of bull kelp is quite different from that of giant kelp. The most
notable difference is that bull kelp possess only one gas-filled flotation bladder (called a
pneumatocyst) located on the end of the hollow stipe. In contrast, giant kelp have many
such bladders running the entire length of the kelp. The bull kelp’s pneumatocyst
typically bears from 30 to 64 blades, which resemble long, flat leaves. This canopy of
blades provides most of the photosynthetic and nutrient-absorbing surface for energy
production. Blade lengths of more than 13 ft have been reported for mature kelp, but it
is typical to find a range of blade sizes (from 2 to 11 ft).
     Although both giant kelp and bull kelp are attached to the substrate by holdfasts
(root-like growths) the size of the holdfast is much smaller in bull kelp. Bull kelp stipes
can reach lengths of up to 130 ft. The bull kelp’s stipe does not have the same tensile
strength as giant kelp’s, but it is more elastic under stress. The bull kelp stipe can
stretch more than 38% of its length before breaking.

                                           2-2
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
    Reproduction in bull kelp undergoes a cyclic alternation of generations similar to
that of other kelp and other algae in the order Laminariales. The large plant commonly
referred to as bull kelp represents the spore-producing (or sporophytic) generation,
while the gamete-producing (or gametophytic) generation is microscopic. Bull kelp
reproductive structures (called sporangia) are located on the blades of sporophytic
plants in aggregations called sori. Mature sori are located in patches near the tip of the
blade, and immature sori are located near the base of the blade. Production of spores
within the sori usually begins several weeks after the blades reach the surface. As the
spores mature during the summer and fall, the sori are shed from the blades and the
spores released. They germinate upon settlement, and over the course of several
weeks develop into gametophytic plants. After about 11 weeks, sperm and eggs are
released from “male” and “female” gametophytic plants, and fertilization takes place.
The resulting young plants (termed zygotes) grow into tall, familiar, sporophytic bull
kelp. Once the plant reaches the surface, stipe and blade elongation rates decrease
while the weight, or biomass, of the kelp increases.
    As an annual plant, bull kelp has evolved an optimal reproductive strategy that
involves accelerated stipe growth to reach the ocean surface where it can initiate spore
production and release. Kelp that begins growing in late March may develop sori prior
to reaching the surface in May, and can release spores as early as June. Maximum bull
kelp growth occurs under optimal light, nutrient and water clarity levels. Bull kelp stipes
can grow up to 5 in. per day, while blades may grow up to about 3.5 in. per day just
prior to reaching the surface. The holdfasts of mature bull kelp can grow an average of
about 0.2 in. per day.
    The biggest factor in the growth of bull kelp is the availability and quantity of light.
Light levels below the surface canopy have been shown to decrease by almost 100%;
below secondary canopy, light levels are well below the minimum level necessary for
growth. Thus, in established kelp communities there can be insufficient light and hard
substrate available for recruitment and growth of new bull kelp plants.
    Bull kelp is an opportunistic colonizer that takes advantage of substrate clearing
caused by storms, sand scouring, and other disturbances. While bull kelp can rapidly
colonize a newly-cleared location, its longevity as the dominant canopy-forming species
depends on environmental conditions that favor it over major competitors.
    Water temperature also plays an important role in the growth of bull kelp. Mean
sea surface temperatures over the kelp’s distributional range vary from a high of 59° F
off southern California to a low of 39° F off the Aleutian Islands. The introduction of
unusually warm water can have a negative effect on bull kelp. For example, the bull
kelp population in Diablo Cove (San Luis Obispo County) has been adversely affected
by the warm water discharge from the Diablo Canyon power plant, which began in
1985. Plants in contact with the discharge experienced deterioration of blade tissue,
which resulted in early death. This observation helps to explain the decline of bull kelp
that occurs during El Niño events.

Status of the Beds
   The kelp resources of the eastern Pacific coast, from the Gulf of Alaska to
Cedros Island, Baja California, were first mapped in 1912. Subsequent surveys along
the central coast of California between Point Montara (San Mateo County) and Point

                                            2-3
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Conception (Santa Barbara County) have not differentiated between bull kelp and giant
kelp. Since the first survey in 1912, little work has been done along the north coast of
California, primarily due to the absence of the more valuable giant kelp in this region. A
1967 kelp survey from Point Montara to the U.S.-Mexico border did not differentiate
between bull kelp and giant kelp, and did not extend far north into the preferred bull kelp
habitat. Current knowledge of the population levels of bull kelp off the north coast is
based on 1989 and 1999 surveys of the California coast, and information provided by a
kelp harvester in the Crescent City area (Del Norte County).
    Despite the high spatial and temporal variability in bull kelp coverage, both the
1912 and the 1989 surveys estimated approximately 6.5 sq. mi. of canopy north of Point
Montara. The 1999 survey, however, indicated a sharp drop in canopy coverage in
most beds north of Point Montara, which may be attributed to several factors. The
apparent decline may be due in part to the timing of the 1999 survey, which was
conducted after a major storm had passed through the region, destroying portions of the
kelp beds. Also, improved interpretation methods for aerial photographs probably
resulted in more accurate estimates of kelp canopy coverage in 1999. Comparing the
estimates from these latest surveys with previous surveys raises questions about the
accuracy of previous canopy estimates, which may have been too great. An additional
consideration is that kelp bed coverage and density naturally varies from year to year.
    The 1912 survey estimated that about 32% of the 17.55 sq. mi. kelp canopy in
central California was bull kelp. Recent surveys have not been undertaken to estimate
the proportion of bull kelp in central California kelp beds. In central California, bull kelp
is generally restricted to areas unsuitable for giant kelp such as the outer edges of giant
kelp beds and within the surge zone. However, following winter storms with heavy
wave disturbance, bull kelp can become more abundant as it replaces the giant kelp
removed by the storms. The DFG has recently acquired new technology which will
hopefully allow biologists to more accurately differentiate between bull kelp and giant
kelp in aerial images.
    Kelp abundance has changed in various locations over time. For example,
during the period from 1975 to 1982, the amount of bull kelp at Diablo Cove declined
from 200 tons per acre to 4.8 tons per acre. In the Crescent City area, peak
abundances ranged from 24 to 28 tons per acre from 1994 to 1996. South of Fort
Bragg (Mendocino County), bull kelp beds decreased sharply from 1989 to 1999,
whereas beds north of Fort Bragg increased sharply. The Fort Bragg area kelp beds
appeared to increase in size and density between 1985 and 1988 based on aerial
photographic surveys of the area. Bull kelp beds were thought to have reached their
maximum potential during this period. The increase coincided with the removal of over
32,500 tons of red sea urchins from areas off Mendocino and Sonoma Counties by
commercial divers. In 1992, the same beds showed delayed and reduced kelp
recruitment and growth. The causes of the poor recruitment in 1992 may have been
associated with the El Niño event of that year. These examples illustrate the kind of
fluctuations that occur in the recruitment of bull kelp along the north coast and the
factors that may play a role in the variability of the resource.




                                           2-4
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Management Considerations
    The DFG conducted a review of the commercial and sport bull kelp “fisheries” in
2000 and 2001, and recommended a number of management changes for the
commercial fishery. The Commission adopted a new suite of regulations in 2001 based
on the DFG review and public comments; these regulations are described in the
“Overview of Use and Harvest” section. Other management measures that should be
considered to ensure a productive future for California’s bull kelp resource and the
species dependent on it include:

    •  Minimizing local impacts by modifying the present 15% harvest limit on the
      lease-only 300-series beds to require distribution of the harvest throughout
      the bed
    •  Prohibiting harvest of bull kelp in beds where the bull kelp resource has been
      chronically diminished during the past several decades
    •  Encouraging the use of alternative feeds, such as those already developed
      for cultured species such as red abalone
    •  Conducting at least one annual statewide aerial survey, preferably during the
      late summer, to document abundance and distribution of kelp canopy
    •  Conducting research to examine the impacts of various harvest strategies on
      kelp abundance, distribution and long-term stability


                                 Pete Kalvass and Mary Larson
                            California Department of Fish and Game

                                       Revised May 2002
                                        by John O’Brien
                            California Department of Fish and Game


Further Reading
Amsler, CD and M Neushul. 1989. Diel periodicity of spore release from the kelp Nereocystis luetkeana
  (Mertens) Postels et ruprecht. J. Exp. Mar. Bio. Ecol. 134:117–127.
Calif. Dept. of Fish and Game. 2001. Final Environmental Document – Giant and Bull Kelp Commercial
  and Sport Fishing Regulations - Section 30 and 165, Title 14, California Code of Regulations. March
  2001.
Estes, JA and DO Duggins. 1995. Sea otters and kelp forests in Alaska: Generality and variation in a
  community ecological paradigm. Ecological Monographs 65(1):75-100.
Foreman, RE 1984. Studies on Nereocystis growth in British Columbia, Canada. Hydrobiologia
  116/117:325–332.
Foster, MS and DR Schiel. 1985. The ecology of giant kelp forests in California: a community profile.
  Biological Report 85(7:2). USFWS. 152 pp.
Nicholson, NL 1970. Field studies of the giant kelp Nereocystis. Journal of Phycology 6:177-182.
Vadas, RL 1972. Ecological implications of culture studies on Nereocystis luetkeana. J. Phycol. 8:196–
  203.




                                                2-5
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
                    3. SEA PALM

Overview of Use and Harvest
    The sea palm, Postelsia palmaeformis, is a brown alga first described by Franz
Joseph Ruprecht in 1852 from specimens collected near Bodega Bay (Sonoma
County). Although it is illegal to harvest sea palm for recreational use, it is an important
component of the commercial harvest of edible seaweed. Edible seaweed harvesting is
a cottage industry which began in the late 1970s. Within the last several years, demand
for edible seaweed has increased, particularly for sea palm fronds. In 2001, there were
four licensed edible seaweed harvesters who actively harvested sea palm. Currently,
edible seaweed landings are not recorded by species; however, it is estimated that
between 2 and 3 tons of sea palm were taken in both 2000 and 2001.
    Sea palm is harvested primarily in Mendocino County using small cutting
instruments. It is consumed raw, or is dried and sold in health food stores and Asian
markets. Dried sea palm blades are used in soups and salads, and typically sell for $24
to $30 per lb.
    Regulatory authority over marine plants has been granted to the Fish and Game
Commission (Commission) by the Legislature. Current regulations require that edible
seaweed harvesters purchase an annual license for $100, pay a royalty rate to the State
of $24 per wet ton of algae harvested, and submit a monthly harvest log containing the
wet weight and location of each harvest.

Status of Biological Knowledge
    Sea palm is an annual kelp that thrives in exposed coastal locations. It is
abundant in upper to mid-tidal zones from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
to Morro Bay, California (San Luis Obispo County), but is restricted to rocks exposed to
heavy surf and high disturbance. Sea palms are usually found in dense aggregations.
Adult spore-producing plants (called sporophytes) can grow to 2 ft tall and possess up
to 100 leaf-like blades. They begin producing spores in early spring. The sea palm
appears to have a limited ability to form new beds, and most dispersal seems to occur
over distances of 3 to 16 ft.
    Several studies have documented the sea palm’s relationship to its unique
habitat. The sea palm is unusual because it tolerates—indeed, depends on— heavy
surf, and because of its association with the California mussel, Mytilus californicus. It
often colonizes new rocky areas when objects such as logs and other debris strike and
dislodge the competitive, dominant mussel. Although there is little known about the
reproduction and genetic structure of the sea palm, it is thought that individuals within a
cluster are siblings, and that distinguishable populations are present along the coast.
Research is under way to determine whether genetic connections exist among
populations in different coastal areas.

Status of the Beds
   Although individuals can regenerate blades, they cannot survive when cut near
the base of the stem-like portion of the plant (called the stipe). Cutting the stipe prior to
spore production and release can negatively impact recruitment and threaten local
populations. Fortunately, most harvesters use the blade-cut method, which provides for

                                           3-1
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
multiple harvests during the spring and summer growing season and can provide for
spore production and release.
    Sea palms cannot tolerate heavy harvesting pressure due to their restricted
habitat, short life span, local dispersal, and limited powers of regeneration. Although
many stands of sea palm are difficult to access, others are in or adjacent to recreational
areas where they are at risk from human disturbance. Public education and outreach is
the best defense for the conservation of this charismatic and ecologically interesting
alga.

Management Considerations
   Public education and outreach is the best defense for the conservation of this
charismatic and ecologically interesting alga. The primary management measures that
should be considered at this time involve improving the documentation of sea palm
harvest, and of other species of algae harvested by the edible seaweed fishery. This
can be accomplished by:

    •  Modifying the monthly harvest log (Kelp Harvester’s Monthly Report) to
      include the weight of each species harvested, the nearest landmark or easily
      recognizable permanent feature, and the Fish and Game Block number
      where harvesting occurred.
    •  Compiling and analyzing logbook information annually to monitor trends in
      species composition and total take.


                                         Kathy Ann Miller
                                  University of Southern California

                                       Revised May 2002
                                        by John O’Brien
                             California Department of Fish and Game


Further Reading
Blanchette, C. 1996. Seasonal patterns of disturbance influence recruitment of the sea palm, Postelsia
  palmaeformis. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 197: 1-14.
Coyer, J. 1997 Genetic variability and spatial separation in the sea palm, Postelsia palmaeformis. J.
  Phyco. 33: 561-568.
Dayton, P. 1973. Dispersion, dispersal, and persistence of the annual intertidal alga, Postelsia
  palmaeformis Ruprecht. Ecology 54: 433-438.
Holbrook, M, M Denny and M Koehl. 1991. Intertidal "trees": consequences of aggregation on the
  mechanical and photosynthetic properties of sea-palms. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 146: 39-67.
Kalvass, P. 1994. The effect of different harvest methods on sea palm sporophyll growth. Calif. Fish and
  Game 80: 57-67.
Kusumo, HC, Pfister, C, and T Wootton. 2001. Genetic variability and structure in populations of the kelp
  Postelsia palmaeformis. Journal of Phycology 37(s3): 29-29.
Paine, R. 1988. Habitat suitability and local population persistence of the sea palm, Postelsia
  palmaeformis. Ecology 69:1787-1794.



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Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
                          4. CALIFORNIA SPINY LOBSTER

Overview of the Fishery
     In California waters, the spiny lobster, Panulirus interruptus, occurs in shallow,
rocky coastal areas from Point Conception (Santa Barbara County) to the U.S.-Mexico
border, and off southern California islands and banks.
    Lobster fishing season runs from early October to mid-March. More lobster is
taken by the commercial and sport fisheries in October than in any other month. Effort
and landings drop sharply in January, and continue to decline through mid-March when
the season ends.
    Currently, most of the lobsters landed in the commercial fishery weigh between
1.25 and 2.0 lb. Lobsters in this weight range produce the tail size desired by the export
market and restaurant trade. Lobster fishermen are paid between $6.75 and $8.00 per
lb for their catch, most of which is exported to French and Asian markets. However,
depressed markets overseas have resulted in efforts to re-establish domestic markets.
    Southern California has supported a spiny lobster fishery since the late 1800s.
At that time, spiny lobsters weighed between 3.5 and 4 lb on average, and were so
abundant that a single person could catch 500 lb in just two hours. By 1900, legislation
was enacted to protect dwindling spiny lobster stocks. A closed season and a size limit
were instituted, and take of egg-bearing females was prohibited. Despite legislation,
abundance continued to decline. As a result, the fishery was closed for two years (1909
and 1910). When the fishery re-opened in 1911, spiny lobsters were once again
abundant. From 1916 until 1942, annual landings were generally in the 200,000 to
400,000 lb range (Figure 4.1 and Table 4.1).


                    Commercial Landings of California Spiny Lobster, 1916-2001
  thousands of pounds landed




                1000

                800

                600

                400

                200

                 0
                 1910   1920  1930  1940  1950  1960  1970  1980  1990  2000

Figure 4.1. Annual (calendar year) commercial landings (pounds) of California spiny lobster from 1916 to
2001. Data from California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Catch Bulletins (1916-1983) and the
DFG commercial landing receipt database (1984-2001).




                                                   4-1
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
    Following World War II, seasonal landings increased, peaking in the 1949-1950
season at a record 1.05 million lb (Figure 4.2). A general decline followed for 25
seasons, reaching a low of 152,000 lb for the 1974-1975 season. After this poor
season, landings increased for four seasons (from the 1975-1976 season through the
1978-1979 season), and then remained between 400,000 and 500,000 lb per season
through the 1987-1988 season. From the 1987-1988 season to the 2000-2001 season,
landings have ranged from a low of 510,000 lb (1999-2000 season) to a peak of
970,000 lb (1997-1998 season). Increases and declines in landings are not unexpected
in the lobster fishery, which is strongly influenced by weather, El Niño and La Niña
events, and the export market.


                         Seasonal Commercial Landings of California Spiny Lobster
  thousands of pounds landed




                1,200
                1,000
                 800
                 600
                 400
                 200
                  0
                    1935-36


                           1940-41


                                1945-46


                                     1950-51


                                          1955-56


                                               1960-61


                                                    1965-66


                                                         1970-71


                                                              1975-76


                                                                   1980-81


                                                                        1985-86


                                                                             1990-91


                                                                                  1995-96


                                                                                        2000-01
Figure 4.2. Commercial landings (pounds) of California spiny lobster by season (early October to mid-
March) from the 1935-1936 season to the 2000-2001 season. Data sources are California Department of
Fish and Game Catch Bulletins.

    Each lobster fisherman typically uses from 100 to 500 traps, although some
fishermen may use as many as 750 traps at the peak of the season. Lobster traps are
box-like devices usually constructed of heavy wire mesh, although other materials (such
as plastic) may be used. Traps are baited with whole or cut fish, and placed on the sea
floor using cement, bricks, or steel as ballast. Each trap is marked with a buoy bearing
the fisherman’s license number followed by a “P”.
    High speed boats from 20 to 40 ft in length are popular in the fishery, but boats
range in size from 15 ft skiffs to 50 ft vessels. Most lobster boats are equipped with a
davit and hydraulics to pull traps from the water, and sophisticated electronic equipment
that allows fishermen to find good lobster habitat and locate their traps. Traps are
usually fished along depth contours in water less than 100 ft in depth, or clustered
around rocky outcrops. Some marine-life refuges and reserves do not allow the take of
lobster; in addition, commercial lobster traps are prohibited in certain parts of Santa
Catalina Island, Santa Monica Bay and Newport Bay. Fishermen set traps closer to
shore when the season opens, and farther from shore, at depths of up to 300 ft, by
season’s end.



                                                                                       4-2
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
  A number of management measures have been enacted to protect the resource.
Commercial fishery management measures include:

    •  A size limit of 3.25 in. carapace length (CL), measured from the rear edge of
      the eye socket to the rear edge of the body shell. The minimum size limit
      ensures the existence of several year-classes of younger broodstock, even if
      all legal-size lobsters are caught each season.
    •  The commercial lobster fishery runs from early October through mid-March.
      The closed season from early spring to early fall protects egg-carrying
      females and molting lobsters.
    •  Lobster traps must have a destruct device that is approved by the Department
      of Fish and Game (DFG) to ensure that lost or abandoned traps do not
      continue to capture marine life indefinitely.
    •  Lobster traps must have escape ports (measuring 2.38 in. x 11.5 in.). Escape
      ports effectively minimize the retention of undersized lobsters, and have been
      required since the 1976-1977 season. The escape port has been credited
      with reversing downward trends in landings prior to 1976.
    •  A restricted access program (see following sub-section).

   Lobster fishermen are required to possess operator permits ($265), and
deckhands must have lobster crewmember permits ($125).
   Divers take most of the lobsters in the recreational fishery. Some commercial
passenger fishing vessels schedule special recreational dive trips during lobster
season. The total recreational take of spiny lobster is unknown. Recreational fishery
management measures that protect this resource include:

    •  A size limit of 3.25 in. CL. The minimum size limit ensures that there will be
      several year-classes of younger broodstock, even if all legal-size lobsters are
      caught each season.
    •  The recreational fishery for lobster runs from early October through mid-
      March, same as the commercial season. The closed season protects egg-
      carrying females and molting lobsters.
    •  Recreational fishermen must possess a valid sport-fishing license with an
      ocean enhancement stamp.
    •  Skin and scuba divers may only use bare (or gloved) hands to take lobster.
      No fish spears, short hooked poles, or similar appliances may be used to
      remove lobsters from crevices and caves. Baited hoop nets may also be
      used to take lobster. South of Point Arguello (Santa Barbara County) no
      more than five hoop nets may be fished per person, and no more than 10
      may be fished from any boat.
    •  Divers may take seven lobsters per day (reduced from 10 lobsters in 1971).
    •  Some marine reserves and conservation areas prohibit the take of lobster.




                                           4-3
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Restricted Access Program
    A permit system for the commercial take of spiny lobster began in 1961, but no
limit was placed on the number of permits that could be issued. In 1986, the State
Legislature granted the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) the authority to limit
the number of permits to prevent overfishing or to ensure efficient and economic
operation of the fishery. The restricted access program for spiny lobster was initiated in
1996.

               Historical timeline for the California spiny lobster restricted access program
  1961            State Legislature requires a permit for the commercial take of California spiny lobster. The
               Legislature also delegates authority to the Fish and Game Commission for managing the
               fishery.
  1986            State Legislature gives the Fish and Game Commission authority to limit the number of
               permits.
  1994            The Fish and Game Commission places a moratorium on new permits.
  1996            Restricted access program begins.


    The program currently provides for two types of permits: a restricted access
lobster operator permit and an unrestricted lobster crewmember permit. A lobster
operator permit, which is non-transferable, is required for the commercial take of spiny
lobster. A lobster crewmember permit is required to assist an operator. Any licensed
fisherman may buy a lobster crewmember permit; however, an operator permit is only
issued to fishermen who held a permit in the previous season.


                       Lobster Operator Permits, 1980-2001

            500
                                                Moratorium on new permits
  Number of permits




            400                                     Restricted access
                                                  begins
            300

            200

            100

            0
               1980  1982   1984  1986   1988  1990  1992  1994  1996   1998   2000
                              License year (April 1-March 31)

Figure 4.3. Number of lobster operator permits issued for the commercial California spiny lobster fishery
from the 1980-1981 season to the 2001-2002 season. A permit was required beginning in 1961, and the
restricted access program began in 1996. Data sources are the California Department of Fish and Game
license reports.




                                                            4-4
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
    The capacity goal (upper limit of fishing capacity) was 225 fishermen (or lobster
operator permits) from September 1996 until February 2003. Attrition was the primary
means for achieving the capacity goal. The number of permits has decreased since the
program’s inception (Figure 4.3). For the 2001-2002 season, 246 permits were issued.
There is no minimum landing requirement. The permit must be renewed annually, but
not all permittees participate in the fishery every year; this latent capacity causes
concern because of the possibility of increased effort as other fishing opportunities
diminish. In addition, while the restricted access program is reducing the number of
permits, it may not be reducing effort in terms of the number of traps being fished.
Current regulations do not limit the number of traps that can be fished by each
permittee.
    Prior to 2003, new permits were issued via a lottery drawing. In February 2003,
the Commission adopted regulations that repealed the lobster permit lottery and the
capacity goal of 225 fishermen. A new capacity goal will be established by the
Commission after DFG reviews the restricted access program for spiny lobster.
    The DFG had intended to review this program several years after its initiation to
ensure that it was accomplishing its goals. The review, however, did not take place as
soon as planned. It is anticipated that a formal review of the spiny lobster restricted
access program will be undertaken in 2005. The review will evaluate the appropriate
capacity goal, consider whether fishing effort is adequately limited, and consider
whether permits should be transferable.
    State law (Fish and Game Code §7065) requires that each restricted access
program be reviewed at least every five years to make sure that it is consistent with the
Commission’s policy on restricted access. Table 4.2 lists the Commission’s restricted
access policies, and the lobster restricted access program’s degree of consistency with
each policy. Even though the lobster restricted access program was implemented
before the Commission adopted a policy on restricted access, the program is consistent
with most of the Commission’s policies.
    It is the policy of the Commission that each restricted access program should
have an equitable and practicable system for reducing fishing capacity. Although
constituent satisfaction with the current system has not been measured in this regard,
the system was developed with constituent input. The California Lobster and Trap
Fishermen’s Association worked with DFG to develop the current management
program. In addition to formalizing a trap-retrieval program for traps washed into the
surf or onto the beach, association members regularly participate in the Commission
process to resolve industry problems or improve current regulations.

Status of Biological Knowledge
    The California spiny lobster ranges from Monterey Bay, California to Manzanillo,
Mexico. There is also a small, isolated population of this species at the northwestern
end of the Gulf of California. The majority of the population is found between Point
Conception, California (Santa Barbara County) and Magdalena Bay, Baja California,
Mexico. Adult lobsters usually inhabit rocky areas from the intertidal zone to depths of
240 ft or more.
    Spiny lobsters mate from November through May. The male attaches a putty-like
packet of sperm, called a spermatophore, to the underside of the female’s carapace

                                         4-5
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
(body shell). When the female releases her eggs, she uses the small claws on her last
pair of walking legs to open the spermatophore and fertilize the eggs. Fertilized eggs
are attached to the underside of the female’s tail primarily in May and June. Egg-
carrying females generally inhabit water less than 30 ft deep and carry their eggs for
about 10 weeks, with larger females producing more eggs. For example, at San
Clemente Island, a female with a CL of 2.6 in. might carry about 120,000 eggs, while a
female with a CL of 3.6 in. might carry 680,000 eggs.
    Spiny lobster eggs hatch into tiny, transparent larvae with flattened bodies and
spider-like legs. They drift with the prevailing currents, feeding on other tiny animals.
They may drift 350 mi offshore, and are found from the surface to a depth of over 400 ft.
    As with many crustaceans, spiny lobsters must shed their outer shell to grow.
This process, known as “molting”, is preceded by the formation of a new, soft shell
under the old one. Lobsters take in water to expand the new shell before it hardens.
They are more vulnerable to predation and physical damage right after they molt, until
their shell becomes hard.
    In the five to nine months after hatching, larvae molt 12 times, slowly
transforming into juveniles that look like miniature, transparent adults with extremely
long antennae. Juvenile lobsters actively swim inshore where they settle on the sea
floor and start to grow. They usually spend their first two years in nearshore surf grass
beds, although they have also been found in shallow rocky crevices and mussel beds.
    Molt rates for the California spiny lobster are assumed to be similar to those of
the Japanese spiny lobster. A 0.24-inch CL Japanese spiny lobster goes through 20
molts to reach 1.18 in. CL at the end of its first year. Four molts during the second year
expand carapace length to 2 in., followed by three molts in the third year. Once they
reach 2.5 in. CL, spiny lobsters usually molt once per year following their reproductive
period; however, growth rates between molts are highly variable and have been
correlated with food availability, sex and size (the larger an animal, the slower it grows).
Injuries or disease will often result in a slowing or complete cessation of growth until the
injury has healed.
    Lobsters (of both sexes) generally reach sexual maturity in 5 or 6 years at 2.5 in.
CL, and reach a legal size of 3.25 in. CL in 7 to 11 years. Mature male lobsters grow
faster, live longer, and reach larger sizes than females. Males can live up to 30 years,
and females at least 20 years. Records exist of male California spiny lobsters that
weighed over 26 lb and attained lengths of 3 ft. Today, lobsters over 5 lb are
considered trophy sized.
    Adult lobsters are found in rocky habitat, although they will also search sandy
areas for food. During the day, spiny lobsters usually reside in crevices or holes, called
“dens”. More than one lobster is usually found in a den. At night, the animals leave
their dens to search for a wide range of food. Adult lobsters are omnivorous. They
consume algae, fish, and a wide variety of marine invertebrates such as snails,
mussels, sea urchins, clams, and injured or newly molted lobsters. Lobsters are eaten
by California sheephead, cabezon, kelp bass, octopuses, California moray eels, horn
sharks, leopard sharks, rockfish and giant sea bass.
    A large portion of the spiny lobster population makes annual offshore-nearshore
migrations that are stimulated by changes in water temperature. During winter months,
most male and female lobsters are found offshore at depths of 50 ft or more, although

                                           4-6
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
individuals of both sexes have also been found in shallow water in winter. In late
March, April, and May, lobsters move into warmer nearshore waters less than 30 ft in
depth. Higher temperatures closer to shore shorten the development time for lobster
eggs. Nearshore waters also have a more plentiful food supply. In late October and
November, the waters close to shore cool, and most lobsters move offshore again.
Winter storms that cause increased wave action in shallow waters encourage this
movement. Lobsters generally move after dark in small groups to cross the sand.

Status of the Population
    Population size is unknown for the California spiny lobster. Commercial landings
have fluctuated through the years (Figure 4.1 and Table 4.1), and are influenced by
some factors that are independent of the health of the population (such as weather,
oceanographic patterns, and the export market). The total recreational catch is
unknown.
    An illegal market has always existed for “shorts” (sub-legal-sized lobsters).
Public education and adequate warden enforcement are key elements in reducing this
problem.
    The DFG has had a commercial logbook system in place since 1973. Required
information in the logbooks include:

  •  Number of legal lobsters taken
  •  Number of shorts released
  •  Number of nights traps are in water
  •  Date traps were pulled from water
  •  Location of traps (by landmark and DFG fishing block number)
  •  Depth the traps are fished
  •  Number of traps fished

   The release of numerous shorts is generally a good indicator of the strength of
younger year classes in a population.

Management Considerations
    The spiny lobster is the only invertebrate in California that is subject to both a
significant recreational and commercial fishery. The magnitude of the recreational
fishery take is unknown. Spiny lobsters are long-lived and slow-growing. Future
management activities that should be considered to insure the health of this resource
and of the sport and commercial fisheries include:

    •  Initiating a program to determine the total recreational take of spiny lobster.
    •  Maintaining the current logbook program for both the commercial fishery and
      commercial passenger fishing vessel dive boats.
    •  Annually reviewing and analyzing all the lobster logbook data collected,
      especially catch and effort data.
    •  Conducting a formal review of the current restricted access program.
      o Conduct a capacity goal analysis to determine the goal that best matches


                                           4-7
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
       the resource.
      o Determine whether other effort controls, such as limits on the number of
       traps, need to be enacted to reduce capacity.
      o Evaluate the potential impacts of the latent capacity in the fishery (the
       capacity of the permits that are not used each season).
      o Evaluate the impacts of making permits transferable.


                                       Kristine C. Barsky
                             California Department of Fish and Game

                                        Revised May 2002
                              by Kristine C. Barsky and Alex Vejar
                             California Department of Fish and Game

                Section on Restricted Access Program added December 2002
                                     Revised May 2003
                           Kristine C. Barsky and Connie Ryan
                          California Department of Fish and Game


Further Reading
Bodkin, JL and L Brown. 1992. Molt frequency and size-class distribution in the California spiny lobster
  (Panulirus interruptus) as indicated by beach-cast carapaces at San Nicolas Island, California. Calif.
  Fish and Game 78(4):136-144.
Booth, JD and BF Phillips. 1994. Early life history of spiny lobster. Crustaceana 66(3):271-294.
Dexter, DM 1972. Molting and growth in laboratory-reared phyllosomes of the California spiny lobster,
  Panulirus interruptus. Calif. Fish and Game 58:107-115.
Duffy, JM 1973. The status of the California spiny lobster resource. Calif. Dept. Fish and Game, Marine
  Resources Tech. Rep. No. 10. 15 p.
Engle, JM 1979. Ecology and growth of juvenile California spiny lobster, Panulirus interruptus (Randall).
  Sea Grant Dissertation Series, USCSC-TD-03-79. 298 p.
Lindberg, RG 1955. Growth, population dynamics, and field behavior in the spiny lobster Panulirus
  interruptus. Univ. Calif. Pub. Zool. 59(6):157-248.
Mitchell, CT, CH Turner, and AR Strachan. 1969. Observations on the biology and behavior of the
  California spiny lobster, Panulirus interruptus (Randall). Calif. Fish and Game 55(2):121-131.
Wilson, RC 1948. A review of the southern California spiny lobster fishery. Calif. Fish and Game 34(2):
  71-80.




                                                  4-8
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 4.1. Commercial landings (pounds) of California spiny lobster, 1916-2001
Year   Pounds     Year   Pounds     Year   Pounds      Year  Pounds      Year   Pounds
     250,632         380,014         933,449         449,874          444,998
1916           1933           1950           1967           1984
     355,259         366,651         824,611         312,483          447,848
1917           1934           1951           1968           1985
     195,750         371,661         807,070         309,472          488,804
1918           1935           1952           1969           1986
     256,894         414,183         749,245         225,399          449,778
1919           1936           1953           1970           1987
     247,156         393,242         901,293         224,486          610,859
1920           1937           1954           1971           1988
     334,271         308,378         855,416         398,217          742,571
1921           1938           1955           1972           1989
     376,310         376,928         735,869         233,179          705,341
1922           1939           1956           1973           1990
     384,381         281,102         647,281         190,950          589,240
1923           1940           1957           1974           1991
     294,356         357,334         632,618         201,412          585,556
1924           1941           1958           1975           1992
     432,059         168,641         505,947         292,534          554,438
1925           1942           1959           1976           1993
     442,198         298,377         351,032         251,568          470,144
1926           1943           1960           1977           1994
     508,123         512,490         412,453         560,986          616,382
1927           1944           1961           1978           1995
     355,800         478,619         515,816         419,529          668,453
1928           1945           1962           1979           1996
     396,764         690,272         584,192         416,249          915,272
1929           1946           1963           1980           1997
     374,450         593,401         446,655         478,863          735,703
1930           1947           1964           1981           1998
     383,697         563,520         480,325         524,710          493,201
1931           1948           1965           1982           1999
     319,307         834,658         489,088         525,087          706,234
1932           1949           1966           1983           2000
                                                       716,655
                                                   2001
Data sources: DFG Catch Bulletins (1916-1983) and DFG commercial landing receipt database (1984-
2001).



Table 4.2. Consistency of the restricted access program for the California spiny lobster
commercial fishery with the Fish and Game Commission policies on restricted access for
commercial fisheries (policy adopted June 18, 1999)
    Fish and Game Commission policies              California spiny lobster restricted access
                                  program’s consistency with the policies
                   Restricted access as a management tool
POLICY 1.1: The Fish and Game Commission             CONSISTENT
(Commission) and the Department of Fish and Game         The commercial restricted access program is one of
(DFG) may use restricted access programs as one of a       the tools used to conserve and manage spiny lobster.
number of tools to conserve and manage fisheries as a      Other tools include: time and area closures,
public trust resource.                      commercial gear restrictions, recreational bag limits,
                                 commercial and recreational size limits.
                Goals and objectives of restricted access programs
POLICY 2.1: The Commission may develop restricted        CONSISTENT
access programs for fisheries that retain the public       The State Legislature granted the Commission
ownership status of the resource for one or more of the     authority to limit the number of permits to prevent
following purposes: 1) to promote sustainability; 2) to create  overfishing or to ensure efficient and economic
an orderly fishery; 3) to promote conservation among       operation of the fishery.
fishery participants; 4) to maintain the long-term economic
viability of fisheries.
               Development and review of restricted access programs
POLICY 3.1: Restricted access programs shall be         NOT APPLICABLE
developed with the substantial involvement of participants    The program was developed prior to the adoption of
in the affected fishery and others, consistent with the     this policy or the enactment of Fish and Game Code
stakeholder participation requirements of Fish and Game     §7059. However, participants were involved in the
Code §7059. This approach shall balance the specific       development of the program and subsequent


                                                        4-9
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 4.2. Consistency of the restricted access program for the California spiny lobster
commercial fishery with the Fish and Game Commission policies on restricted access for
commercial fisheries (policy adopted June 18, 1999)
    Fish and Game Commission policies              California spiny lobster restricted access
                                   program’s consistency with the policies
needs of the fishery with the desirability of increasing     modifications. The lobster restricted access program
uniformity among restricted access programs in order to      was modeled after the sea urchin program.
reduce administrative complexity.
POLICY 3.2: Each restricted access program shall be        CONSISTENT IN PART
reviewed at least every four years and, if appropriate,      The program started before the adoption of this policy,
revised to ensure that it continues to meet the objectives of   and has not been formally reviewed since its inception
the State and the fishery participants. Review of each      in 1996. The DFG plans to review the program in
restricted access program shall occur at least as often as    2005. This report (Annual Status of the Fisheries
the particular fishery is reviewed in the annual fishery     Report required by Fish and Game Code §7065)
status report required by Fish and Game Code §7065. The      briefly reviews the program, but does not formally
general restricted access policy should be reviewed at a     measure participants’ perceptions on whether the
regularly scheduled Commission meeting at least once       program is meeting its goals and objectives.
every four years following its adoption.
                    Elements of restricted access programs
POLICY 4.1: Each new restricted access program shall be      CONSISTENT
                                  • The program is based on a single species and
based either on one or more species or species groups
targeted by the fishery or on a type of gear. In programs      gear type.
                                  • The program was not expected to displace any
based on a type of gear an endorsement may be required
for one or more species or species groups targeted by the      participants, and thus, was not expected to impact
gear type. Each restricted access program should take into      other fisheries.
account possible impacts of the program on other fisheries.
POLICY 4.2: Each restricted access program that is not      NOT CONSISTENT
based on harvest rights shall have a capacity goal. The      Currently, the program does not have a capacity goal.
Commission, DFG and stakeholders will use the best        A new capacity goal needs to be established.
available biological and economic information in
determining each capacity goal.
POLICY 4.3: Each restricted access fishery system shall      CONSISTENT IN PART
have an equitable, practicable, and enforceable system for    Eligibility requirements were set for the initial permit,
reducing fishing capacity when the fishery is exceeding its    and since then attrition has been the means of
participation goal and for increasing fishing capacity when    reducing capacity. No system currently exists for
the fishery is below its fishery capacity goal.          increasing capacity.
POLICY 4.4: In fisheries that exceed their fishery capacity    CONSISTENT
goals, permit transfers will be allowed only if they are     Permits are not transferable.
consistent with the means for achieving the fishery capacity
goal.
                             Permits
POLICY 5.1: The Commission will give adequate public       NOT APPLICABLE
notice of intent to establish a restricted access program.    The program was developed before the adoption of
The Commission may set a Control Date for determining       this policy.
qualification for a restricted access program. A new
restricted access program shall not allow fishing effort to
increase beyond recent levels. Some level of fishery
participation may be required to qualify for an initial permit.
Fishery qualification can be based upon fishery
participation during a period of time preceding notification
of intent or on other factors relevant to the particular
fishery. Affidavits of fishery participation or medical
statements of inability to meet qualification standards shall
not be accepted. Vessels under construction or inoperable
during the qualification period shall not be considered for a



                                                          4-10
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 4.2. Consistency of the restricted access program for the California spiny lobster
commercial fishery with the Fish and Game Commission policies on restricted access for
commercial fisheries (policy adopted June 18, 1999)
     Fish and Game Commission policies             California spiny lobster restricted access
                                   program’s consistency with the policies
permit.
POLICY 5.2: New permits in a restricted access fishery      CONSISTENT IN PART
shall only be issued when the fishery is below its fishery    There are no provisions for issuing new lobster
capacity goal.                          permits.
POLICY 5.3: Restricted access fishery permits shall be of     CONSISTENT
                                  • The permit must be renewed annually and is valid
one year duration and are renewed upon annual
application and payment of the permit fee and shall be        for the period of the commercial lobster season.
                                  • A permit fee is required.
valid, provided they are annually renewed and the permit
holder meets the requirements of the restricted access
program for the life of the program.
POLICY 5.4: Each fisherman-based program shall          CONSISTENT
determine in what circumstances, if any, a substitute may     No substitution is allowed; the holder of the operator
fish the permit.                         permit must be onboard.
                           Permit transfers
POLICY 6.1: Restricted access permits may be           CONSISTENT
                                  • The permit is not transferable.
transferable. In fisheries in which the permit is transferable,
                                  • The program does not have a capacity goal.
transfer may be subject to conditions that contribute to the
                                  • A new capacity goal needs to be determined. The
objectives of the restricted access program. In new
restricted access programs, permit transfers will not be       DFG and the Commission will consider
allowed unless a fishery capacity goal and a system for       transferability of the permit when it reviews the
achieving that goal are part of the restricted access        program.
program. In existing restricted access programs, the
objective is to review and revise those programs to include
fishery capacity goals and systems to achieve those goals.
A restricted access program may include a fee on the
transfer of permits, in excess of actual administrative costs
for the permit change, to offset other costs involved in the
conservation and management of that fishery.
                           Vessel issues
POLICY 7.1: Vessels requested to be retired by the vessel     NOT APPLICABLE
owner will no longer be eligible to participate in commercial   The permit is not vessel-based.
fisheries in California.
POLICY 7.2: Replacement vessels of the same or lower       NOT APPLICABLE
fishing capacity as the permitted vessel will be allowed only   The permit is not vessel-based.
if the permitted vessel is lost, stolen, retired or no longer
able to participate as a commercial fishing vessel.
POLICY 7.3: Each restricted access program that allows for    NOT APPLICABLE
vessel permit transfers may allow for vessel upgrades       The permit is not vessel-based.
provided a permit consolidation/vessel retirement process
consistent with the fishery capacity goal is made part of the
program.
POLICY 7.4: A restricted access program may prohibit the     NOT APPLICABLE
use of support vessels or require that they be permitted in    The permit is not vessel-based.
the fishery or that they pay a fee comparable to the permit
fee.
                           Harvest rights
POLICY 8.1: It is the policy of the Commission that harvest    NOT APPLICABLE
rights systems such as individual transferable quotas may     The program is not based on harvest rights.
be considered only after careful consideration of


                                                         4-11
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 4.2. Consistency of the restricted access program for the California spiny lobster
commercial fishery with the Fish and Game Commission policies on restricted access for
commercial fisheries (policy adopted June 18, 1999)
    Fish and Game Commission policies             California spiny lobster restricted access
                                 program’s consistency with the policies
stakeholder input. In establishing such management
systems, the State should consider: (1) fair and equitable
initial allocation of quota shares which considers past
participation in the fishery, (2) resource assessment for
establishing total allowable catch estimates, (3) fishery
participation goals and aggregation limits, (4) cost recovery
from quota owners, (5) quota transferability, and (6)
recreational fisheries issues.
                  Administration of restricted access programs
POLICY 9.1: Administrative costs shall be minimized and     CONSISTENT
                                 • The DFG License and Revenue Branch issues
those costs shall be borne by the respective programs.
Review or advisory boards may be considered on a          permits.
                                 • No formal review or advisory board exists.
program-by-program basis. The programs shall be
administered in their entirety within an existing department    However, there is an active fishermen’s
unit.                               association.
                                 • The Commission’s hearing process is used for
                                  permit appeals.
POLICY 9.2: Fees collected from restricted access        CONSISTENT
initiatives may, for cost accounting and reporting purposes,  There is no dedicated account.
be deposited in a single dedicated Restricted Access
Fishery Account within the Fish and Game Preservation
Fund. A fund condition and activity report should be
published annually.
POLICY 9.3: Restricted access programs should provide      CONSISTENT
specific disincentives for violations of pertinent laws and   All provisions of the Fish and Game Code and
regulations. Enforcement costs of restricted access       regulations are a condition of the permit. The
programs should be minimized through the use of new       Commission can revoke a permit for violation of the
technologies or other means.                  laws or regulations. A condition of the permit renewal
                                is the submission of all required activity logs.




                                                       4-12
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
                               5. ROCK CRABS

Overview of the Fishery
    Rock crabs are fished along the entire California coast. The catch includes three
species: the yellow rock crab, Cancer anthonyi; the brown rock crab, C. antennarius;
and the red rock crab, C. productus. The commercial fishery is most active in southern
California (from Morro Bay south), where 85% to 90% of the landings occur. Fisheries
in Monterey, Half Moon Bay, and Eureka yield 10% to 15% of the rock crab landings. In
northern California, fishing is focused more on the valuable Dungeness crab. A major
recreational fishery has not developed for rock crab, but recreational crabbing is popular
in some areas and is often conducted in conjunction with other fishing activities.
    Rock crabs do not appear in Department of Fish and Game records until 1928,
and prior to 1950 there was no separate market category for reporting rock crab
landings. Crabs landed to the south of Santa Barbara were recorded as rock crabs, and
crabs landed to the north of Santa Barbara were recorded as Dungeness crab,
regardless of the actual species landed. In 1950, a separate reporting category for
commercial rock crab landings was established. Landings rose from 20,000 lb in 1950
to 1.9 million lb in 1986 (Figure 5.1 and Table 5.1). Between 1950 and 1986, a portion
of the recorded landings were actually calculated whole-crab weights based on landings
of claws. Since 1986, however, whole crabs and claws have been reported separately
(Table 7.2). In 1991, it became illegal to land rock crab claws alone. Rock crab
landings were approximately 1.1 million lb in 2000 and 1.2 million lb in 2001, and have
averaged 1.2 million lb per year since 1991.


                    Commercial Landings of Yellow, Brown, and Red Rock Crabs, 1916-2001
  thousands of pounds landed




                2500

                2000

                1500

                1000

                500

                 0
                 1910   1920  1930   1940   1950  1960   1970  1980   1990  2000

Figure 5.1. Annual commercial landings (pounds) of yellow, brown, and red rock crabs from 1916 to
2001. Data sources are California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Catch Bulletins (1916-1985) and
the DFG commercial landing receipt database (1986-2001).

    Commercial rock crabbing has expanded from nearshore areas around major
ports such as San Diego, San Pedro, Santa Barbara, and Morro Bay to more distant
mainland areas and the Channel Islands. Most rock crabs are landed alive for retail
sale in fresh fish markets. Often the crabs are cooked and eaten on site and,


                                                       5-1
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
depending on the tastes of the consumer, muscle tissue as well as other organs
(ovaries in particular) are consumed. Frozen or canned rock crab meat has not yet
been successfully marketed. During 2001, ex-vessel prices for rock crabs averaged
around $1.29 per lb.
    Several trap designs are used in the rock crab fishery. The most popular is a
single chamber, rectangular trap of two-by-four- or two-by-two-in. welded wire mesh.
Molded plastic traps that collapse or nest together are used by some fishermen for ease
of storage. Traps are set and buoyed singly or in pairs. Most trapping occurs in depths
of 90 to 240 ft on open sandy bottom or near rocky reefs. Two hundred or more traps
may be fished by one boat, with a portion pulled up and emptied each day. Traps are
usually left in the ocean for 48 to 96 hr prior to pulling. Commercial crab boats are
usually small, but range from skiff-sized boats to vessels of 40 ft or more.
    Recreational gear for trapping rock crab includes baited hoop nets, collapsible
star traps, or scaled-down commercial-type traps (north of Point Arguello) fished from
piers, jetties, and boats. Rock crabs are also captured by hand in the intertidal zone,
and when diving. Most recreational effort takes place along the shallow, nearshore
open coast and in bays. Some increased recreational take has occurred in central and
northern California in recent years as commercial passenger fishing vessels combine
finfishing trips with crab trapping. These combination trips mainly target Dungeness
crabs; however, depending on location and season, rock crabs (brown and red) are
often taken as well.
    Commercial laws and regulations protect crabs that are below reproductive size.
The law presently requires a minimum harvest size of 4.25-in. carapace width (widest
part of the body shell), and each trap must include escape rings that measure 3.25 in.
across. The minimum harvest size and escape ring size were chosen to accommodate
the different characteristics of the three rock crab species. Other laws and regulations
designed to conserve crab populations include requiring that traps be raised and
emptied every 96 hr, weather permitting, and prohibiting the use of commercial rock
crab traps in portions of Humboldt, San Pedro and San Diego bays, in Santa Monica
Bay, and in certain areas around Santa Catalina Island. Recreational rock crab fishery
regulations include a 4-in. minimum carapace width and a bag and possession limit of
35 crabs per day.
    A law was enacted in 2002 that authorized the Fish and Game Commission to
adopt regulations to manage the rock crab resource in a manner consistent with the
Marine Life Management Act of 1998. To date, no regulations have been proposed for
this purpose.

Status of Biological Knowledge
    Yellow rock crabs range from Humboldt Bay (Humboldt County) to southern Baja
California, Mexico, brown rock crabs from northern Washington to central Baja
California, and red rock crabs from Kodiak Island, Alaska to central Baja California. All
three species inhabit waters from the low intertidal zone to depths of 300 ft or more.
Although these species may occur together throughout much of their range, yellow rock
crabs are most abundant in southern California, brown rock crabs in central California
and red rock crabs in northern California. Yellow rock crabs prefer open sand or soft-
bottom habitat, while brown and red rock crabs prefer rocky or reef-type habitat.

                                         5-2
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
    Rock crabs, like other crustaceans, grow in a step-wise fashion with each molt
(shedding of the external shell). Yellow and brown rock crabs molt 10 to 12 times
before reaching sexual maturity at about 3-in. carapace width. Crabs of this size may
molt twice a year, but as they grow older and larger they molt less frequently. Crabs as
large as 6 in. across may molt once a year or less. Molting frequency and size at
maturity is not known for the red rock crab.
    Growth per molt decreases with size and age. Males of all three species attain
sizes 10% to 15% larger than females. Yellow rock crabs grow to exceed 7 in. in
carapace width, brown rock crabs reach 6.5 in., and red rock crabs 8 in. While the
longevity of rock crabs is not well known, they are thought to live for at least five or six
years.
    Mating takes place when females are in soft-shell condition, after molting. In
southern California, mating is most common in the spring, but occurs throughout the
year. About three months after mating, the female lays eggs and then fertilizes them
with a sperm packet left by the male during mating. The developing eggs are carried in
a mass attached to the female’s abdomen. Depending on size and species, nearly four
million eggs may be carried by a female rock crab. A nemertean worm is known to prey
on eggs carried by female rock crabs, but egg mortalities are generally low, averaging
less than 6%. After six to eight weeks, the eggs hatch into tiny free-floating larvae
which undergo seven developmental molts before settling to the bottom as juveniles.
    Rock crabs are both predators and scavengers, feeding on a variety of other
invertebrates. Strong, crushing claws allow them to prey on heavy-shelled animals
such as snails, clams, abalone, barnacles, and oysters. Rock crabs have a well-
developed sense of smell, which allows them to detect and locate food at a distance.
    Rock crabs, especially juveniles, are preyed upon by a variety of other marine
organisms. Fishes such as cabezon, barred sand bass and several species of rockfish
are known to feed on rock crabs. Invertebrate predators include octopus and certain
sea stars. As rock crabs grow, they generally become less susceptible to predators
except during the soft-shelled, post-molt period. Sea otters are one of the few effective
predators on large, hard-shelled rock crabs.
    Rock crabs do not appear to migrate or undertake large-scale movements.
Tagged adults have moved several miles, but no pattern is apparent. Some local
movements may also occur during mating or molting. Egg-bearing yellow rock crabs
are known to congregate in rock-sand interface habitats.

Status of the Populations
    Information is not available on the stock sizes, recruitment rates, mortality rates,
the effects of different oceanographic regimes, or potential yield for any of the three of
rock crab species. The commercial fishery, however, has had a localized effect on crab
abundance and size. Areas intensively exploited over an extended period produce
fewer crabs per trap, and have a reduced size-frequency distribution compared to
lightly-exploited areas. In Santa Monica Bay, which has been closed to commercial
crab fishing for decades, experimental catch rates were higher, crab sizes larger and
size-frequencies broader than in adjacent areas open to commercial trapping. Further
research should increase our understanding of rock crab population parameters.



                                           5-3
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Management Considerations
    The rock crab fishery is currently one of the few remaining significant nearshore
fisheries not subject to some form of restricted access. Open access and relatively low
capital requirements for entry could result in large increases in effort for rock crabs as
fishermen seek opportunities to diversify their fishing activities. The multi-species
nature of the rock crab fishery presents a number of challenges to implementing
meaningful management measures. Future management activities that could be
considered to enhance the health of this resource and fishery include:

    •  Establishing a system for obtaining periodic fishery-independent data on rock
      crab abundance, species and size composition, recruitment patterns, and
      bycatch characteristics.
    •  Monitoring the commercial fishery for species and size composition,
      geographic and temporal patterns in catch and effort, and bycatch
      characteristics.
    •  Investigating whether a restricted access program for the commercial fishery
      is needed. Currently, rock crabs may be taken under a general trap permit
      which is issued annually. The Fish and Game Commission has authority over
      trap permits.
    •  Exploring gear modifications to reduce bycatch of other species.


                                         David O. Parker
                             California Department of Fish and Game

                                           Revised May 2002


Further Reading
Carroll, JS. 1982. Seasonal abundance, size composition, and growth of rock crab, Cancer antennarius
  Stimpson, off central California. J. Crust. Biol. 2:529-561.
Carroll, JC and RN Winn. 1989. Species profiles: life histories and environmental requirements of coastal
  fishes and invertebrates (Pacific Southwest) -- brown rock crab, red rock crab, and yellow crab. U.S.
  Fish Wild. Serv. Biol. Rep 82 (11.117). U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, TR EL-82-4. 16p.
Reilly, PN. 1987. Population studies of rock crab, Cancer antennarius, yellow crab Cancer anthonyi, and
  Kellet’s whelk, Kelletia kelletii, in the vicinity of Little Cojo Bay, Santa Barbara County, California.
  Calif. Fish and Game. 73:88-98.
Shields, JD, RK Okazaki and AM Kuris. 1990. Brood mortality and egg predation by the nemertean,
  Carcinonemertes epialti, of the yellow rock crab, Cancer antonyi, in southern California. Can. J. Fish.
  Aquat. Sci. 47: 1275-1281.
Winn, RN. 1985. Comparative ecology of three cancrid crab species (Cancer anthonyi, C. antennarius
  and C. productus) in marine subtidal habitats in southern California. Ph.D. dissertation. University of
  Southern California, Los Angeles. 235 p.




                                                  5-4
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 5.1. Commercial landings (pounds) of yellow, brown, and red rock crabs, 1916-2001
Year  Pounds    Year  Pounds     Year   Pounds    Year   Pounds     Year     Pounds
      ------       14,818         20,007        324,386           1,676,298
1916        1933          1950          1967          1984
      ------       24,570         22,592        351,657           1,739,835
1917        1934          1951          1968          1985
      ------       12,817         16,977        504,076           1,913,788
1918        1935          1952          1969          1986
      ------       16,202         49,300        539,579           1,567,101
1919        1936          1953          1970          1987
      ------       1,710         39,058        542,732           1,239,273
1920        1937          1954          1971          1988
      ------       3,847         54,051        843,530           1,309,975
1921        1938          1955          1972          1989
      ------       3,984         59,171        955,788           1,788,657
1922        1939          1956          1973          1990
      ------       3,460         151,131        864,033           1,623,246
1923        1940          1957          1974          1991
      ------       2,645         166,962       1,201,867           1,468,309
1924        1941          1958          1975          1992
      ------         80        129,534       1,227,766           1,287,378
1925        1942          1959          1976          1993
      ------        ------        120,903       1,083,015           1,002,373
1926        1943          1960          1977          1994
      ------        540         151,782        956,874           1,047,316
1927        1944          1961          1978          1995
      270        12,188         200,304        953,590           1,154,869
1928        1945          1962          1979          1996
      ------       11,600         240,611       1,083,957           1,296,764
1929        1946          1963          1980          1997
       12       15,244         263,885       1,375,227           1,276,863
1930        1947          1964          1981          1998
       56       20,938         328,686       1,277,872            798,096
1931        1948          1965          1982          1999
      145        18,636         330,843       1,397,109           1,090,763
1932        1949          1966          1983          2000
                                                    1,184,739
                                              2001
------ No landings were reported from 1916 to 1927, 1929, and 1943.
1. Data sources: DFG Catch Bulletins (1916-1985) and DFG commercial landing receipt database (1986-
2001).
2. Only one market category (reporting category) existed for crabs from 1916 to 1949. All crab landed in the
San Diego, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara regions were assumed to be rock crab, and all crab landed in the
Monterey, San Francisco and Eureka regions were assumed to be Dungeness crab.
3. In 1950, a separate market category was created for rock crab; all three species of rock crab were combined
in this category.
4. From 1950 through 1985, the landings of rock crab also include any crab claws that were landed. The crab
claws converted to whole crab weight using a 1:4 ratio (one pound of crab claws equaled four pounds of whole
crab).
5. In 1986, a new market category was created for crab claws. Between 1986 and 1990, this category
contained claws from both sheep crab (spider crab) and rock crab, with sheep crab claws more prevalent than
rock crab claws. On January 1, 1991, it became illegal to take rock crab claws and the category became
exclusively sheep crab claws. In this table, landings from 1928 to 1949 and from 1986 to 2001 do not include
crab claws.
6. In 1994, three additional market categories were created: red rock crab, yellow rock crab, and brown rock
crab. The landings from 1994 through 2001 are the sum of the combined rock crab market category and the
three additional categories.




                                                 5-5
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
                           6. DUNGENESS CRAB

Overview of the Fishery
     Dungeness crab, Cancer magister, also known as market crab or edible crab,
was first taken commercially off San Francisco around 1848. Currently, Dungeness
crab is fished from Avila (San Luis Obispo County) to the California-Oregon border, with
commercial and recreational seasons beginning in late fall and ending in early summer.
     Before the 1944-1945 season, the commercial fishery was centered in the San
Francisco area, with average annual statewide landings of 2.6 million lb (Figure 6.1 and
Table 6.1). As the fishery expanded into the Eureka-Crescent City area near the end of
World War II, landings significantly increased. Since 1945, annual statewide landings
have averaged about 9.7 million lb (Figure 6.1 and Table 6.1), fueled partly by the
replacement of hoop nets with crab traps in the early 1940s. Annual ex-vessel value of
Dungeness crab landings have ranged from less than $10 million to about $20 million
during the last decade. Approximately three-quarters of the catch is sold as whole crab
(live, fresh-cooked or frozen), and the remainder is processed to remove the meat and
the meat is vacuum packed before being sold.


                     Commercial Landings of Dungeness Crab, 1916-2001

                40
  millions of pounds landed




                35
                30
                25
                20
                15
                10
                5
                0
                1910  1920  1930  1940  1950  1960  1970  1980   1990  2000

Figure 6.1. Annual (calendar year) commercial landings (pounds) of Dungeness crab from 1916 to 2001.
Data sources are California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Catch Bulletins (1916-1983) and the
DFG commercial landing receipt database (1984-2001).

    The commercial fishery for Dungeness crab occurs in two main areas: northern
California and central California. Central California fishing areas include Avila-Morro
Bay, Monterey, and San Francisco-Bodega Bay. The Morro Bay and Monterey fisheries
are minor compared to the San Francisco-Bodega Bay fishery. Central California
landings were relatively stable from the 1945-1946 season to the 1955-1956 season,
peaking at 9.3 million lb during the 1956-1957 season (Figure 6.2). Thereafter, landings
declined by more than one million lb per season through the 1961-1962 season, when
only 735,000 lb of Dungeness crab were landed. The central California fishery
remained depressed from the 1962-1963 season through the 1985-1986 season, with
landings averaging less than 1 million lb per season. Since the 1986-1987 season,

                                                  6-1
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
                                       Seasonal Commercial Landings of Dungeness Crab
                                          for Northern and Central California
  m illions of pounds landed


                30
                25
                20
                15
                10
                 5
                 0
                   1915-16

                        1920-21

                             1925-26

                                  1930-31

                                        1935-36

                                             1940-41

                                                  1945-46

                                                       1950-51

                                                            1955-56

                                                                 1960-61

                                                                       1965-66

                                                                            1970-71

                                                                                 1975-76

                                                                                      1980-81

                                                                                           1985-86

                                                                                                1990-91

                                                                                                     1995-96

                                                                                                           2000-01
                                                     Northern California        Central California

Figure 6.2. Commercial landings of Dungeness crab by season (late fall to early summer) for northern
California (includes Eureka, Crescent City, and Fort Bragg) and central California (includes Bodega Bay,
San Francisco area, Monterey, and Morro Bay). Data sources are California Department of Fish and
Game (DFG) Catch Bulletins (1916-1983) and the DFG commercial landing receipt database. The 2001-
2002 season data is preliminary.

however, landings have ranged from slightly less than 500,000 lb to more than 3 million
lb with an average 1.7 million lb.
    The central California fishery uses a 400 sq. mi area, including the Gulf of the
Farallones and waters north to the Russian River (Sonoma County). During the 1950s,
the Dungeness crab fleet consisted of 200 to 250 boats. A number of boats left the fleet
as the fishery began to decline in the 1960s. Currently, the fleet consists of about 190
vessels.
    The northern California fishery increased substantially after 1945, reaching its
peak in the late 1950s. Unlike the central California fishery, which peaked and then
experienced low production levels for many years, the north coast fishery exhibited
three 10-to-11-year “cycles” of production between 1945 and 1982. These repeating
cycles consisted of about 6 years of good to outstanding landings (as high as 25.6
million lb in the 1976-1977 season) followed by about 4 years of poor to extremely poor
landings (as low as 354,000 lb in the 1973-1974 season). Since the 1982-1983 season,
landings have fluctuated, but they have not been clearly cyclic. From the 1982-1983
season to the 2001-2002 season, landings have ranged from 1.9 to 13.1 million lb,
averaging about 6.9 million lb per season (Figure 6.2).
    Dungeness crab fishing grounds off northern California are more than twice as
large as those in central California. Northern California fishing grounds extend from
Fort Bragg to the California-Oregon border, with the prime area located between Eureka
and Crescent City. The size of the northern California fleet fluctuated between 100 and
200 vessels in the 1950s and 1960s. Fleet size dropped to a low of 61 during the 1973-
1974 season, and then rose to 410 during the 1976-1977 season. Since then, effort
has been high. Between the 1991-1992 season and the 2001-2002 season the number
of boats in the fleet has ranged from 201 to 449. Before the mid-1970s, most vessels in
the northern California crab fleet were converted salmon trollers that measured 30 to 60

                                                                                                          6-2
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
ft in length; however, the composition of the fleet shifted during the record production
years of the 1970s. With the boom in landings, boats as small as 22-ft dories and as
large as 100 ft also entered the fishery.
     The dividing line for management of the northern and central California areas is
the Mendocino-Sonoma County border. Both areas are managed on the basis of the
“3-S” principles— sex, season, and size. Only male crabs may be retained in the
commercial fishery (thus protecting the reproductive potential of the populations). The
fishery has open and closed seasons, and a minimum size limit is imposed (6.25 in.
across the widest part of the carapace). The central California season opens November
15 and continues through June 30, whereas the northern California season opens
December 1 and continues through July 15. The summer/fall closed periods are
intended to prevent fishing for soft-shelled (recently molted) male crabs. During the
closed seasons, male crabs are more vulnerable to fishery-related handling mortality
and have a lower market quality (low meat content). During open seasons, however,
male crabs are usually in prime condition for the market (high meat content). The
season opens two to three weeks earlier in central California than in northern California
because crabs in central California molt earlier and achieve adequate market condition
earlier than northern crabs. The Director of the California Department of Fish and
Game (DFG) may delay the northern California season opening to January 15 at the
latest, if the market condition of crabs is not sufficiently high on December 1.
Depending on crab condition, marketable crabs typically yield from 20% to 28% of their
body weight as cooked meat.
     Commercial traps for Dungeness crab are essentially the same throughout
California. The average circular steel crab trap is 3 to 3.5 ft in diameter and weighs 60
to 120 lb. Each trap is required to have two circular openings that measure 4.25 in. in
diameter. Sub-legal male and small female crabs escape through these “escape ports”,
which reduce the amount of potentially harmful handling that undersized crabs may be
exposed to, and increases the likelihood that the crabs captured will be mostly males
that meet or exceed the minimum size limit. Traps must also possess a destruction
device that will release captured crabs should the trap become lost. The traps are
heavily-weighted and rest on the sea floor; each trap is independently marked with a
numbered buoy that floats on the surface. Traps are fished overnight or longer,
depending on sea conditions. Most traps are fished at depths ranging from 60 to 240 ft,
but some traps are fished in shallower or deeper waters.
     Almost all of California’s commercial Dungeness crab catch is landed in the trap
fishery. Trawl vessels north of Point Reyes (Marin County) are allowed an incidental
take of 500 lb per trip during the regular season, but only a few thousand pounds of
trawl-caught crab is landed annually in California. Incidental landings of Dungeness
crab are generally small due to the prohibition on commercial trawling within three miles
of shore, where the vast majority of Dungeness are captured.
     There is limited sport take of Dungeness crab in central and northern California.
The total annual recreational harvest is unknown, but it is believed to be less than 1% of
the commercial take. The recreational fishery is managed through seasonal and area
closures, gear restrictions, size limits, and a limit on the number of crabs that may be
possessed. Either sex may be taken in the recreational fishery. The size limit is 5.75
in. across the widest part of the carapace and the bag/possession limit is 10 crabs,

                                          6-3
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
except when fishing from a commercial passenger fishing vessel in Sonoma, Marin, San
Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, when the size limit is 6 in.
and the bag/possession limit is 6 crabs.
    Because Dungeness crabs are caught almost exclusively within 3 mi. of shore in
California, and because California, Oregon and Washington often undertake
coordinated management activities under the auspices of the Pacific States Marine
Fisheries Commission, the fishery has remained under State jurisdiction despite federal
concerns regarding harvests beyond the three-mile state jurisdictional authority.
Although total landings are not restricted by quota, the commercial restricted access
program is designed to achieve an eventual reduction in the number of fishery
participants.

Restricted Access Program
    In 1992, the State Legislature began the process of developing a restricted
access program by requiring that anyone landing Dungeness crab for commercial
purposes have an annual Dungeness crab permit, and by establishing qualifying criteria
for that permit. During the first three seasons of the program (1992-1993, 1993-1994,
and 1994-1995 seasons), the annual Dungeness crab permit was issued to an applicant
based on his or her history in the fishery. The initial legislation attempted to slow entry
into the fishery while the Legislature evaluated the need for a restricted access
program. The initial legislation stipulated that the program would end on January 1,
1995 unless a law was enacted to continue the program.
    The Legislature reviewed the restricted access program in 1994 and determined
that it was necessary to limit the number of vessels to protect the fishery. With this

        Historical timeline for the Dungeness crab restricted access program
  1992   State Legislature begins a restricted access program. The permit is based on an
       individual’s landing of Dungeness crab.
  1994   State Legislature reviews the program and modifies the program to make it vessel-based
       beginning with the 1995-1996 season.
  1995 -  State Legislature enacts various modifications to the program.
  1997
  2000   State Legislature extends the program until 2006.
  2006   The program will end April 1, 2006 unless a law is enacted to continue the program.


determination, the Legislature revised the restricted access program making it a vessel-
based system (that is, the permit became attached to a specific vessel not to an
individual). The law required that the Dungeness crab vessel permit be renewed
annually, but it did not require that a minimum landing be made each year. The law
provided for the transfer of a permit upon sale of the vessel or upon replacement of the
vessel with another vessel of equivalent or slightly greater capacity. The vessel-based
program became effective with the 1995-1996 season. The 1994 law specified that the
program would end on April 1, 1998 unless subsequent legislation extended or repealed
the program. The program was modified in 1995, 1996 and 1997, and extended until


                                                  6-4
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
April 1, 2001. In 2000, the program was again extended, and is now scheduled to end
on April 1, 2006.
    In the season prior to the initiation of the restricted access program (1991-1992),
769 vessels made commercial landings of Dungeness crab. During the first season of
the initial restricted access program (1992-1993), 805 permits were issued (Figure 6.3).
During the first season of the vessel-based system (1995-1996), 681 permits were
issued (Figure 6.3). The number of permits increased during the next two seasons, and
then gradually declined. For the 2001-2002 season, 654 permits were issued. The
number of vessels actually making landings has been far less than the number of
permits issued in recent years; only 59% of the permits were used in the 2001-2002
season.


                      Dungeness Crab Permits, 1992-2002

            1000
  Number of permits




            800

            600

            400

            200

             0
               1992  1993  1994  1995  1996  1997  1998  1999  2000  2001  2002
                           License year (April 1-March 31)

Figure 6.3. Total number of permits (resident and non-resident) issued for the commercial Dungeness
crab fishery from the 1992-1993 license year (April 1 through March 31) to the 2002-2003 (preliminary)
license year. The restricted access program began in 1992. Dungeness crab permits were issued to
individuals for the 1992-1993, 1993-1994 and 1994-1995 license year; thereafter, vessel-based permits
were issued. Data sources are DFG license reports.

    The restricted access program remains under the authority of the State
Legislature. However, the Marine Life Management Act (passed by the Legislature in
1998) requires that each restricted access program be reviewed for consistency with the
Fish and Game Commission’s (Commission’s) policies on restricted access at least
every five years (Fish and Game Code §7065(b)). Table 6.2 provides an evaluation of
the current restricted access program’s consistency with the Commission’s policies on
restricted access. The primary feature of the restricted access program that is
inconsistent with the Commission’s policies is that the program lacks a capacity goal.
    Although the imposition of restricted access in California should prevent any
further increases in the total number of vessels that participate in the Dungeness crab
fishery, it does not prevent increases in fishing effort. There is currently no limit to the
number of traps that may be fished, or the intensity with which they are fished. As the
allowable take of groundfish has declined, many larger multi-purpose vessels have
devoted more effort to the Dungeness crab fishery. Some of these vessels can fish

                                                    6-5
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
upwards of 1,000 traps. Early in the season, these larger vessels fish continuously, day
and night, even in heavy seas. Total annual landings of Dungeness crab are largely
unaffected by such increases in concentrated fishing effort, but it has changed the
distribution of the catch over time. Prior to about 1980, crab landings in northern
California were normally spread throughout the entire open season. Now, in a typical
season in northern California, more than 80% of total landings are made during the
month of December.
    Uncontrolled increases in the numbers of traps fished by individual vessels and
the front-loading of annual landings may have important consequences with respect to
the allocation of fishery income among Dungeness crab vessel permit holders. Also,
the shortened period of substantial crab landings means that live Dungeness crabs, the
fishery’s most valuable products, are only available for a relatively short time period,
which could diminish the total economic value of the fishery. These and other fishery
economics issues are currently being researched.

Status of Biological Knowledge
    Dungeness crabs range from the eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska, to around
Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara County); however, the species is considered rare south
of Point Conception (Santa Barbara County). Temperature apparently determines this
species’ distribution, with the 38° to 65° F surface temperature defining the range. The
geographic range of the species probably depends more on the temperature tolerance
range of larvae than of adults. Optimal temperatures for larval growth and development
are 50° to 57° F.
    Dungeness crabs have a preference for sandy and sand-mud bottoms but may
be found on almost any bottom type. They may range from the intertidal zone to a
depth of at least 750 ft, but are not abundant beyond 300 ft.
    The Dungeness crab population off California, as demonstrated by tagging
experiments, consists of five sub-populations, located in Avila-Morro Bay, Monterey,
San Francisco, Fort Bragg, and Eureka-Crescent City. Only the latter three are
commercially important. DFG surveys indicate that the San Francisco and Fort Bragg
sub-populations combined are smaller than the sub-population extending from Eureka
into Oregon. Little or no intermixing of the sub-populations occurs. Tagging studies
have also demonstrated random movement by both sexes. At times, an inshore or
offshore migration may be observed, but most movement is restricted to less than 10
mi. Movement of up to 100 mi. has been noted for individual males, but female
movement seems much more limited.
    Female molting and mating occurs from February through June in California.
Male crabs are able to sense when females are about to molt (presumably through
detection of pheromones released by females). When male crabs find pre-molt
females, they carry the females in a protective pre-mating embrace for several days
until they molt. Hard-shelled males then mate with the freshly molted, soft-shell
females. Male sperm is stored inside the female. Fertilization of the eggs takes place
when the female pushes the eggs outside of her body sometime between October and
December. Thereafter, the eggs are carried under the abdominal flap of the female.
The smallest females carry about 500,000 eggs, while the largest females carry from
1.5 to 2.0 million eggs. Freshly-molted females carry larger numbers of eggs than egg-

                                         6-6
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
bearing females that have missed a molt. “Skip-molt” females that have extruded eggs
but have not molted recently must rely on stored sperm for fertilization of their eggs.
Females may store viable sperm for at least 2.5 years. The eggs, which are about the
size of small sand grains (0.016 to 0.024 in.), are bright orange after extrusion and
become progressively darker as they develop. Hatching occurs between November
and February.
    Newly hatched larvae pass through six different larval stages before taking on
the adult form. Larval development takes from 105 to 125 days in central California,
and is inversely related to water temperature. It is believed that larvae are carried
offshore during the first five larval stages, and that this movement is regulated by ocean
currents, depth, temperature, and salinity. Larvae are found near the surface at night
and at depths of up to 80 ft during the day. From April through June, larvae are
transported to nearshore waters, where they change into adult form. Estuaries such as
Humboldt Bay and San Francisco Bay are important nursery areas for young
Dungeness crabs, but most rearing must take place in nearshore coastal waters.
    Growth is accomplished through a series of discrete molts. In northern
California, Dungeness crabs of both sexes molt an average of six times during their first
year and attain an average width (at the widest part of the carapace) of 1 in. Six more
molts are required to reach sexual maturity at the end of the second year, when crabs
are approximately 4 in. in width. Once mature, females grow more slowly than males.
Females molt once per year at most after reaching maturity and rarely exceed the legal
size for males. The maximum size for females is about 7 in.in width. Male crabs
usually molt twice during their third year and once per year thereafter. The average
width of males three, four and five years of age is about 6, 7 and 8 in., respectively.
Males may undergo a total of 16 molts during a lifetime, reaching a maximum width of 9
in. at 6 to 8 years of age.
    Dungeness crabs are opportunistic feeders not limited by the abundance or
scarcity of a particular prey. Clams, fish, isopods and amphipods are preferred, and
cannibalism is prevalent among all age groups. Predators of Dungeness crabs,
especially larvae and small juveniles, include octopuses, larger crabs and as many as
28 species of fish, including coho and chinook salmon, flatfishes, lingcod, cabezon and
various rockfishes.

Status of the Population
    Dungeness crab populations in California have been fully exploited for at least 40
years and intensity of effort is extreme. In most years, from 80% to 90% of all available
legal-sized male crabs are captured in the fisheries. Although such high exploitation
rates on adult males might give rise to concerns that female mating success might be
reduced as a consequence, recent studies have shown that essentially all molting
females receive attention from males in northern California. Usually one or two year-
classes of male crabs dominate annual landings. Thus, since about 1960, annual
landings have provided a reasonable notion of abundance of legal-sized males and also
a strong signal of variation in year-class strength of recruited crabs.
    The dramatic decline in Dungeness crab catches in the central California fishery
during the late 1950s caused considerable research attention to be focused on this
resource during the 1970s. No definitive reason for the decline in the central California

                                          6-7
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
fishery has been established. Researchers have assessed the effects of changes in
ocean climate on survival and development of crab eggs and larvae, the role of
nemertean worm predation on egg survival, the effects of pollution on survival of
juvenile crabs in San Francisco Bay, and the possibility of unstable internal population
dynamics. Of these possible causes, a shift to warmer waters during and following the
decline in the late 1950s seems the most plausible. If this is the cause, it is reasonable
to assume that the abundance of crabs in the central California fishery may improve
over the next two decades if California coastal water temperatures remain cooler as a
consequence of apparent ocean regime shifts.
    The dramatic and periodic landings cycles in the northern California fishery from
about 1945 to 1982 have caused this fishery to receive even greater attention from
population dynamics modelers. Possible causes for the fluctuations in this fishery are
infestation by nemertean worms, various internal density-dependent processes that
reflect fluctuations in the abundance of unharvested females or cannibalism by adults
on juveniles, and combinations of internal density-dependent controls and fluctuating
oceanographic factors. There seems little doubt that crab populations, with their ability
to produce large amounts of eggs and their extreme vulnerability in the early larval
stages, are prone to great natural fluctuations in abundance. It also seems that variable
oceanographic factors (such as temperature, wind, and currents) have significant
impacts on the survival of year classes.
    Although many crustacean fisheries throughout the world have been
overexploited and are now at low abundance levels, Dungeness crab populations off
northern California, Oregon and Washington have produced landings that have
fluctuated around a fairly stable long-term mean for more than 30 years. One might,
therefore, consider this resource to have a healthy status. Formal fishery management
plans and stock assessments have not been produced for any West Coast population.
Fishery management has rested on the very simple, though biologically sound, “3-S”
principles (sex, season, and size). Typically restrictive fishery regulations such as
landing quotas have never been used in this fishery. A casually assigned healthy status
therefore rests on limited information.

Management Considerations
    The Dungeness crab resource is fully exploited in California. Responsibility for
managing the commercial Dungeness crab fishery lies with the State Legislature. While
the Legislature has authorized the Commission to regulate the recreational fishery, it
has not authorized the Commission to regulate the commercial fishery. The commercial
restricted access program will expire on April 1, 2006 unless the Legislature extends the
program. It would be beneficial to conduct a formal review of the current restricted
access program before the Legislature decides whether to extend the program. Issues
that could be considered during the review include:

    •  The creation of a capacity goal. No goal currently exists.
    •  Whether other effort controls, such as limits on the number of traps, need to
      be enacted to reduce capacity.
    •  The potential impacts of the latent capacity in the fishery (the capacity of the
      permits that are not used each season).

                                           6-8
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
                                           David Hankin
                                      Humboldt State University

                                       Ronald W. Warner
                             California Department of Fish and Game

                                       Revised April 2002
                                        by Patrick Collier
                             California Department of Fish and Game

               Section on Restricted Access Program added December 2002
                            by Connie Ryan and David Hankin
          California Department of Fish and Game, and Humboldt State University


Further Reading
Hankin, DG, TH Butler, PW Wild, and Q-L Xue. 1997. Does intense fishing on males impair mating
  success of female Dungeness crabs? Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 54:655-669.
Higgins, K, A Hastings, J Sarvela, and LW Botsford. 1997. Stochastic dynamic and deterministic
  skeletons: population behavior of Dungeness crab. Science 276: 1431-1435.
Melteff, BR (coordinator). 1985. Proceedings of the symposium on Dungeness crab biology and
  management. University of Alaska Sea Grant Report 85-3. 424 p.
Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. 1978. Dungeness crab project of the state-federal fisheries
  management program. 196 p.
Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. 1993. A review of the California, Oregon, and Washington
  Dungeness crab fishery. 83 p.
Wild, PW and RN Tasto (eds.). 1983. Life history, environment and mariculture studies of the Dungeness
  crab, Cancer magister, with emphasis on the central California fishery resource. Calif. Dept. Fish and
  Game, Fish Bull. 172. 352 p.




                                                 6-9
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 6.1. Commercial landings (pounds) of Dungeness crab, 1916-2001
Year   Pounds    Year    Pounds     Year    Pounds     Year    Pounds     Year    Pounds
     1,296,912         3,208,494         11,704,648        11,716,488         5,340,031
1916          1933           1950           1967           1984
     2,580,840         3,768,081         11,568,353        16,015,581         6,210,359
1917          1934           1951           1968           1985
     1,619,280         3,680,188         12,997,451        7,938,996         7,758,251
1918          1935           1952           1969           1986
     1,304,904         2,311,802         8,278,519        15,413,589         6,857,070
1919          1936           1953           1970           1987
     1,220,568         1,627,753         7,829,651        9,662,265        11,297,696
1920          1937           1954           1971           1988
      800,952         3,873,600         6,119,320        1,563,006         5,718,017
1921          1938           1955           1972           1989
      860,328         5,953,361         14,320,549        1,022,873        10,369,518
1922          1939           1956           1973           1990
     1,075,800         5,151,014         19,118,484         685,000         4,246,044
1923          1940           1957           1974           1991
     1,506,816         4,260,340         17,282,766        3,934,663         8,327,150
1924          1941           1958           1975           1992
     3,234,312         2,414,110         17,262,261        15,726,774        11,958,039
1925          1942           1959           1976           1993
     3,296,280         2,315,338         14,876,148        33,647,863        13,491,363
1926          1943           1960           1977           1994
     2,960,712         2,934,776         11,711,327        9,362,197         9,236,191
1927          1944           1961           1978           1995
     3,574,464         4,334,383         3,222,580        12,978,505        12,331,365
1928          1945           1962           1979           1996
     1,792,776         9,624,368         1,951,461        15,934,778         9,908,520
1929          1946           1963           1980           1997
     1,992,384        10,733,398         1,815,363        10,435,441        10,692,760
1930          1947           1964           1981           1998
     2,231,384        11,892,891         4,803,906        6,973,679         8,713,823
1931          1948           1965           1982           1999
     2,433,987        11,115,476         12,376,390        5,301,828         6,476,494
1932          1949           1966           1983           2000
                                                         3,536,099
                                                   2001
Data sources: DFG Catch Bulletins (1916-1983) and DFG commercial landing receipt database (1984-2001).



Table 6.2. Consistency of the restricted access program for the Dungeness crab commercial
fishery with the Fish and Game Commission policies on restricted access for commercial
fisheries (policy adopted June 18, 1999)
    Fish and Game Commission policies            Dungeness crab restricted access program’s
                                    consistency with the policies
                   Restricted access as a management tool
POLICY 1.1: The Fish and Game Commission             CONSISTENT
(Commission) and the Department of Fish and Game         The program was established by the State Legislature
(DFG) may use restricted access programs as one of a       and remains under the authority of the Legislature.
number of tools to conserve and manage fisheries as a      However, restricted access is one of the tools used to
public trust resource.                      manage the fishery and conserve the resource. The
                                 program is due to end on April 1, 2006 unless the
                                 Legislature extends the program.
                Goals and objectives of restricted access programs
POLICY 2.1: The Commission may develop restricted        CONSISTENT
access programs for fisheries that retain the public       The legislative intent as stated in Fish and Game Code
ownership status of the resource for one or more of the     §8280 was “to protect the Dungeness crab fishery”.
following purposes: 1) to promote sustainability; 2) to create  However, there is some question whether the program
an orderly fishery; 3) to promote conservation among       is meeting the legislative intent for an orderly fishery
fishery participants; 4) to maintain the long-term economic   and for the long-term economic viability of the fishery.
viability of fisheries.
               Development and review of restricted access programs
POLICY 3.1: Restricted access programs shall be         NOT APPLICABLE
developed with the substantial involvement of participants    The program was developed prior to the adoption of
in the affected fishery and others, consistent with the     Fish and Game Code §7059 or the Commission policy



                                                        6-10
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 6.2. Consistency of the restricted access program for the Dungeness crab commercial
fishery with the Fish and Game Commission policies on restricted access for commercial
fisheries (policy adopted June 18, 1999)
    Fish and Game Commission policies              Dungeness crab restricted access program’s
                                     consistency with the policies
stakeholder participation requirements of Fish and Game      on restricted access. However, constituents were
Code §7059. This approach shall balance the specific       involved in the development of the initial and
needs of the fishery with the desirability of increasing     subsequent legislation regarding the Dungeness crab
uniformity among restricted access programs in order to      program.
reduce administrative complexity.
POLICY 3.2: Each restricted access program shall be        CONSISTENT IN PART
                                  • The program has been reviewed and revised by
reviewed at least every four years and, if appropriate,
revised to ensure that it continues to meet the objectives of    the State Legislature a number of times.
                                  • This report (Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
the State and the fishery participants. Review of each
restricted access program shall occur at least as often as      required by Fish and Game Code §7065) briefly
the particular fishery is reviewed in the annual fishery       reviews the program, but does not formally
status report required by Fish and Game Code §7065. The       measure participants’ perceptions on whether the
general restricted access policy should be reviewed at a       program is meeting its goals and objectives.
regularly scheduled Commission meeting at least once
every four years following its adoption.
                    Elements of restricted access programs
POLICY 4.1: Each new restricted access program shall be      CONSISTENT IN PART
                                  • The program is based on one species and one
based either on one or more species or species groups
targeted by the fishery or on a type of gear. In programs      gear type.
                                  • It is not clear whether the impacts on other
based on a type of gear an endorsement may be required
for one or more species or species groups targeted by the      fisheries were evaluated during the development
gear type. Each restricted access program should take into      of the program.
account possible impacts of the program on other fisheries.
POLICY 4.2: Each restricted access program that is not      NOT CONSISTENT
based on harvest rights shall have a capacity goal. The      No capacity goal was set by the State Legislature.
Commission, Department and stakeholders will use the       The Legislature limited the number of permits, but this
best available biological and economic information in       may not have limited capacity or effort.
determining each capacity goal.
POLICY 4.3: Each restricted access fishery system shall      NOT CONSISTENT
have an equitable, practicable, and enforceable system for    No capacity goal exists, and there is no method to
reducing fishing capacity when the fishery is exceeding its    increase or decrease capacity. Under the program,
participation goal and for increasing fishing capacity when    capacity, in terms of numbers of permits, is decreasing
the fishery is below its fishery capacity goal.          by attrition. However, it is not clear if capacity, in
                                 terms of number of traps or size of vessels, is
                                 increasing or decreasing.
POLICY 4.4: In fisheries that exceed their fishery capacity    NOT CONSISTENT
goals, permit transfers will be allowed only if they are     No capacity goal exists, and permit transfer is allowed.
consistent with the means for achieving the fishery capacity
goal.
                             Permits
POLICY 5.1: The Commission will give adequate public       NOT APPLICABLE
notice of intent to establish a restricted access program.    The program was established by the State Legislature.
The Commission may set a Control Date for determining
qualification for a restricted access program. A new
restricted access program shall not allow fishing effort to
increase beyond recent levels. Some level of fishery
participation may be required to qualify for an initial permit.
Fishery qualification can be based upon fishery
participation during a period of time preceding notification
of intent or on other factors relevant to the particular



                                                         6-11
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 6.2. Consistency of the restricted access program for the Dungeness crab commercial
fishery with the Fish and Game Commission policies on restricted access for commercial
fisheries (policy adopted June 18, 1999)
    Fish and Game Commission policies             Dungeness crab restricted access program’s
                                    consistency with the policies
fishery. Affidavits of fishery participation or medical
statements of inability to meet qualification standards shall
not be accepted. Vessels under construction or inoperable
during the qualification period shall not be considered for a
permit.
POLICY 5.2: New permits in a restricted access fishery      NOT CONSISTENT
shall only be issued when the fishery is below its fishery    No capacity goal exists, and there are no provisions
capacity goal.                          for issuing new permits.
POLICY 5.3: Restricted access fishery permits shall be of     CONSISTENT
one year duration and are renewed upon annual           Annual renewal is required.
application and payment of the permit fee and shall be
valid, provided they are annually renewed and the permit
holder meets the requirements of the restricted access
program for the life of the program.
POLICY 5.4: Each fisherman-based program shall          NOT APPLICABLE
determine in what circumstances, if any, a substitute may     This is a vessel-based program.
fish the permit.
                          Permit transfers
POLICY 6.1: Restricted access permits may be           NOT CONSISTENT
                                  • Permits are transferable under certain conditions,
transferable. In fisheries in which the permit is transferable,
transfer may be subject to conditions that contribute to the     and transfers are subject to a fee.
                                  • The program has not been revised to include a
objectives of the restricted access program. In new
restricted access programs, permit transfers will not be       capacity goal and a system to achieve that goal.
allowed unless a fishery capacity goal and a system for
achieving that goal are part of the restricted access
program. In existing restricted access programs, the
objective is to review and revise those programs to include
fishery capacity goals and systems to achieve those goals.
A restricted access program may include a fee on the
transfer of permits, in excess of actual administrative costs
for the permit change, to offset other costs involved in the
conservation and management of that fishery.
                           Vessel issues
POLICY 7.1: Vessels requested to be retired by the vessel     NOT CONSISTENT
owner will no longer be eligible to participate in commercial   A permit may be transferred to a replacement vessel.
fisheries in California.                     The program does not restrict the use of the “replaced”
                                 vessel.
POLICY 7.2: Replacement vessels of the same or lower       NOT CONSISTENT
fishing capacity as the permitted vessel will be allowed only   The program provides for increase in capacity under
if the permitted vessel is lost, stolen, retired or no longer   certain circumstances.
able to participate as a commercial fishing vessel.
POLICY 7.3: Each restricted access program that allows for    NOT CONSISTENT
                                  • No permit consolidation or retirement process
vessel permit transfers may allow for vessel upgrades
provided a permit consolidation/vessel retirement process      exists.
                                  • No capacity goal exists.
consistent with the fishery capacity goal is made part of the
program.
POLICY 7.4: A restricted access program may prohibit the     CONSISTENT
use of support vessels or require that they be permitted in    The program allows vessels without permits to deploy
the fishery or that they pay a fee comparable to the permit    traps, but not to retrieve traps.
fee.


                                                        6-12
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 6.2. Consistency of the restricted access program for the Dungeness crab commercial
fishery with the Fish and Game Commission policies on restricted access for commercial
fisheries (policy adopted June 18, 1999)
    Fish and Game Commission policies            Dungeness crab restricted access program’s
                                   consistency with the policies
                           Harvest rights
POLICY 8.1: It is the policy of the Commission that harvest   NOT APPLICABLE
rights systems such as individual transferable quotas may    The program is not based on harvest rights.
be considered only after careful consideration of
stakeholder input. In establishing such management
systems, the State should consider: (1) fair and equitable
initial allocation of quota shares which considers past
participation in the fishery, (2) resource assessment for
establishing total allowable catch estimates, (3) fishery
participation goals and aggregation limits, (4) cost recovery
from quota owners, (5) quota transferability, and (6)
recreational fisheries issues.
                  Administration of restricted access programs
POLICY 9.1: Administrative costs shall be minimized and     CONSISTENT
                                 • The program is administered through the DFG
those costs shall be borne by the respective programs.
Review or advisory boards may be considered on a          Marine Region.
                                 • The Dungeness Crab Review Panel reviewed
program-by-program basis. The programs shall be
administered in their entirety within an existing department    applications for permits.
unit.
POLICY 9.2: Fees collected from restricted access        CONSISTENT
initiatives may, for cost accounting and reporting purposes,  There is no dedicated account.
be deposited in a single dedicated Restricted Access
Fishery Account within the Fish and Game Preservation
Fund. A fund condition and activity report should be
published annually.
POLICY 9.3: Restricted access programs should provide      CONSISTENT IN PART
                                 • If a person submits false information to obtain a
specific disincentives for violations of pertinent laws and
regulations. Enforcement costs of restricted access        permit, DFG must revoke the permit and revoke
programs should be minimized through the use of new        the person’s commercial fishing license and
technologies or other means.                    commercial boat registration for at least five
                                  years.
                                 • The Commission may revoke the commercial
                                  fishing license and commercial boat registration of
                                  anyone owning a boat used to take or land
                                  Dungeness crab without a permit.




                                                       6-13
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
                             7. SHEEP CRAB

Overview of the Fishery
     The sheep crab, Loxorhynchus grandis, commonly known as the spider crab, is
trapped mainly in the Santa Barbara Channel and off the northern Channel Islands.
The bulk of landings occur in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, although most crabs
are marketed in San Pedro (Los Angeles County) and the greater Los Angeles area.
Crab traps are set primarily in shallow, sandy-bottom areas (30-70 ft) in spring and
summer, and moved to deeper waters (120-240 ft) in fall and winter.
     Before the late 1970s, sheep crabs were occasionally taken as bycatch in
commercial gill and trammel net fisheries, and were infrequently taken by recreational
divers. They were a nuisance to net fishermen as they often became tangled in gear.
Santa Barbara fishermen and processors developed an experimental market for sheep
crab, which grew rapidly because of high demand for the claws.
     Two types of fisheries exist for sheep crab: one for claws alone, and one for
whole crabs. Gill net and trammel net fishermen supplied the claw market, usually
killing the crab in the claw-removal process. With development of the claw fishery,
sheep crab became a valuable product for gill net fishermen. Only male crabs are used
in the claw fishery, as adult female and small adult male claws do not reach market
size.
     For the whole crab fishery, both males and females are taken, with crab and
lobster trap fishermen supplying the bulk of live crabs. Modified rock crab or lobster
traps with enlarged funnels are used to trap sheep crab.


                      Commercial Landings of Sheep Crab, 1916-2001
  thousands of pounds landed




                120

                100
                80

                60

                40
                20

                 0
                 1910  1920  1930  1940  1950  1960  1970  1980  1990  2000

Figure 7.1. Annual commercial landings (pounds) of sheep crab from 1916 to 2001. Data sources are
California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Catch Bulletins (1916-1983) and the DFG commercial
landing receipt database (1984-2001).

    Fishery landings peaked in 1988 with landings of 108,000 lb of whole crabs
(Figure 7.1 and Table 7.1), and 96,000 lb of claws (Table 7.2). From 1986 through
1990, the crab claw market category contained claws from both sheep crab and rock
crab, with sheep crab claws more prevalent than rock crab claws. The retail value of


                                                 7-1
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
the combined catch was about $1.9 million, with claws being sold for $5.75 per lb and
whole crabs going for $3.00 per lb live and $4.25 per lb cooked. The 1988 claw
landings represented approximately 362,000 lb of whole crabs. When the claw fishery
was at its peak, the sheep crab fishery was the only fishery in the United States with
sizeable landings of both claws and whole crabs.
    In 1990, the Marine Resources Protection Act (California ballot initiative
Proposition 132) established a three year phase-out of gill and trammel nets within three
miles of the mainland shore south of Point Arguello (Santa Barbara County) and in
areas around the Channel Islands. Subsequently, landings of sheep crab claws
plummeted. Since the phase-out of gill and trammel nets in 1994, crab claw landings
have averaged 4,000 lb per year, while the annual landings of whole crabs has not
changed substantially.
    While claws commanded a higher price per lb than whole crab before the phase-
out of gill and trammel nets, the price of claws fell along with landings after the phase-
out in 1994. In 1999 the retail value of fishery landings was approximately $310,000,
with whole, live crabs being sold for up to $4.00 per lb and claws up to $3.00 per lb.
    Any future increase in claw landings seems unlikely given that the fishery was
developed to provide some value to a bycatch species. Also, when it became illegal to
take rock crab claws in 1991, landings of sheep crab claws did not increase to
compensate for the loss of rock crab claws in the market, probably because the law
banning take of rock crab claws was implemented at the same time as the ban on using
gill and trammel nets in shallow waters. Thus, the ban on the primary gear used to take
sheep crab claws incidentally seems to have stemmed any possible increase in claw
landings.
    Fishing effort for whole crabs and landings of whole crabs remains relatively low
since fishermen generally must establish their own live markets and must be able to
hold the live crabs for up to a week or more. In addition, because of the heavy, thick
shell of the crab, processing the body meat is uneconomical at present. Landings of
whole crabs may increase if new marketing efforts expand the live markets or if
processing becomes economically feasible. Increased landings seem possible given
the continued interest in the California fishery and the recent development of an
experimental sheep crab fishery off Baja California, Mexico.

Status of Biological Knowledge
    “Sheep crab” is the common name of one species within a family of crabs
(Majidae), collectively known as spider crabs. Consequently, the sheep crab, which is
the largest member of the California majid crabs, is often called “spider crab”. They
range from Cordell Bank (off Marin County) south to Cape Thurloe, Baja California, in
depths of 20 to 410 ft. It is not known whether the sheep crab resource consists of
more than one population. Sheep crabs are apparently most abundant off southern
California.
    Longevity of this crab is currently unknown, but many adults appear to be at least
four years old. In contrast to most other commercially-important crustaceans, sheep
crabs are believed to cease “molting”, or shedding their shells, upon reaching maturity.
After the final molt, crabs do not increase in size nor do they regenerate limbs.



                                          7-2
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Because of this characteristic, sheep crabs may require a different management regime
than other crabs.
    Maturation is currently defined only by the relative size of external body parts. At
maturity, the width of the abdomen in females and the length of the claw in males
increase markedly when compared to carapace length. Females become mature
between 4.2 and 6.8 in. carapace length. Adult males range in size from 4.2 to 9.6 in.
carapace length. However, juvenile male crabs can reach a length of 6.8 in., so size
alone cannot determine maturity. The presence of a gap in the serration on the claw of
adult male crabs also distinguishes them from juvenile males. It is uncertain how
maturity, as determined by the relative size of external body parts, relates to
physiological and behavioral maturity.
    The number of egg-bearing females peaks in late spring and remains high
throughout the summer, although they can be found throughout the year. Adult females
are able to mate when soft- or hard-shelled. Sperm storage allows for multiple broods
to be laid even in the absence of males. Egg numbers probably increase with the size
of brooding female crabs. Small broods may contain 125,000 eggs, whereas large
broods can contain up to 500,000 eggs.
    Laboratory observations suggest that sheep crabs feed on a variety of prey.
They readily eat dead fish, crushed mussels, and kelp. Cannibalism of newly-molted
animals occurs in the laboratory when crabs are not well fed. No observations are
available on foraging behavior in the wild, nor have gut contents been analyzed.
    Predatory interactions have not been observed in the field, but it is likely that
small crabs are preyed upon by cabezon, California sheephead, octopus, sharks and
rays. Small sheep crabs disguise themselves by decorating their carapace with algae,
sponges, or other encrusting materials. Large crabs probably have few predators.
    Two parasitic infections could potentially impact the number of individuals
reaching later life stages: an undescribed species of nemertean worm, also know as the
ribbon worm, and the rhizocephalan barnacle. The ribbon worm consumes developing
embryos in eggs, while the barnacle eliminates reproductive output and also inhibits
growth of the crab. Preliminary observations indicate that certain areas contain a high
prevalence of individuals parasitized by these barnacles, and that crabs become
infected as juveniles.
    Male crabs winter in deep water. Both sexes migrate onshore in early spring,
and piles of adult females have been observed in shallow water in spring and summer.
Large adult males have been seen on the perimeter of these aggregations, which are
apparently related to mating. Within these aggregations, the majority of females bear
eggs, and the males often exhibit competitive behavior for mates. Male and female
crabs have been observed hooked together, back-to-back, by the male’s hindmost
limbs. Similar aggregate mating behavior has been reported for other spider crabs.

Status of the Population
    The abundance of sheep crabs is unknown. Abundant populations have been
reported off Los Angeles (Los Angeles County) and San Diego (San Diego County).
Although this crab has been harvested as bycatch for many years, there is no evidence
of declining populations in the Santa Barbara Channel where most of the crab fishing
takes place. However, there are reports of a decrease in overall crab size. This decline

                                          7-3
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
could be due to the immense fishing pressure for large males at the height of the
fishery. Because this species stops molting at maturity, removal of large crabs may
leave only small animals to contribute to the gene pool. If the terminal molt is
genetically regulated, this could result in a population of smaller crabs. However, this is
presently a hypothesis. The true state of populations and size distributions remains
unknown.

Management Considerations
    Additional biological information, including a better understanding of physiological
and behavioral reproduction, is needed to develop sound management policies.
Nevertheless, limited management recommendations can be made based on certain
biological characteristics of the sheep crab:

    •  Sheep crab stop molting upon reaching adulthood. Thus, the claws will not
      regenerate once removed from adult crabs.
    •  The cessation of molting and other characteristics have implications for
      management of the live, whole body fishery. For example, size limits would
      likely need to include both an upper and lower limit. This would leave the
      largest and smallest crabs to mate and maintain recruitment. The lower limit
      would need to protect large juvenile males which overlap in size with the
      smaller adults.
    •  Protection of seasonal spawning aggregations may need to be incorporated
      into a management plan for this species.
    •  After sheep crab stop molting, the shell and limbs of the crabs become
      abraded over time. The level of abrasion (called “abrasion stage”) can be
      used to distinguish between juveniles and adults. Use of abrasion stages
      may also provide a good tool for management. However, duration of the
      various abrasion stages and their association with gonadal development and
      reproductive success needs to be determined before considering this
      management strategy.


                          Carolynn S. Culver and Armand M. Kuris
                            University of California, Santa Barbara

                                         Revised May 2002


Further Reading
Anonymous. 1983. Guide to underutilized species of California. National Marine Fisheries Service Admin.
  Rept. T-83-01. 29p.
Culver, Carolynn S. 1991. Growth of the spider crab, Loxorhynchus grandis. M.A. Thesis, Univ. of Calif.
  Santa Barbara, California. 101 p.
Pleschner, DB 1985. Fish of the Month: Spider Crab. Pacific Fishing Magazine. 8(6): 33-39.




                                                7-4
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 7.1. Commercial landings (pounds) of sheep crab, 1916-2001
Year   Pounds   Year   Pounds   Year   Pounds      Year  Pounds   Year  Pounds
      ------        ------          ------        ------      56,328
1916         1933         1950            1967       1984
      ------        ------          ------        ------      41,760
1917         1934         1951            1968       1985
      ------        ------          ------        ------      70,465
1918         1935         1952            1969       1986
      ------        ------          ------        1,032       99,546
1919         1936         1953            1970       1987
      ------        ------          ------        ------      107,569
1920         1937         1954            1971       1988
      ------        ------          ------        ------      70,057
1921         1938         1955            1972       1989
      ------        ------          ------        ------      93,444
1922         1939         1956            1973       1990
      ------        ------          ------          52       99,500
1923         1940         1957            1974       1991
      ------        ------          ------        ------      89,871
1924         1941         1958            1975       1992
      ------        ------          ------        ------      71,173
1925         1942         1959            1976       1993
      ------        ------          ------        ------      67,290
1926         1943         1960            1977       1994
      ------        ------          ------        1,919       59,427
1927         1944         1961            1978       1995
      ------        ------          ------       14,402       58,852
1928         1945         1962            1979       1996
      ------        ------          ------        9,869       95,801
1929         1946         1963            1980       1997
      ------        ------          ------       10,914       99,797
1930         1947         1964            1981       1998
      ------        ------          ------       16,495       68,602
1931         1948         1965            1982       1999
      ------        ------          ------       47,108       55,995
1932         1949         1966            1983       2000
                                                 64,564
                                            2001
------ No landings were reported.
1. Data sources: DFG Catch Bulletins (1916-1983) and commercial landing receipt database (1984-2001).
2. Sheep crab landings are reported as spider crab by DFG.


Table 7.2. Commercial landings (pounds) of crab claws,
1986-2001
Year Pounds     Year  Pounds     Year Pounds
     46,167         28,805             6,490
1986          1991           1996
     82,931         27,368             4,958
1987          1992           1997
     96,471         19,482             5,447
1988          1993           1998
     76,090          4,423             3,347
1989          1994           1999
     64,556          3,812             3,258
1990          1995           2000
                                 2,750
                         2001
1. Data source: DFG commercial landing receipt database.
2. In 1986, a new market category (reporting category) was
created for crab claws. Between 1986 and 1990, this category
contained claws from both sheep crab (spider crab) and rock
crab, with sheep crab claws more prevalent than rock crab
claws. On January 1, 1991, it became illegal to take rock crab
claws and the category became exclusively sheep crab claws.
3. Landings reported as weight of the claws and are not an
estimate of whole weight of the crab.




                                                7-5
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
                               8. ABALONES

Overview of the Fishery
    Seven species of abalone are found in California: red abalone, Haliotis
rufescens; pink abalone, H. corrugata; green abalone, H. fulgens; black abalone, H.
cracherodii; white abalone, H. sorenseni; pinto abalone, H. kamtschatkana; and flat
abalone, H. walallensis. Threaded abalone, H. kamtschatkana assimilis, was once
thought to be a separate species, but is now considered to be synonymous with the
pinto abalone.
    Archaeological evidence indicates that Native Americans fished extensively for
abalone from coastal areas and the Channel Islands prior to European settlement of
California. During the 1850s, Chinese-Americans began fishing commercially for
intertidal green and black abalones. Fishermen worked shallow waters with skiffs,
dislodging abalone with long poles tipped with wedges, and landing them with gaffs.
This fishery hit peak landings of 4.1 million lb1 in 1879, but was eliminated in 1900 by
the closure of shallow waters to commercial harvest.
    In the early 1900s, Japanese-American divers began fishing virgin stocks of
subtidal abalone, first as free divers from surface floats and later, more successfully, as
hard-hat divers. Landings peaked at about 3.9 million lb in 1935 and then declined to
under 200,000 lb by 1942 as fishermen of Japanese heritage were moved to relocation
camps during the early part of World War II (Figure 8.1 and Table 8.1). Commercial
abalone fishing increased later in World War II when abalone was used as a source of
war-time food. Landings rapidly increased between 1942 and 1951. Landings
appeared relatively stable from 1952 to 1968, averaging about 4.5 million lb per year,
but began declining rapidly in 1969. By 1996, the last full year the commercial fishery
was open, landings had fallen to about 229,500 lb, only 4% of the fishery’s peak
landings of 5.4 million lb.


                    Commercial Landings of Red, Pink, Green, White, Black, and
                          Unspecified Abalone, 1916-2001
  thousands of pounds landed




                6,000
                5,000
                4,000
                3,000
                2,000
                1,000
                  0
                  1910   1920  1930  1940  1950  1960  1970  1980  1990  2000

Figure 8.1. Annual commercial landings (pounds) of red, pink, green, white, black, and unspecified
abalone from 1916 to 2001. Data sources are California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Catch
Bulletins (1916-1983) and the DFG commercial landing receipt database (1984-2001).

1 Unless otherwise noted, all weights include both shell and meat.

                                                   8-1
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Abalone Serial Depletion
    Five species of abalone were commercially fished: red, pink, green, black, and
white. When combined, landing numbers from these five species give the appearance
of a stable fishery; however, individual species landings actually increased and fell in a
sequential manner (an occurrence known as serial depletion). The commercial abalone
fishery south of San Francisco provides an example of serial depletion that was masked
by combining landings for multiple species and multiple fishing areas. When the
abalone landings are divided by species, a pattern of depletion over time becomes
evident (Figure 8.2 through Figure 8.6, and Table 8.2). From 1952 to 1968, combined
landings appeared stable because pink abalone landing decreases were offset by
increases in red abalone landings. In 1971, pink abalone landings declined abruptly
when pink abalone size limits were raised to protect stocks. This decline was offset by
increases in green abalone landings, the result of a lower green abalone size limit. Red
abalone landings began to decline in 1968, but the drop was masked by increased
commercial fishing for green, black, and white abalones. Landings for these three
species rapidly peaked and then declined in the 1970s. In the early 1970s, substantial
increases in black abalone landings helped to maintain the appearance of stability in the
abalone fishery.
    Serial depletion also occurred by area. As nearshore areas were depleted,
fishermen traveled to more distant locations for abalone, until stocks in most areas had
collapsed. From 1952 to 1968, most red abalone were caught in central California.
Catches declined on the central coast due to fishing pressure from humans and an
expanding sea otter population. This decline caused the fishery to shift to the southern
California mainland and to Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, San Nicolas, and San Miguel
Islands. The pink abalone fishery persisted for some time as fishing


                     Commercial Landings of Red Abalone, 1950-2001
  thousands of pounds landed




                3,500
                3,000
                2,500
                2,000
                1,500
                1,000
                 500
                  0
                  1950    1960     1970    1980    1990    2000

Figure 8.2. Annual commercial landings (pounds) of red abalone from 1950 to 2001. Data sources are
California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Catch Bulletins (1950-1983) and the DFG commercial
landing receipt database (1984-2001). Red abalone were required to be sorted and weighed separately
beginning in 1950. Early landings of abalone from 1916 to 1949 primarily consisted of red abalone. The
commercial red abalone fishery closed in 1997.




                                                8-2
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
                           Commercial Landings of Pink Abalone, 1950-2001
       thousands of pounds landed

                     4,000
                     3,500
                     3,000
                     2,500
                     2,000
                     1,500
                     1,000
                      500
                       0
                       1950     1960    1970    1980     1990  2000

Figure 8.3. Annual commercial landings (pounds) of pink abalone from 1950 to 2001. Data sources are
California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Catch Bulletins (1950-1983) and the DFG commercial
landing receipt database (1984-2001). Pink abalone were required to be sorted and weighed separately
beginning in 1950. Early landings of abalone from 1916 to 1949 primarily consisted of red abalone. The
commercial pink abalone fishery closed in 1996.




                           Commercial Landings of Green Abalone, 1950-2001
  thousands of pounds landed




                     1,200

                     1,000

                      800

                      600
                      400

                      200

                       0
                       1950     1960     1970    1980     1990  2000

Figure 8.4. Annual commercial landings (pounds) of green abalone from 1950 to 2001. Data sources are
California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Catch Bulletins (1950-1983) and the DFG commercial
landing receipt database (1984-2001). Green abalone were required to be sorted and weighed
separately beginning in 1950. Early landings of abalone from 1916 to 1949 primarily consisted of red
abalone. The commercial green abalone fishery closed in 1996.




                                                    8-3
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
                       Commercial Landings of White Abalone, 1950-2001
  thousands of pounds landed

                160
                140
                120
                100
                 80
                 60
                 40
                 20
                 0
                 1950      1960     1970     1980    1990  2000

Figure 8.5. Annual commercial landings (pounds) of white abalone from 1950 to 2001. Data sources are
California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Catch Bulletins (1950-1983) and the DFG commercial
landing receipt database (1984-2001). White abalone were required to be sorted and weighed separately
beginning in 1950. Early landings of abalone from 1916 to 1949 primarily consisted of red abalone. The
commercial white abalone fishery closed in 1996.




                       Commercial Landings of Black Abalone, 1950-2001
  thousands of pounds landed




                2,500

                2,000

                1,500

                1,000

                 500

                   0
                   1950    1960     1970    1980     1990  2000

Figure 8.6. Annual commercial landings (pounds) of black abalone from 1950 to 2001. Data sources are
California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Catch Bulletins (1950-1983) and the DFG commercial
landing receipt database (1984-2001). Black abalone were required to be sorted and weighed separately
beginning in 1950. Early landings of abalone from 1916 to 1949 primarily consisted of red abalone. The
commercial black abalone fishery closed in 1993.

effort expanded into unfished areas. By the early 1980s, the commercial pink abalone
fishery had expanded throughout the available range, but landings had dwindled to
almost nothing. Green and white abalone landings were limited to specific areas,
suggesting that these species were limited in distribution before they were fished.
Overall, declines varied by area and species, but most landings had decreased to a
level that caused serious concern by 1995.

                                                8-4
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Abalone Fishery Regulation Overview
    Commercial take of abalone was first regulated in 1900 when shallow waters
were closed to fishing. In 1901, a size limit of 15 in. circumference was instated for all
abalone. A commercial fishing license for the take of abalone was established in 1909.
These early regulations have been followed by various combinations of management
measures, including landing requirements, restrictions on diving gear and other gear,
size limits, open/closed seasons, and open/closed areas. In 1949, commercial abalone
fishing was prohibited from Point Lobos (San Francisco County) to the California-
Oregon border. The commercial black abalone fishery was closed in 1993, and the
commercial fisheries for green, pink, and white abalones were closed in 1996. In 1997,
fishing for all species of abalone was prohibited from San Francisco to the U.S.-Mexico
border, effectively ending commercial fishing in California.
    Recreational take of abalone first became regulated in 1911 when fishing
seasons were established. In 1913 the first bag limit of 10 abalone was introduced for
all species in southern California. A recreational fishing license requirement for the take
of abalone was established in 1931. The black abalone recreational fishery was closed
in 1993. In 1996, the recreational fisheries for green, pink, and white abalones were
closed. By 1997 the entire recreational abalone fishery was closed south of San
Francisco.
    Commercial fishing was prohibited north of Point Lobos in San Francisco County
in 1949. Since then, the northern California red abalone populations have supported a
viable recreational fishery with the help of management measures including the
prohibition of scuba or other underwater breathing devices, species-specific
management (red abalone only), seasonal closure, strict take limits, and most recently,
a take reporting system. Northern California recreational abalone fishermen have been
limited to breath-hold diving (scuba is prohibited) since 1953, which protects deep-water
stocks beyond the range of free-divers. In 1998 an abalone stamp was introduced to
generate revenue for population assessments, management, and enforcement. In 2000
an abalone report card became mandatory to help control illegal take and to document
catch and effort. An annual limit of 100 abalone was established for 2000. In 2002 the
daily bag limit for red abalone was reduced from 4 to 3, and the annual limit was
reduced from 100 to 24 per person due to concerns about the status of stocks. The red
abalone season is open from April through June, and August through November.
    Recreational abalone landings have been difficult to monitor without a state-wide,
mandatory landing reporting system. One of the only sources for estimating
recreational landings in southern California was the commercial passenger diving boat
(CPDB) log book system, which provided only gross trends in the CPDB industry.
These trends indicate that green and pink abalones dominated the diving boat catch
before 1983. From 1986 to 1990 the number of pink abalone landings declined, leaving
green abalone as the predominant species. Red abalone landings increased steadily
during this time period, while small landings of black abalone and white abalone
declined and eventually disappeared.
    Creel and telephone surveys have been used in northern California to estimate
annual harvest and effort by recreational divers. Between 1983 and 1989, estimates
indicate that abalone divers harvested an average of 685,000 red abalone during
235,000 trips (or “effort days”) per year. For 2000, preliminary estimates from

                                          8-5
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
incomplete abalone report cards indicate that 728,000 red abalone were taken during
202,000 effort days by approximately 38,276 recreational divers. Ninety-six percent of
abalone fishing effort occurred in Mendocino and Sonoma counties in 2000. Diver and
shore-picker effort data from 1995 to 2000 show a pattern of serial depletion as abalone
were taken from progressively deeper water and from more remote populations at
Sonoma County and southern Mendocino county creel survey sites.

Status of Biological Knowledge
     Abalones occur in the coastal waters of California from the intertidal zone to
depths of 200 ft. The red abalone range extends from Oregon into Baja California,
Mexico. Red abalone inhabit intertidal and shallow subtidal areas in northern and
central California; however, they are exclusively subtidal in southern California, where
they prefer cooler, upwelling locations along the mainland and the northwestern
Channel Islands. Black abalone is found from Mendocino County, California to Baja
California, Mexico, and is largely intertidal, extending to a depth of about 20 ft in
southern California. Pink, green, and white abalones are associated with the warm,
temperate waters south of Point Conception. Their range extends into Baja California,
Mexico and the southeastern Channel Islands, although they are stratified by depth:
green abalone is more abundant at shallower depths than pink abalone, and pink
abalone occur at shallower depths than white abalone. White abalone occur at the
deepest depths of all California species. They are often found on rocky substrata near
the interface of sand and rock at depths of 75 to 200 ft, although they have been found
as shallow as 25 ft. The less-common flat and pinto abalones are generally found north
of Point Conception, where water temperatures are predominately cooler. Most
California abalones are found in the boulder and rock habitat associated with kelp
forests. Abalone abundance is highest where physical conditions allow good kelp
growth and where drift kelp is available.
     Abalones live as long as 30 years. Growth is slow and highly variable; for
example, 6 to 12 years are required to reach the minimum sport legal size (7 in.) for red
abalone. Age at sexual maturity varies among species, ranging from 1 to 5 years.
     Male and female abalones release their sperm and eggs into the sea at the same
time (an event called “synchronous broadcast spawning”). The duration and timing of
spawning varies by species (Table 8.1). A minimum density of spawners is essential for
successful broadcast spawning. When only a few, widely-spaced animals are present,
they can be too far apart for successful mixing of eggs and sperm; successful
fertilization dramatically decreases when abalone are more than about 5 ft apart. Thus,
when population densities drop below a critical threshold, population declines and local
extinction can result despite the presence of actively spawning individuals. This
explains why abalones are especially vulnerable to collapse at low densities.
     Once fertilized, abalone eggs sink to the bottom and hatch into larvae. Larvae
spend several days to a week in the water column, then settle to the bottom again,
changing into juveniles when they encounter suitable habitat with encrusting coralline
algae. Larvae are retained in the vicinity of appropriate habitat by the short larval period
and by the dampening of local currents that occurs in kelp forest habitat. This limited
dispersal reduces abalone larvae’s ability to repopulate depleted areas.



                                           8-6
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
   Mortality rates for larval and juvenile abalone are very high. Studies in both
southern and northern California have shown that major recruitment events (successful
spawning, settlement, and survival of juvenile abalone to the adult stage) occur only
occasionally.

Table 8.1. Abalone biological information summary

Species    Current Range        Depth                 Foods
                              Spawning
                              season
Red      southern Oregon to Baja   intertidal to  N. CA: Oct. - Feb.   bull kelp, giant kelp
       California, Mexico      24 m      S. CA: year-round   Laminaria, Egregia,
       (considered absent from                       Pterygophora, Ulva
       southern California
       mainland)
Pink     Pt. Conception to Baja    lower      March –        Plocamium, Eisenia,
       California, Mexico      intertidal to  November        Macrocystis,
                      60 m                  Dictyopteris
Green     Pt. Conception to Baja    low tide line  early summer to    Gelidium, Pterocladia,
       California, Mexico      to 18 m     early fall       Plocamium, Gigartina,
                                         red algae, bull kelp,
                                         giant kelp
                      intertidal               giant kelp, Egregia
Black     Mendocino County,              late spring and
       California to Baja              summer
       California, Mexico
                      25 to 60 m
White     Pt. Conception to Baja            late winter to early  Laminaria, Agarum
       California, Mexico              spring         fimbriatum
                              April to June     small algae
Pinto     Alaska to Baja California,  Shallow
       Mexico            water in
                      north; deep
                      colder water
                      in south
                      6 to 21 m    not known       not known
Flat     Oregon to San Diego,
       California
       from the draft Abalone Recovery and Management Plan, 30 Dec. 2002 version

    Very small juvenile abalone feed on bacterial and diatom films. Older juveniles
and adults feed primarily on drift algae. Abalone feed preferentially on giant and other
kelps (Table 8.1). Because abalone and sea urchins share a common food source,
they compete for food and space.
    Environmental conditions can have a profound effect on abalone habitat and
populations. Storms can kill abalone, and limit distribution in areas of greatest storm
exposure. El Niño events bring warm, nutrient-poor seawater northward along the
coast, which is detrimental to kelp growth. When food availability is reduced, abalone
growth rates can slow dramatically. In addition, red abalone experiences decreased
settlement of larvae and recruitment of juveniles during El Niño periods.
    Abalones, especially juveniles, are preyed upon by a wide variety of animals
including crabs, lobsters, gastropods, octopuses, sea stars, sea otters, and fishes.

                                                   8-7
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Larger abalones are partially protected from most of these predators by their size;
however, the bat ray in southern California and the sea otter in central California prey
selectively on larger abalone. Along the Central Coast, sea otters have removed most
large, exposed abalone.
    Withering syndrome, an abalone disease, is a major source of abalone deaths in
some populations. This disease can severely impact abalones throughout large areas,
as it did with black abalone at the Channel Islands. Research has been directed at
developing resistant strains and treatment to protect stock in culture facilities.

Status of the Populations
   The status of California abalone varies from fairly robust populations (red
abalone in northern California) to near extinction (white abalone). The status of each
abalone species is discussed below.

Red Abalone

     Northern California - Red abalone populations in northern California have
supported a viable recreational fishery for decades. While legal-sized adults (7 in.) are
still relatively abundant, population and fishery data analyzed in 2001 revealed four
trends that are of concern:

    •  Concentration of fishery effort and increased take
    •  Evidence of poor recruitment
    •  Declines in deep-water stocks
    •  Local depletion

    Estimates of average take and effort for 1998 through 2000 have shown an
increase compared to 1983 through 1989, with substantial concentration of fishery effort
in Sonoma and Mendocino counties. This effort shift has been accompanied by a 25%
increase in take. When poaching estimates (217,000 lb) are added to the estimated
recreational take, the total take exceeds 1.7 million lb. This level of take approaches
the average red abalone harvest in southern California, which was unsustainable and
preceded fishery collapse.
    Recruitment events are necessary to ensure replacement of animals removed by
fishermen and predators. Significant recruitment of red abalone (large numbers of
animals measuring less than 4 in.) was last observed between 1986 and 1992 at Van
Damme State Park in Mendocino County. Since 1992, the abundance of abalone
between 2 and 5 in. has declined substantially at this location. Recent surveys at four
other northern coastal sites (Point Cabrillo Reserve in Mendocino County, and Bodega
Bay Marine Reserve, Salt Point State Park and Fort Ross State Park in Sonoma
County) revealed few young-of-the-year (abalone less than one year old) and emergent
(not hidden; seen without moving habitat or using lights) recruits. The reduced number
of sub-legal animals implies poor recruitment over the last ten years. Given the slow
growth rates of abalone, a successful spawn in any year would not reach sport-legal
size (7 in.) for 6 to 12 years.



                                          8-8
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
    The prohibition of the use of scuba and surface-supplied air while taking abalone
establishes a depth refuge for a portion of the stock, because free divers generally
cannot dive deeper than 28 ft. However, declines in deep-water stocks are evident at
two of four sites surveyed between 1986 and 2000. Decreases in deep-water stocks
mean that “refuge by depth” may not provide sufficient population protection.
    Catch and effort data provide evidence of depletion at heavily fished sites.
Increased take of abalone from deeper water and from more distant locations resulted
in a decline in the number of abalone taken per trip. At one heavily impacted location
(Moat Creek in Mendocino County), the distance traveled from access points to take
locations doubled for shore-pickers between the 1989 and 1994, and between 1995 and
2000. Aerial surveys completed between 1975 and 1985 showed a significant decline
in the number of shore-pickers, while diving effort increased significantly. This
represents a shift from intertidal to subtidal fishing as shallow stocks are depleted.

    Central and Southern California - Based on long-term studies, the trend in red
abalone abundance is one of decline in all locations surveyed except San Miguel Island.
Stocks in key areas in southern California (Santa Rosa Island, Santa Cruz Island, and
the California mainland) appear to have been eliminated, and stocks in the remaining
areas show little evidence of recovery. In a 2001 survey at Santa Rosa Island and
Santa Cruz Island, red abalone abundance (the number of abalone encountered by one
diver per hour) ranged from 0 to 7.6 abalone at Santa Rosa Island, and 0 to 1.4 abalone
at Santa Cruz Island. San Miguel Island is the only location in southern California that
has a self-sustaining population.
    In central California, which is occupied by sea otters, abalone populations are
stable but do not provide fishable stocks. The red abalone population decreased by
approximately 84% after the return of the sea otters. Abalone populations in central
California “otter areas” appear sustainable, but have a lower average size of 3 in. (half
that of abalone in areas devoid of otters).
    North of the sea otter range in central California and at the Farallon Islands,
abalone stocks are depressed. In a dive survey at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in central
California, densities of red abalone were 0.02 /m2 , which is one-tenth of the lowest
density found in heavily fished areas off northern California. At the Farallon Islands,
surveys in 2000 found that areas of historic high abalone abundance (based on
commercial diver observations) had low densities.

Pink Abalone
    The pink abalone was once common in southern California. Monitoring sites in
the Channel Islands show that the abundance of pink abalone has declined since 1985.
In timed swims conducted in 1996 and 1997, an average of 1 to 1.5 pink abalone per
hour were found. Anacapa Island had the highest number of pink abalone of the five
islands monitored.

Green Abalone
   The green abalone was once common in southern California, particularly in the
warmer parts of the southern California Bight (San Clemente, Santa Catalina, and
Santa Barbara Islands; Cortez Bank; and along the mainland from the Palos Verdes

                                         8-9
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Peninsula in Los Angeles County, south). Green abalone were rare in surveys at San
Clemente and Santa Catalina Islands from 1995 through 1999 and in 2001. Densities
ranged from 0 to less than 40 abalone/hectare (0.004/m2 ). Withering syndrome may
have affected green abalone at these islands.

Black Abalone
    The black abalone was an abundant species in California until the mid-1980s; it
once occurred in such high concentrations that individuals were regularly observed
stacked on top of one another. Due to population declines, the National Marine
Fisheries Service designated the black abalone as a candidate for listing under the
federal Endangered Species Act.
    Withering syndrome spread throughout the Channel Islands and the remaining
mainland populations of black abalone as far north as Pacifica in San Mateo County. At
most locations, black abalone have virtually disappeared. At Point Arguello in Santa
Barbara County, black abalone densities increased from 1992 to 1993; however, after
withering syndrome was first observed in 1994, densities started to decline and
remained at a low level (1,000 abalone/ha, or 0.1/m2) through November 2000.
Densities at Point Arguello increased in 2001 to 2,500 abalone/ha (0.25/m2), but this is
far lower than historic population levels.

White Abalone
     On 29 May 2001, the National Marine Fisheries Service listed the white abalone
as a federally endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act, making it
the first marine invertebrate listed as a result of human harvest. Despite the fact that
part of the white abalone fishery has been closed since 1977, densities have continued
to fall. Current population estimates indicate that white abalone have declined by as
much as 99% since the 1970s. An abundance estimate based on deep survey data
from 1997 was 1,600 animals; in comparison, a conservative estimate of the former
baseline white abalone population abundance derived from commercial landings data
(1969-1978) is 363,000 animals.
     Remnant populations of adult white abalone remain only at the deepest portions
(greater than 108 ft) of their former distribution. Their distribution also appears to be
limited to a narrow strip of habitat along the rock/sand interface of isolated boulders.
There is no evidence of a significant recruitment event since the late 1960s or early
1970s. As the white abalone life span is estimated at about 35 to 40 years, the
remaining individuals are likely approaching the end of their lives.
     With densities too low for successful reproduction, and because of natural
mortality, recovery of the white abalone is unlikely without significant human
intervention. Other complications that may hinder or preclude recovery despite human
intervention include reduced genetic diversity due to the small size of the gene pool,
and outbreaks of withering syndrome.
     A captive rearing program is now underway. In 1999, 18 adult broodstock were
collected from deep habitats and brought to two culturing facilities. Three of these
animals have been successfully spawned, producing more than 100,000 juveniles. A
significant portion of these cultured white abalone recently succumbed to withering



                                         8-10
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
syndrome, although it is not known whether wild populations are also affected. Genetic,
disease and legal concerns must be addressed before outplanting of cultured abalone

can begin. In July 2002, a federal recovery team was convened by National Marine
Fisheries Service to manage recovery of white abalone.

Pinto Abalone
    Pinto abalone are more common in northern California than in southern
California. In 1970 this species comprised about 13% of the abalone landings. Today
pinto abalone are very rare throughout northern California, making up less that 1% of
the population. This species was not a major component of the commercial or
recreational catch.

Flat Abalone
    Little is known about flat abalone. In central California, abundances within sea
otter range appear to have declined steadily since the 1970s, when 31% to 38% of
abalone populations consisted of flat abalone. Recent surveys reveal that flat abalone
currently comprise only 5% of the total population, which is now dominated by red
abalone in deep crevice habitat. In northern California, flat abalone have always been
rare, making up less than 5% of the population. Due to their small size, flat abalone is
not usually targeted by the recreational fishery.

Management Considerations
    The California Department of Fish and Game prepared a draft Abalone Recovery
and Management Plan (ARMP) for all California abalones in 2002. The ARMP was
mandated by the California Legislature (Fish and Game Code §5522). It provides a
cohesive framework for recovery of depleted stocks in central and southern California,
for the management of the existing northern California fishery, and for the management
of any future fisheries. The draft ARMP was developed with the input of various
constituents including: the Recreational Abalone Advisory Committee, commercial
abalone fishermen, the ARMP Advisory Panel, and members of the general public. The
Fish and Game Commission (Commission) is responsible for the management of
abalone in California, and will adopt a final version of the ARMP. Once the ARMP is
adopted by the Commission, it will guide abalone assessment, research, regulatory and
enforcement activities.
    The history of the California abalone fishery points to the need for defined
recovery and management guidelines. Abalone species in central and southern
California experienced stock collapse due to both natural and human-related causes,
resulting in the 1997 closure of all abalone fishing in those areas. The only abalone
fishery currently open in the state is the northern California red abalone recreational
fishery.
    The five formerly fished species in central and southern California (red, pink,
green, black and white) are at risk of further population declines and, in one case,
extinction. The white abalone has been listed as an endangered species under the
federal Endangered Species Act, while the black abalone is a candidate for listing.



                                          8-11
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Without human intervention, and possibly even with it, these species may never
recover.
    For the only remaining abalone fishery (the northern red abalone), it is critical to
maintain a sustainable resource. In the future, some of the depleted abalone species
may recover to levels considered sustainable for fishing. Therefore, management
guidelines such as those presented in the draft ARMP are needed for determining
allowable take levels and for closing and reopening fisheries.


       Peter L. Haaker, Ian Taniguchi, Jennifer K. O’Leary, Konstantin Karpov,
                                  and Mary Patyten
                        California Department of Fish and Game

                                            Mia Tegner
                               Scripps Institution of Oceanography

                                         Revised May 2003


Further Reading
Allee, WC 1931. Animal aggregations: A study in general sociology. University of Chicago Press,
  Chicago, IL.
Ault, JS and JD DeMartini. 1987. Movement and dispersion of red abalone, Haliotis rufescens, in
  northern California. Calif. Fish Game, 73:196-213.
California Department of Fish and Game. December, 2002. Draft Abalone Recovery and Management
  Plan. Calif. Dept. of Fish and Game. Monterey, CA. 249 p.
Cox, KW 1962. California abalones, Family Haliotidae. Calif. Dept. of Fish and Game, Fish Bull. 118:1-
  133.
Davis, GE, PL Haaker, and DV Richards. 1996. Status and trends of white abalone at the California
  Channel Islands. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 125: 42-48.
Davis, GE, PL Haaker and DV Richards. 1998. The perilous condition of white abalone Haliotis
  sorenseni, Bartsch, 1940. Journal of Shellfish Research 17(3): 871-875.
Geiger, DL. 1999. Distribution and biogeography of the recent Haliotidae (Gastropoda; vestigastropoda)
  worldwide. Bollettino Malacacologico 35(5-12):57-120.
Haaker, PL. 1974. Assessment of abalone resources at the Channel Islands. Halvorson, WL and GJ
  Maender, editors in The Fourth California Islands Symposium: Update on the status of resources.
  Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara, CA.
Haaker, PL, DO Parker and CS Chun. 1995. Growth of Black Abalone, Haliotis cracherodii, Leach at San
  Miguel Island and Point Arguello, Calif. J. Shell. Res. 14(2):519-525.
Haaker, PL, DO Parker, K C Barsky, and CS Chun. 1998. Growth of red abalone , Haliotis rufescens
  (Swainson) at Johnsons Lee, Santa Rosa Island, Calif. J. Shell. Res. 17(3): 847-854.
Hines, AH and JS Pearse. 1982. Abalone, shells, and sea otters: dynamics of prey populations in Central
  California. Ecology. 63(5):1547-1560.
Hobday, AJ and MJ Tegner. 2000. Status review of white abalone (Haliotis sorenseni) throughout its
  range in California and Mexico. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOAA-TM-NMFS-SWR-035. U. S.
  Department of Commerce.
Karpov, KA and Tegner, MJ. 1992. Abalone. in California's Living Marine Resources and Their Utilization.
  WS Leet, CM Dewees, and CW Haugen, editors. Sea Grant Extension Publication UCSGEP-92-12.
  Sea Grant Extension Program, Wildlife Conservation Department, University of California, Davis. pp.
  33-36.



                                                8-12
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Karpov, KA 1991. A combined telephone and creel survey of the red abalone, Haliotis rufescens
  (Swainson), sport fishery in California from Monterey to the Oregon border, April through November
  1989. Calif. Dept. Fish and Game, Mar. Res. Div., Admin. Rep. 91-2. 72 p.
Karpov, KA, J Geibel, and P Law. 1997. Relative abundance and size composition of subtidal abalone
  (Haliotis sp.), sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus sp.) and abundance of sea stars off Fitzgerald Marine
  Reserve, California, September 1993. Calif. Dept. Fish Game Mar. Res. Admin. Rep.. No. 97-1, 16
  pp.
Karpov, KA, PL Haaker, D Albin, IK Taniguchi, and D Kushner.1998. The red abalone, Haliotis
  rufescens, in California: importance of depth refuge to abalone management. J. Shellfish Res.
  17:863-870.
Karpov, KA, PL Haaker, IK Taniguchi and L Rogers-Bennett. 2000. Serial depletion and the collapse of
  the California abalone (Haliotis) fishery. In Workshop on rebuilding abalone stocks in British
  Columbia. A. Campbell, editor. Can. Spec. Publ. Fish Aquat. Sci. 130 p.
Karpov, KA, MJ Tegner, L Rogers-Bennett, PE Kalvass and IK Taniguchi. 2001. Interactions among red
  abalones and sea urchins in fished and reserve sites in northern California: implications of
  competition to management. J. Shellfish Res. 20(2): 743-753.
Parker, DO, PL Haaker, and KC Henderson. 1988. Densities and size composition of red abalone,
  Haliotis rufescens, at five locations on the Mendocino and Sonoma County coasts, September 1986.
  Calif. Dept. Fish and Game, Mar. Res. Div., Admin. Rep. No. 88-5, 65 pp.
Rogers-Bennett, L and Pearse, JS. 1998. Experimental seeding of hatchery-reared juvenile red abalone
  in northern California. J. Shellfish Res. (17)3: 877-880.
Tegner, MJ 1989. The California abalone fishery: production, ecological interactions, and prospects for
  the future. Pages 401- 420. In: Marine invertebrate fisheries: their assessment and management. JF
  Caddy, editor. John Wiley and Sons, New York.
Tegner, MJ and RA Butler. 1985. The survival and mortality of seeded and native red abalones, Haliotis
  rufescens, on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Calif. Fish and Game 71(3):150-163.
Tegner, MJ, PA Breen, and CE Lennert. 1989. Population biology of red abalone, Haliotis rufescens, in
  southern California and management of the red and pink, H. corrugata, abalone fisheries. Fish. Bull.,
  U.S. 87:313-339.
Taniguchi, Ian. Associate Marine Biologist. Personal Communication. Marine Region. California
  Department of Fish and Game. Los Alamitos, CA.
Tutschulte, TC 1976. The comparative ecology of three sympatric abalone. Ph.D. Dissertation. Scripps
  Institution of Oceanography, San Diego.
Wendell, F. 1994. Relationship between sea otter range expansion and red
  abalone abundance and size distribution in Central California. California
  Fish and Game (80)2: 45-56.

Table 8.2. Commercial landings (pounds) of red, pink, green, white, black, and unidentified abalone,
1916-2001
    Unidentified    Red     Pink     Green     White    Black    Total
Year                                                  Year
    abalone     abalone    abalone   abalone    abalone   abalone   abalone
      762,001     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------   762,001
1916                                                  1916
      637,780     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------   637,780
1917                                                  1917
      602,919     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------   602,919
1918                                                  1918
      759,203     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------   759,203
1919                                                  1919
      806,716     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------   806,716
1920                                                  1920
     1,481,170     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  1,481,170
1921                                                  1921
     1,523,394     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  1,523,394
1922                                                  1922
     1,555,134     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  1,555,134
1923                                                  1923
     2,241,812     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  2,241,812
1924                                                  1924
     2,352,861     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  2,352,861
1925                                                  1925
     2,060,770     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  2,060,770
1926                                                  1926
     2,816,530     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  2,816,530
1927                                                  1927


                                                 8-13
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 8.2. Commercial landings (pounds) of red, pink, green, white, black, and unidentified abalone,
1916-2001
    Unidentified    Red     Pink     Green     White    Black     Total
Year                                                   Year
    abalone     abalone    abalone    abalone    abalone   abalone    abalone
     2,066,243     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  2,066,243
1928                                                   1928
     3,438,858     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  3,438,858
1929                                                   1929
     3,176,513     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  3,176,513
1930                                                   1930
     3,262,166     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  3,262,166
1931                                                   1931
     2,817,345     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  2,817,345
1932                                                   1932
     2,756,188     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  2,756,188
1933                                                   1933
     3,223,492     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  3,223,492
1934                                                   1934
     3,870,921     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  3,870,921
1935                                                   1935
     3,302,195     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  3,302,195
1936                                                   1936
     2,863,175     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  2,863,175
1937                                                   1937
     2,121,468     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  2,121,468
1938                                                   1938
     1,804,440     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  1,804,440
1939                                                   1939
     1,724,084     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  1,724,084
1940                                                   1940
     1,002,330     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  1,002,330
1941                                                   1941
      164,462     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------   164,462
1942                                                   1942
      680,274     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------   680,274
1943                                                   1943
     1,630,402     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  1,630,402
1944                                                   1944
     2,429,312     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  2,429,312
1945                                                   1945
     2,095,762     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  2,095,762
1946                                                   1946
     2,669,285     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  2,669,285
1947                                                   1947
     3,195,852     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  3,195,852
1948                                                   1948
     3,599,998     ------    ------    ------    ------    ------  3,599,998
1949                                                   1949
        ------  1,431,071   2,019,710     9,958     ------    ------  3,460,739
1950                                                   1950
        ------  1,352,317   2,719,381     8,367     ------    ------  4,080,065
1951                                                   1951
        ------  1,182,022   3,587,636     4,186     ------    ------  4,773,844
1952                                                   1952
        ------  1,412,948   3,439,657     5,852     ------    ------  4,858,457
1953                                                   1953
        108   1,394,595   2,703,219     1,223     ------    ------  4,099,145
1954                                                   1954
        ------  1,996,511   2,189,039     1,225     ------    ------  4,186,775
1955                                                   1955
        ------  2,428,393   1,845,006    14,002     ------     660   4,288,061
1956                                                   1956
        ------  2,566,813   2,804,111    47,880     ------    1,950   5,420,754
1957                                                   1957
        ------  1,677,404   2,545,709      905     ------    ------  4,224,018
1958                                                   1958
        ------  2,180,658   2,375,531      560    5,075     ------  4,561,824
1959                                                   1959
        ------  2,693,857   1,572,096      455     ------    ------  4,266,408
1960                                                   1960
        ------  2,873,628   1,678,275      526    1,337     ------  4,553,766
1961                                                   1961
        ------  2,462,200   1,717,271     3,710     ------    ------  4,183,181
1962                                                   1962
        ------  2,807,920   1,502,639    33,319     ------    ------  4,343,878
1963                                                   1963
        ------  2,369,564   1,612,376    97,273     ------    ------  4,079,213
1964                                                   1964
        ------  2,490,875   2,071,242    12,129     438     ------  4,574,684
1965                                                   1965
        ------  2,656,408   2,162,941    145,420     ------    ------  4,964,769
1966                                                   1966
        ------  2,697,610   1,619,746    106,545    4,100      200   4,428,201
1967                                                   1967
        ------  1,776,054   2,270,108    427,135     845      700   4,474,842
1968                                                   1968
        ------  1,564,205   1,900,206    157,263    28,009     4,991   3,654,674
1969                                                   1969
        ------  1,194,788   1,408,921    270,200    11,212    15,327   2,900,448
1970                                                   1970
        ------  1,193,948    347,983   1,089,706    36,741    46,650   2,715,028
1971                                                   1971
        ------  1,104,462    403,709    424,808   143,819   1,014,892   3,091,690
1972                                                   1972


                                                  8-14
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 8.2. Commercial landings (pounds) of red, pink, green, white, black, and unidentified abalone,
1916-2001
    Unidentified    Red     Pink     Green    White    Black     Total
Year                                                   Year
    abalone     abalone   abalone    abalone   abalone   abalone    abalone
        ------  663,919    371,352   156,804    83,112   1,912,519   3,187,706
1973                                                   1973
        ------  751,060    455,324   121,563   113,765   1,145,396   2,587,108
1974                                                   1974
        ------  742,769    458,235   170,927    71,821    684,793   2,128,545
1975                                                   1975
        ------  739,621    431,143   120,489    81,907    356,951   1,730,111
1976                                                   1976
        ------  537,450    318,494    97,457    17,603    463,301   1,434,305
1977                                                   1977
        ------  488,800    287,052    92,987    3,633    420,045   1,292,517
1978                                                   1978
        ------  439,476    156,491    61,166     502    331,489    989,124
1979                                                   1979
        ------  516,304    139,267    63,234    1,071    518,619   1,238,495
1980                                                   1980
         112   429,922    94,257    64,003     162    521,007   1,109,463
1981                                                   1981
         256   430,902    86,282    88,696     907    633,400   1,240,443
1982                                                   1982
          55   230,973    67,239    56,910     482    484,366    840,025
1983                                                   1983
        1,156   299,477    57,128    31,946     449    436,359    826,514
1984                                                   1984
        1,015   368,499    68,731    24,133    1,655    359,898    823,931
1985                                                   1985
        5,777   263,070    51,872    25,854     876    267,514    614,962
1986                                                   1986
        1,550   391,030    31,597    28,985       2   309,786    762,951
1987                                                   1987
          75   324,434    19,025    23,521       2   201,660    568,716
1988                                                   1988
         775   474,978    22,554    20,150      22   222,671    741,150
1989                                                   1989
         217   378,914    23,268    27,333      17    94,193    523,942
1990                                                   1990
        1,350   330,974    12,883    8,162       3    27,220    380,593
1991                                                   1991
        ------  448,593    18,229    10,304     ------   37,714    514,840
1992                                                   1992
        ------  428,518    19,932    10,858     ------    2,031    461,340
1993                                                   1993
          15   285,969    15,575     992      47     ------   302,596
1994                                                   1994
        ------  244,807    16,398    1,073      37     ------   262,314
1995                                                   1995
          67   229,252       4      56    ------    ------   229,379
1996                                                   1996
        ------  112,323     ------    ------    ------    ------   112,323
1997                                                   1997
        ------    ------    ------    ------    ------    ------    ------
1998                                                   1998
        ------    ------    ------    ------    ------    ------    ------
1999                                                   1999
        ------    ------    ------    ------    ------    ------    ------
2000                                                   2000
        ------    ------    ------    ------    ------    ------    ------
2001                                                   2001
------ Landings data not available.
1. Data sources: DFG Catch Bulletins (1916-1983) and DFG commercial landing receipt database (1984-
2001).
2. Identification of abalone species landed was not required prior to 1950, however commercial abalone
landings from 1916 to 1949 consisted primarily of red abalone.
3. The first reported landings for species other than red were as follows: green (1950), pink (1950), black
(1956), and white (1959). Insignificant commercial landings of pinto and flat abalone (less than 100
pounds) were made in a few years, but are not included in this summary table.
4. The commercial take of black abalone was prohibited in 1993.
5. The commercial take of green, pink, and white abalone was prohibited in 1996.
6. In 1997, a moratorium was placed on the commercial take of all abalone.




                                                  8-15
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
                    8-16
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
                           9. RED SEA URCHIN

Overview of the Fishery
    The commercial fishery for the red sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus franciscanus,
has been one of California’s most valuable fisheries for more than a decade. This
fishery is relatively new, having developed over the last 30 years (Figure 9.1 and Table
9.1), and caters mainly to the Japanese export market. Archaeological evidence,
however, suggests that sea urchins in California have been fished by coastal Native
Americans for centuries.


                    Commercial Landings of Red Sea Urchin, 1916-2001
  millions of pounds landed




                60

                50
                40

                30
                20

                10
                0
                1910  1920  1930  1940  1950  1960  1970  1980   1990  2000


Figure 9.1. Annual commercial landings (pounds) of red sea urchin from 1916 to 2001. Data sources are
the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Catch Bulletins (1916-1983) and the DFG commercial
landing receipt database (1984-2001).

    The gonads of both male and female urchin are the object of the fishery and are
referred to as “roe”, or “uni” in Japanese. Sea urchins are collected by divers operating
in near shore waters. Divers are size-selective, and check gonad quality while fishing to
ensure marketability. The price paid to fishermen for gonads is based on quality.
Gonads are graded by size, color, texture and firmness, all of which are affected by the
urchin’s stage of gonad development and food supply. Fishermen are paid less than
$0.20 to more than $2.00 per lb for whole urchins, with the highest prices garnered
during the Japanese New Year holidays.
    In the last few years, the red urchin fishery has become fully exploited throughout
its range in northern and southern California. Because of predation by sea otters, sea
urchin stocks in central California occur at densities too low to sustain a commercial
fishery. The purple sea urchin, S. purpuratus, which occurs over the same geographical
range as the red sea urchin, is also harvested in California on a limited basis (see
purple sea urchin status report).

Southern California Fishery
    The fishery in southern California began in 1971 as part of a National Marine
Fisheries Service program to develop fisheries for underutilized marine species. The


Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                               9-1
fishery was also seen as a way to curb the destructive grazing of sea urchins on giant
kelp. Prices for southern California urchin are typically higher than for northern
California urchin due to the longer market presence of the southern urchin, and
consistently higher gonad quality (smaller size and sweeter taste).
    There have been two periods of rapid fishery expansion, one in southern
California and one in northern California. The first rapid expansion culminated in 1981
when landings peaked at 25 million lb in southern California (Figure 9.2). Fishermen
entering the fishery from the declining commercial abalone fishery contributed to the
rapid escalation of the urchin fishery. Sea urchin landings decreased following the El
Niño event of 1982-1983 when warm water weakened or killed kelp, the primary food

                         Commercial Landings of Red Sea Urchin by Area


                  35
    millions of pounds landed




                  30
                  25
                  20
                                                            North
                  15
                                                            South
                  10
                   5
                   0
                   1970    1975    1980      1985    1990    1995    2000

Figure 9.2. Annual commercial landings (pounds) of red sea urchin in northern California and southern
California from 1971 to 2001. Data source is the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG)
commercial landing receipt database.


                     Southern California Landings of Red Sea Urchins by Area of Capture

                  100%
  California Landings
  Percent of Southern




                  80%

                  60%

                  40%

                  20%

                  0%
                   1980        1985         1990        1995       2000

                         Northern Channel Islands     Southern Channel Islands   Mainland

Figure 9.3. The proportion of commercial red sea urchin landings in southern California taken from the
northern Channel Islands, southern Channel Islands, and mainland from 1981 to 2001. Data source is
California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) commercial landing receipt database.



Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                                          9-2
source for sea urchins. Landings did not recover until the 1985-1986 season, due in
part to the strengthening of the Japanese yen relative to the US dollar, which gave
California fishermen and exporters more economic incentives.
    The majority of southern California sea urchin landings have come from the
northern Channel Islands off Santa Barbara. This area, with its large, accessible
stocks nurtured by lush kelp beds, supported the red sea urchin fishery in its early
years. From 1973 to 1977, 80% to 90% of red urchin landings originated from these
islands. Since the late 1990s, however, landings have decreased from the northern
Channel Islands as fishing effort shifted south to San Clemente Island, San Nicolas
Island, and the San Diego area (Figure 9.3). More recently, there has been a reported
reversal of this trend as northern Channel Island kelp beds rebound from the 1997-1998
El Niño. These spatial shifts have been accompanied by catch decreases throughout
the region (Figure 9.2). In 1990, the southern California sea urchin catch peaked at
over 27 million lb; however, the catch has declined steadily to 8.8 million lb in 2001. In
the 1990s, the fishery was impacted by two El Niño events (1992-1994 and 1997-1998)
and a weakening Japanese economy that lowered demand and ex-vessel prices; both
factors contributed to reduced fishing effort and catches.

Northern California Fishery
    The northern California commercial sea urchin fishery began in 1972, and
remained insignificant until 1977, when 386,000 lb were landed in the Fort Bragg region.
The second major fishery expansion began in 1985 (Figure 9.2), fueled partly by
decreasing landings in southern California and favorable monetary exchange rates.
The large and unexploited sea urchin biomass in northern California sparked a “gold
rush” as hundreds of new fishermen entered the unregulated fishery. In northern
California (from Half Moon Bay in San Mateo County to Crescent City in Del Norte
County) landings jumped from 1.9 million lb in 1985 to 30.5 million lb in 1988, far

                       Northern California Landings of Red Sea Urchins and
                            Catch Per Unit of Effort (CPUE)
                35,000                                      2,500
  thousands of pounds landed




                30,000
                                                         2,000   CPUE (lbs/diver-day)
                25,000
                                      Catch
                                                         1,500
                                      CPUE
                20,000

                15,000                                      1,000
                10,000
                                                         500
                 5,000

                  -                                       0
                     1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001

Figure 9.4. Comparison of northern California red sea urchin landings (pounds) and CPUE (pounds per
diver-day) from 1988 to 2001. Data sources are California Department of Fish and Game (DFG)
commercial landing receipt database (1988-2001) and sea urchin logbooks (1988-1992). There were no
logbooks prior to 1988.



Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                                        9-3
exceeding landings from southern California. Northern California sea urchin landings
and catch per unit of effort (CPUE) began a steep decline in 1989. Landings leveled off
in 1995 at about 3 to 4 million lb annually, and CPUE leveled off in 1993 at about 700 to
800 lb per fishing day (Figure 9.4). Landings data for 2001 show a catch of 4.1 million
lb with fishermen earning $3.9 million. In northern California, Fort Bragg has remained
the center of the fishery, while the ports of Albion and Point Arena in Mendocino County
and Bodega Bay in Marin County together account for about half of the catch. Rocky
reefs around Crescent City also support a small fishery.

Management History
    Responsibility for managing the sea urchin fishery originally lay with the
California Legislature, but was delegated to the Fish and Game Commission
(Commission) in 1973. In the early years of the fishery, management focused on
reducing sea urchin densities to increase kelp abundance and urchin gonad yield.
However, the rapid expansion of the fishery in the mid-1980s spawned a reassessment
of this policy. In 1987, the Legislature established the Director's Sea Urchin Advisory
Committee (DSUAC) which consisted of representatives from the fishing industry,
California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), and California Sea Grant. DSUAC was
the decision-making body for industry-funded research projects aimed at enhancing and
managing the fishery, and acted as a forum for consensus-based management. In
2002, the self-imposed landing fee law that funded industry-backed research projects
was repealed, and DSUAC was reformed through legislation as the Sea Urchin Fishery
Advisory Committee. The new committee is charged with disbursing any remaining
funds and advising DFG on management matters.
    California’s sea urchin fishery presently operates without a fishery management
plan. Few restrictions have been placed on catch or effort until the late 1980s; the
primary management measure prior to 1985 was limiting gear to rakes, airlifts and other
hand appliances. Since then, principal management actions have consisted of the
following:

    • A moratorium on the issue of new permits in 1987, with a restricted access
      program beginning in 1989
    • The introduction of a minimum legal size limit in 1988 (increased in northern
     California in 1990 and increased in southern California in 1992)
    • Establishing a closed fishing season and restricting fishing to specific days. In
     1990, northern California fishing was restricted to 233 days per year. In 1992,
     southern California fishing was restricted to 240 days per year
    • An effort-reduction scheme was introduced in 1990 that presently requires 10
     permits to be retired for each new entrant

All of these regulations remain in effect. The size limits and closures have been
relatively ineffective in reducing total effort, with effort reductions in recent years due
largely to a combination of diminished markets and declining urchin populations. While
the limited entry program has created a slow but steady decrease in permits, it has
probably not significantly reduced effort in the fishery.



Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                        9-4
    Research that examines the feasibility of enhancing stocks by out-planting of
juvenile sea urchins, funded primarily by the industry, has shown that out-planting is not
cost effective given observed out-plant survival rates and the limited availability and
high cost of juvenile urchins. Transplanting naturally occurring juvenile urchins from
urchin dominated areas subject to high recruitment rates has shown some promise,
however the utility of this strategy will depend on the availability of natural juvenile
transplants, and recognition of the consequences of transplanting juvenile urchins into
the surrounding ecosystem.

Restricted Access Program
    The restricted access dive fishery for sea urchins began in 1989. Divers
primarily harvest red sea urchins, although the smaller purple sea urchin is harvested
sporadically.
    The upper limit on the number of participants (the capacity goal) was originally
set at 400 divers, but was later reduced to 300. The Commission placed a moratorium
on the issuance of new permits in 1987. The number of permits increased dramatically
before the moratorium became effective, with

          Historical timeline for the sea urchin restricted access program
  1973   State Legislature delegates authority to the Fish and Game Commission for managing the
       sea urchin fishery.
  1984   State Legislature authorizes a permit for the sea urchin fishery, but does not make it
       restricted access.
  1986   State Legislature gives the Fish and Game Commission authority to limit the number of sea
       urchin diving permits.
  1987   Fish and Game Commission places a moratorium on new permits.
  1989   Restricted access program begins.


938 permits issued in the 1987 license year. Since then, the number of diving permits
issued each year has generally declined (Figure 9.5). In 2001, there were 388 diving
permittees, many of whom were not full-time divers.
    The annual sea urchin diving permit is $330, and is not transferable. There is an
annual landing requirement (20 landings of 300 lb or more) for renewal of the permit.
This provision is scheduled for repeal, effective in 2004. In addition, permit holders must
submit logbooks that provide details on the location and depth fished, the number of
hours spent diving, and the amount of urchins harvested. There is an annual urchin
lottery to allow new participants to enter the fishery if any permits are available.
Individuals may assist the diver on the vessel if they have a sea urchin crewmember
permit ($30).
    State law (Fish and Game Code §7065) requires that each restricted access
program be reviewed at least every five years for consistency with the Commission’s
policy on restricted access. Table 9.2 lists the Commission’s restricted access policies




Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                               9-5
                       Sea Urchin Diving Permits, 1987-2002

            1000     Moratorium on new permits
            900
                        Restricted access
            800
  Number of permits




                        program begins
                                      Apprentices can apply for Diving Permits;
            700
                                      Apprentice Program ends
            600
                                                          Preliminary
            500
            400
            300
            200
            100
             0
               1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
                              License year (April 1-March 31)

Figure 9.5. Number of sea urchin diving permits issued for the commercial red and purple sea urchin
fisheries from the 1987-1988 license year (April 1 through March 31) to the 2002-2003 license year. The
restricted access program began in 1989. The current capacity goal is 300 divers. Data sources are the
California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) license reports.

and whether the sea urchin restricted access program is consistent with each policy.
Even though the restricted access program began before the Commission adopted a
policy on restricted access, the program is consistent with most of the Commission’s
policies. The main feature of the sea urchin restricted access program which is not
consistent with the Commission’s policies is issuance of new permits when the number
of permits is above the capacity goal.
    It is the policy of the Commission that each restricted access program must have
an equitable and practicable system to reduce fishing capacity. Although constituent
satisfaction with the system has not been measured, the system was developed with
constituent input. It also provides a means for new participants to gain experience and
enter the fishery, and for former permit holders to re-enter the fishery.

Status of Biological Knowledge
    Sea urchins play an important ecological role in kelp forest communities. They
are found subtidally along the California coast wherever conditions are favorable. Red
sea urchins belong to the phylum Echinodermata, which includes sea stars, brittle stars,
sea cucumbers, and sand dollars. These urchins have a hard shell called a “test”, with
spines and small pincers. Tube feet located between the spines are used in respiration,
locomotion, and for grasping food and the substrate. The mouth, located at the base of
the urchin, consists of five plates that make up a jaw structure commonly known as
“Aristotle’s lantern”. The mouth leads to the digestive system, which voids through the
anus on the top of the urchin.
    Sea urchins are omnivorous, but mostly eat leafy algae. The perennial giant kelp
is their preferred food in southern California, whereas in northern California urchins feed
on the annual bull kelp and perennial brown algae. The red sea urchin’s ability to
survive during periods of food shortage contributes to its ability to persist in high

Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                                           9-6
densities in areas devoid of algae, known as “urchin barrens”. Following oceanographic
events such as El Niños, barrens occur in southern California wherever kelp beds die
off, causing shortages of standing and drift algae. These food shortages may trigger
urchins to aggregate and move in eating “fronts”, denuding the sea floor. Based on
examination of long-term aerial photos and on kelp forest ecology studies in northern
San Diego County, sea urchin grazing at its most severe probably accounts for about
20% of kelp mortality in a given kelp bed. Conversely, the intense fishery for red sea
urchins in northern California appears to have had a positive effect on kelp availability.
Aerial photographs of surface kelp at one location in northern California showed a 15-
fold increase surface canopy from 1982 to 1989 during a period of concentrated urchin
fishing.
    Red sea urchins may compete with abalone for both space and food. A recent
study on competitive interactions between these species at sites in northern California
concluded that there is an inverse relationship between them that favors red sea urchin
at sites where neither species is at low densities. Sea urchins may be more successful
in competing for limited food because of their aggressive foraging and ability to survive
starvation conditions. Fishing for abalone and sea urchins has no doubt altered these
relationships.
    Red sea urchins have many predators, including sea otters, spiny lobsters, sea
stars, crabs, white sea urchins, and fishes such as California sheephead. Within the
sea otter’s present range, the red sea urchin resource has been reduced to a level
which precludes fishery utilization.
    Urchin diseases have decimated the sea urchin populations of Caribbean
islands; however, the dynamics of sea urchin diseases in California remains poorly
understood. Sea urchins in southern California are especially susceptible to disease
during warm-water El Niño events.
    Sea urchin growth rates vary depending on food availability. Growth rates must
be determined by tagging and recapturing. Internal tags (“PIT” tags), or chemical
(fluorescent) tags that bind to calcium have been used to successfully tag sea urchins.
Tagging studies reveal that red urchins are long-lived, with large individuals possibly
living beyond 100 years. Growth to 3.5 in. (test diameter, exclusive of spines) takes an
average of six to eight years. There are no discernable growth patterns along a
latitudinal gradient from Baja California to Alaska; however, there is a clear trend in
population mortality rates. Mortality estimates for southern populations were found to
be greater than for northern populations. Likely mechanisms include higher rates of
disease and temperature-related stresses in the south.
    Red sea urchins become sexually mature at 2 in. test diameter. The sex ratio in
urchins is about 1-to-1. Sea urchin spawning is seasonal, but can vary from year to
year and from one locality to another. Food supply and ocean temperatures play roles
in the timing and magnitude of spawning. In most southern California locations,
spawning generally occurs in winter. In northern California, major spawning occurs in
spring and summer, with some spawning activity also in December.
    As with many marine invertebrates, fertilization is external and success is highly
dependent on density. Subtidal studies suggest that red urchins at densities of less
than two per square meter can have poor fertilization success. Females spawn up to
several million eggs at a time. Larval development is dependent on temperature and


Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                       9-7
the abundance of phytoplankton (single-celled algae) and is thought to extend for six to
eight weeks. As the larvae mature, they settle to the bottom and progress to the
juvenile life-stage; however, they can spend a long time drifting with water currents
before settling. This allows juvenile sea urchins to disperse long distances from the
adults that spawned them.
    Settlement patterns have been studied for red and purple sea urchins on artificial
substrates at sites in northern and southern California since 1990. Peak settlement
periods tend to be in spring and early summer although there is substantial year-to-year
variation in timing and intensity. Settlement also tends to be less variable south of Point
Conception, and is depressed during El Niño events. The more variable pattern of
settlement in northern California is consistent with the more energetic offshore
movement of water during spring periods when larvae are present, especially around
headlands. Consequently, El Niño events appear to favor settlement in the north as
offshore water movement becomes reduced. Recruitment patterns (that is, individuals
reaching a specific life-stage such as legal size) of red sea urchins in northern and
southern California generally mirror those of settlement. Recruitment in southern
California appears to be relatively constant, while in the north recruitment rates are
lower and more sporadic.
    Newly settled juvenile urchins are very vulnerable. Juveniles are preyed upon
more often in kelp forest habitat, where predators are presumably more abundant than
in similar rocky habitats just outside of kelp beds. Adult sea urchins and their spines are
important protective structures in subtidal communities. The canopy formed by the
spines is a micro-habitat that shelters juvenile sea urchins, shrimps, crabs, brittle stars,
fish, abalone, and other invertebrates. The spine canopy is most likely an important
habitat for juvenile sea urchins, especially in areas where alternative cryptic habitats
(such as crevices and undersides of boulders) are rare or absent.

Status of the Population
    In southern California, the red sea urchin resource now produces less than 10
million lb annually, with harvestable stocks (stocks that exceed the minimum legal size
and contain marketable gonads) in decline since 1990. Between 1985 and 1995, the
percentage of legal-sized red sea urchins at survey sites in the northern Channel
Islands declined from 15% to about 7%. Although fishing has significantly reduced
density in many areas and CPUE has decreased, replacement of fished stocks by
juvenile sea urchins has somewhat mitigated fishing pressure. Consistent settlement
rates have been noted on artificial substrates and along subtidal transects over the last
decade at monitoring stations along the southern California mainland coast and the
northern Channel Islands. This may be partly due to ocean current patterns in the
Southern California Bight, which may increase the chances for larvae to encounter
suitable habitat for settlement. Continued recruitment at present levels, however, is not
guaranteed.
    The areas where sea urchins have been harvested in southern California have
shifted over time. The northern Channel Islands have supplied most of the catch over
the years, but beginning in 1995 catches in the northern Channel Islands began to
decline, and effort and harvests started to increase off San Nicolas and San Clemente



Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                        9-8
Islands to the south, signaling a shift away from the northern Channel Islands (Figure
9.3).
    The northern California fishery has been characterized by rapid increase in
landings. Thirty million lb were landed in northern California in 1988, with a subsequent
decline to less than 5 million lb in the late 1990s. Fishery-dependent modeling of the
sea urchin fishery during the period of rapid decline estimated that the 117 million lb of
red urchin harvested from 1988 through 1994 represented about 70% of the harvestable
stock available in 1988. Effort declined during this period; the number of divers who
worked exclusively in northern California declined from 126 in 1991 to 79 in 2000.
Annual catch per permittee declined by 40% from 1990 to 2000.
    Since 1988, low densities of harvestable stocks have been found at sub-tidal
survey sites in the Fort Bragg area. From 1988 to 1997, the number of legal-sized red
urchins outside of reserves declined from 47% to 20% of the population, while densities
dropped from 0.8 urchins per square meter to 0.2 urchins per square meter. In contrast,
densities in two Fort Bragg area reserves during this period averaged over 3.0 red
urchins per square meter. These patterns continued during northern California surveys
in 1999 and 2000. Episodic and infrequent recruitment combined with intensive
harvesting on the north coast has caused the fishery to evolve into a “recruitment”
fishery, with fishermen harvesting urchins as soon as they reach legal size (that is,
harvesting newly-recruited sea urchins). In 1999 for example, 47% of the catch was
less than 3.9 in. wide (test diameter), just over the 3.5 in. minimum size limit for northern
California. The size limit and seasonal closures may help prevent fishery collapse, but
may not improve recruitment, particularly if recruitment success is dependent on
oceanographic factors, spine canopy micro-habitat and the presence of large spawners
in the population.

Management Considerations
   The Department and the industry have worked for more than a decade to adjust
regulations for the red sea urchin fishery as needed. The red sea urchin fishery is fully
exploited in California, and evidence from a variety of sources points to an over-fished
condition in northern and portions of southern California. The following management
activities should be considered to insure the health of the resource and fishery:

    •  Expand existing fishery-dependent and -independent monitoring programs,
      and expand collaborative monitoring and research with the industry
      o Collect logbook data at a higher spatial resolution using Global Positioning
        System (GPS) technology
      o Expand fishery-independent monitoring to allow managers to assess
        density, abundance of size classes, and poor quality urchins not sampled
        within the fishery (since the commercial fishery only targets certain sizes)
      o Continue and expand the long-term monitoring of settlement patterns to
        provide a relative measure of settlement. Industry has funded the
        settlement work to date
    •  Develop a red sea urchin fishery management plan. The Marine Life
      Management Act Master Plan (The Master Plan: A Guide for the
      Development of Fishery Management Plans, August 2001) identified sea


Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                        9-9
      urchins as one of the three fisheries that most need a management plan
    •  Conduct a capacity goal analysis to evaluate whether the present goal (300
      divers) matches the resource. Investigate equitable, practicable and
      enforceable methods for reducing fishing capacity
    •  Continue to examine and consider the use of spatial management techniques
      such as marine protected areas and rotating harvest zones

   The following management measures could be implemented on an interim basis
before a fishery management plan is in place:

    •  Evaluate current sea urchin size limits and the establishment of a maximum
      size limit (that is, a size above which no urchins may be taken). Current
      regulations prohibit the take of red sea urchins between 1.5 and 3.25 in. for
      southern California and between 1.5 and 3.5 in. for northern California
    •  Establish regional management zones for northern and southern California


                          Peter Kalvass and Laura Rogers-Bennett
                           California Department of Fish and Game

                                         Revised May 2002
                                         by Peter Kalvass

               Section on Restricted Access Program added December 2002
                           Kristine C. Barsky and Connie Ryan
                          California Department of Fish and Game


Further Reading
Andrew NL, Agatsuma, Y, Ballesteros, E, Bazhin, AG et al. 2002. Status and management of world sea
  urchin fisheries. Oceanography and Marine Biology: an Annual Review 2002, 40, 343-425.
Botsford, LW, SR Wing, and JL Largier. 1998. Population dynamic and management implications of larval
  dispersal. S.Afr.J.Mar.Sci. 19:131-142.
Ebert, TA, JD Dixon, SC Schroeter, PE Kalvass, NT Richmond, WA Bradbury, DA Woodby. 1999. Growth
  and mortality of red sea urchins Strongylocentrotus franciscanus across a latitudinal gradient.
  Mar.Ecol.Prog.Ser. 190:189-209.
Ebert, TA 1998. An analysis of the importance of Allee effects in management of the red sea urchin
  Strongylocentrotus franciscanus. Echinoderms: San Francisco. Proceeds. 9th Intern. Echinoderm
  Conf. R.Mooi and M.Telford, editors. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Neth p 619-627.
Ebert, TA, SC Schroeter, JD Dixon and P Kalvass. 1994. Settlement patterns of red and purple sea
  urchins (Strongylocentrotus franciscanus and S. purpuratus) in California, USA. Mar.Ecol.Prog.Ser.
  111:41-52.
Kalvass, PE and JM Hendrix. 1997. The California red sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus franciscanus,
  fishery: catch, effort and management trends. Mar. Fish. Rev. 59:1-17.
Kato, S and SC Schroeter. 1985. Biology of the red sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus franciscanus, and its
  fishery in California. Mar.Fish.Rev. 47(3):1-20.
Levitan, DR, MA Sewell and FS Chia 1992. How distribution and abundance influence fertilization
  success in the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus franciscanus. Ecol 73:248-254.




Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                             9-10
Rogers-Bennett, L, H Fastenau, and CM Dewees. 1998. Recovery of red sea urchin beds following
  experimental harvest. Echinoderms: San Francisco. Proceeds. 9th Intern. Echinoderm Conf. R. Mooi
  and M. Telford, editors. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Neth. 805-809.
Rogers-Bennett, L, WA Bennett, HC Fastenau, and CM Dewees. 1995. Spatial variation in red sea urchin
  reproduction and morphology: implications for harvest refugia. Ecol. Appl. 5(4):1171-1180.
Tegner, MJ and PK Dayton. 1977. Sea urchin recruitment patterns and implications of commercial fishing.
  Science 196:324-326.



Table 9.1. Commercial landings (pounds) of red sea urchin, 1916-2001
Year   Pounds     Year  Pounds     Year   Pounds    Year    Pounds     Year    Pounds
        ------         ------         ------          ------        14,978,869
1916          1933          1950          1967            1984
        ------         ------         ------          ------        19,994,868
1917          1934          1951          1968            1985
        ------         ------         ------          ------        34,131,614
1918          1935          1952          1969            1986
        ------         ------         ------          ------        46,061,649
1919          1936          1953          1970            1987
        ------         ------         ------           200         51,987,990
1920          1937          1954          1971            1988
        ------         ------         ------         76,457         51,200,303
1921          1938          1955          1972            1989
        ------         ------         ------        3,594,695         45,266,911
1922          1939          1956          1973            1990
        ------         ------         ------        7,101,815         41,945,432
1923          1940          1957          1974            1991
        ------         ------         ------        7,567,154         32,366,557
1924          1941          1958          1975            1992
        ------         ------         ------       11,106,426         26,852,646
1925          1942          1959          1976            1993
        ------         ------         ------       16,536,295         23,770,707
1926          1943          1960          1977            1994
        ------         ------         ------       14,427,547         22,260,967
1927          1944          1961          1978            1995
        ------         ------         ------       20,558,950         20,066,110
1928          1945          1962          1979            1996
        ------         ------         ------       22,167,108         18,020,775
1929          1946          1963          1980            1997
        ------         ------         ------       26,433,986         10,555,177
1930          1947          1964          1981            1998
        ------         ------         ------       19,441,151         14,178,359
1931          1948          1965          1982            1999
        ------         ------         ------       17,756,472         13,902,110
1932          1949          1966          1983            2000
                                                      13,068,469
                                                 2001
------ Landings data not reported from 1916 to 1970. Fishery began in 1971.
Data sources: DFG Catch Bulletins (1916-1983) and DFG commercial landing receipt database (1984-2001).




Table 9.2. Consistency of the restricted access program for the sea urchin commercial fishery
with the Fish and Game Commission policies on restricted access for commercial fisheries (policy
adopted June 18, 1999)
    Fish and Game Commission policies               Sea urchin restricted access program’s
                                      consistency with the policies
                   Restricted access as a management tool
POLICY 1.1: The Fish and Game Commission             CONSISTENT
(Commission) and the Department of Fish and Game         The commercial restricted access program is one of
(DFG) may use restricted access programs as one of a       the tools used to conserve and manage sea urchins.
number of tools to conserve and manage fisheries as a      Other tools include: size limits and time and area
public trust resource.                      closures.
                Goals and objectives of restricted access programs
POLICY 2.1: The Commission may develop restricted        CONSISTENT
access programs for fisheries that retain the public       The State Legislature granted the Commission
ownership status of the resource for one or more of the     authority to limit the number of permits to prevent
following purposes: 1) to promote sustainability; 2) to create  overfishing or to ensure efficient and economic


Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                                      9-11
Table 9.2. Consistency of the restricted access program for the sea urchin commercial fishery
with the Fish and Game Commission policies on restricted access for commercial fisheries (policy
adopted June 18, 1999)
    Fish and Game Commission policies              Sea urchin restricted access program’s
                                     consistency with the policies
an orderly fishery; 3) to promote conservation among      operation of the fishery.
fishery participants; 4) to maintain the long-term economic
viability of fisheries.



               Development and review of restricted access programs
POLICY 3.1: Restricted access programs shall be         NOT APPLICABLE
developed with the substantial involvement of participants   The program was developed before the adoption of
in the affected fishery and others, consistent with the     this policy or the enactment of Fish and Game Code
stakeholder participation requirements of Fish and Game     §7059. However, participants were involved in the
Code §7059. This approach shall balance the specific      development of the program and subsequent
needs of the fishery with the desirability of increasing    modifications to the program.
uniformity among restricted access programs in order to
reduce administrative complexity.
POLICY 3.2: Each restricted access program shall be       CONSISTENT IN PART
                                 • The program started before the adoption of this
reviewed at least every four years and, if appropriate,
revised to ensure that it continues to meet the objectives of   policy, but it has been modified and did receive
the State and the fishery participants. Review of each       some review by the Commission, DFG and
restricted access program shall occur at least as often as     stakeholders during those modifications.
                                 • This report (Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
the particular fishery is reviewed in the annual fishery
status report required by Fish and Game Code §7065. The      required by Fish and Game Code §7065) briefly
general restricted access policy should be reviewed at a      reviews the program, but does not formally
regularly scheduled Commission meeting at least once        measure participants’ perceptions on whether the
every four years following its adoption.              program is meeting its goals and objectives.
                   Elements of restricted access programs
POLICY 4.1: Each new restricted access program shall be     CONSISTENT IN PART
                                 • The program is based on a species group (red
based either on one or more species or species groups
targeted by the fishery or on a type of gear. In programs     and purple sea urchins).
                                 • It is not clear whether the impacts on other
based on a type of gear an endorsement may be required
for one or more species or species groups targeted by the     fisheries were evaluated during the development
gear type. Each restricted access program should take into     of the program.
account possible impacts of the program on other fisheries.
POLICY 4.2: Each restricted access program that is not     CONSISTENT
based on harvest rights shall have a capacity goal. The     The capacity goal is currently set at 300 sea urchin
Commission, Department and stakeholders will use the      diving permits.
best available biological and economic information in
determining each capacity goal.
POLICY 4.3: Each restricted access fishery system shall     CONSISTENT
have an equitable, practicable, and enforceable system for   Systems exist for reducing and increasing capacity.
reducing fishing capacity when the fishery is exceeding its   Attrition is the means of reducing capacity. Capacity is
participation goal and for increasing fishing capacity when   increased by the issuance of new permits to eligible
the fishery is below its fishery capacity goal.         applicants. If there are more eligible applicants than
                                new permits available, then a drawing is held to
                                determine which applicants will be able to purchase
                                permits.
POLICY 4.4: In fisheries that exceed their fishery capacity   CONSISTENT
goals, permit transfers will be allowed only if they are    Permits are not transferable.
consistent with the means for achieving the fishery capacity
goal.




Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                                     9-12
Table 9.2. Consistency of the restricted access program for the sea urchin commercial fishery
with the Fish and Game Commission policies on restricted access for commercial fisheries (policy
adopted June 18, 1999)
    Fish and Game Commission policies               Sea urchin restricted access program’s
                                      consistency with the policies
                             Permits
POLICY 5.1: The Commission will give adequate public       NOT APPLICABLE
notice of intent to establish a restricted access program.    The program was developed before the adoption of
The Commission may set a Control Date for determining       this policy.
qualification for a restricted access program. A new
restricted access program shall not allow fishing effort to
increase beyond recent levels. Some level of fishery
participation may be required to qualify for an initial permit.
Fishery qualification can be based upon fishery
participation during a period of time preceding notification
of intent or on other factors relevant to the particular
fishery. Affidavits of fishery participation or medical
statements of inability to meet qualification standards shall
not be accepted. Vessels under construction or inoperable
during the qualification period shall not be considered for a
permit.
POLICY 5.2: New permits in a restricted access fishery      NOT CONSISTENT
shall only be issued when the fishery is below its fishery    New sea urchin diving permits are issued when the
capacity goal.                          fishery is above the capacity goal. The number of new
                                 permits available for issuance is one-tenth the
                                 difference between the number of sea urchin diving
                                 permits issued prior to August 1 of the current license
                                 year and the number of permits issued the
                                 immediately preceding license year.
POLICY 5.3: Restricted access fishery permits shall be of     CONSISTENT
one year duration and are renewed upon annual           The permit must be renewed annually; the permittee
application and payment of the permit fee and shall be      must meet a minimum landing requirement, and must
valid, provided they are annually renewed and the permit     pay a permit fee.
holder meets the requirements of the restricted access
program for the life of the program.
POLICY 5.4: Each fisherman-based program shall          CONSISTENT
determine in what circumstances, if any, a substitute may     The program provides for a substitute if a diver
fish the permit.                         becomes physically unable to dive because of long-
                                 term or permanent injury or disease.
                           Permit transfers
POLICY 6.1: Restricted access permits may be           NOT APPLICABLE
transferable. In fisheries in which the permit is transferable,  Permits are not transferable.
transfer may be subject to conditions that contribute to the
objectives of the restricted access program. In new
restricted access programs, permit transfers will not be
allowed unless a fishery capacity goal and a system for
achieving that goal are part of the restricted access
program. In existing restricted access programs, the
objective is to review and revise those programs to include
fishery capacity goals and systems to achieve those goals.
A restricted access program may include a fee on the
transfer of permits, in excess of actual administrative costs
for the permit change, to offset other costs involved in the
conservation and management of that fishery.




Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                                      9-13
Table 9.2. Consistency of the restricted access program for the sea urchin commercial fishery
with the Fish and Game Commission policies on restricted access for commercial fisheries (policy
adopted June 18, 1999)
    Fish and Game Commission policies               Sea urchin restricted access program’s
                                      consistency with the policies
                           Vessel issues
POLICY 7.1: Vessels requested to be retired by the vessel    NOT APPLICABLE
owner will no longer be eligible to participate in commercial  The permit is not vessel-based.
fisheries in California.
POLICY 7.2: Replacement vessels of the same or lower      NOT APPLICABLE
fishing capacity as the permitted vessel will be allowed only  The permit is not vessel-based.
if the permitted vessel is lost, stolen, retired or no longer
able to participate as a commercial fishing vessel.
POLICY 7.3: Each restricted access program that allows for   NOT APPLICABLE
vessel permit transfers may allow for vessel upgrades      The permit is not vessel-based.
provided a permit consolidation/vessel retirement process
consistent with the fishery capacity goal is made part of the
program.
POLICY 7.4: A restricted access program may prohibit the    NOT APPLICABLE
use of support vessels or require that they be permitted in   The permit is not vessel-based.
the fishery or that they pay a fee comparable to the permit
fee.
                           Harvest rights
POLICY 8.1: It is the policy of the Commission that harvest   NOT APPLICABLE
rights systems such as individual transferable quotas may    The program is not based on harvest rights.
be considered only after careful consideration of
stakeholder input. In establishing such management
systems, the State should consider: (1) fair and equitable
initial allocation of quota shares which considers past
participation in the fishery, (2) resource assessment for
establishing total allowable catch estimates, (3) fishery
participation goals and aggregation limits, (4) cost recovery
from quota owners, (5) quota transferability, and (6)
recreational fisheries issues.
                  Administration of restricted access programs
POLICY 9.1: Administrative costs shall be minimized and     CONSISTENT
                                 • The DFG License and Revenue Branch issues the
those costs shall be borne by the respective programs.
Review or advisory boards may be considered on a          permits.
                                 • The DFG Director’s Sea Urchin Advisory
program-by-program basis. The programs shall be
administered in their entirety within an existing department    Committee advised DFG for many years; it was
unit.                               recently restructured and is called the Sea Urchin
                                  Fishery Advisory Committee.
POLICY 9.2: Fees collected from restricted access        CONSISTENT
initiatives may, for cost accounting and reporting purposes,  The State Legislature, at the request of industry,
be deposited in a single dedicated Restricted Access      created a landing fee specifically for sea urchin
Fishery Account within the Fish and Game Preservation      enhancement, research and management. That fee
Fund. A fund condition and activity report should be      was repealed in 2002.
published annually.
POLICY 9.3: Restricted access programs should provide      CONSISTENT
specific disincentives for violations of pertinent laws and   The Commission can suspend, revoke or cancel a
regulations. Enforcement costs of restricted access       permit if the permittee or his employee or agent
programs should be minimized through the use of new       violates any regulation regarding sea urchins or
technologies or other means.                  abalone.




Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                                     9-14
                            10. PURPLE SEA URCHIN

Overview of the Fishery
    Although the purple sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, has been
harvested for thousands of years, comparatively few are harvested nowadays. Along
with the closely-related red sea urchin, S. franciscanus, purple sea urchins were
considered pests prior to 1970 because they voraciously consumed kelp.
    Purple sea urchin populations today could support a more substantial fishery
than currently exists; however, they have only been harvested on a limited and
experimental basis in California in association with the much larger and more lucrative
red sea urchin fishery. Purple sea urchin roe is reportedly very similar in quality to
some of the highly-desirable, domestic Japanese species, and is sought in
Mediterranean countries.
    Since 1990, annual purple sea urchin landings have ranged from 5,900 lb to
390,000 lb, with an average of about 119,000 lb (Figure 10.1 and Table 10.1). The
largest landings (390,000 lb in 1991 and 316,000 lb in 1992) occurred when several
attempts were made to establish buyers in the Japanese market. In recent years,
purple sea urchin roe has also been exported to markets in the Mediterranean region.
    Approximately 60% of purple sea urchin landings originate in northern California,
although this species is harvested in southern California as well. A robust fishery for
purple sea urchins has not yet developed because this species is smaller, yields less
roe, and requires more effort to harvest and process than red sea urchins. The purple
sea urchin’s marketability in Japan has been limited by these factors and associated
costs.
    Sea urchin fishery regulations, as described in the report on red sea urchins in
this volume, apply to the harvest of purple sea urchins as well, except that there are no
minimum size limits or closed periods for purple sea urchins. (For a detailed review


                     Commercial Landings of Purple Sea Urchin, 1916-2001
  thousands of pounds landed




                450
                400
                350
                300
                250
                200
                150
                100
                 50
                 0
                 1910  1920  1930  1940  1950  1960  1970  1980  1990  2000

Figure 10.1. Annual commercial landings (pounds) of purple sea urchin from 1916 to 2001. Data
sources are the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Catch Bulletins (1916-1983) and the
DFG commercial landing receipt database (1984-2001).




Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                               10-1
of the sea urchin restricted access program, see the red sea urchin report.) A minor
recreational fishery for purple urchins also takes place in southern California with a daily
bag and possession limit of 35 urchins.
Status of Biological Knowledge
    Purple sea urchins inhabit waters from Alaska to Cedros Island, Baja California,
Mexico, at depths of up to 500 ft; however, they live primarily in shallow water and are
the only abundant sea urchin in intertidal areas along the California coast.
    General biology of the purple sea urchin is very similar to that of the closely-
related red sea urchin (see the report on red sea urchins for a more detailed review of
urchin biology). In addition to external color differences, purple sea urchins are much
smaller than red sea urchins, rarely attaining a body (or “test”) diameter of over 4 in.
    Feeding habits and reproduction are quite similar to those found in red sea
urchins. Purple sea urchins reach reproductive maturity at around one or two years of
age. Larvae drift with the prevailing water currents for an uncertain amount of time,
probably about six to eight weeks. As the larvae mature, they settle to the bottom and
change into the juvenile form. Peak settlement periods tend to be in spring and early
summer, with substantial year-to-year variation in both timing and intensity. Settlement
tends to be less variable south of Point Conception (Santa Barbara County) and is
depressed during El Niño events. El Niño events appear to favor settlement in northern
California, however. Energetic movement of water offshore in northern California has
been associated with reduced recruitment.
    Growth is highly variable and strongly linked with food availability. At one year,
the size of purple sea urchins can range from about 0.4 in. to 1.2 in. After five years,
size can range from 1.25 in. to 2.0 in. Growth rates of very small individuals under one
year old are not well known.
    Predators of purple sea urchins include those for red sea urchins (sea otter,
spiny lobster, sea stars, and fishes), however because purple sea urchins are common
in the intertidal zone, predators also include sea gulls, oystercatchers, and raccoons.
Sea otters, currently found off the coast of central California, are able to reduce sea
urchin populations to levels unsuitable for commercial or recreational fishing, but
apparently do not threaten the species’ continued existence.
    When water temperatures exceed 73° F, purple sea urchins exhibit increased
mortality, which appears to be partly caused by physiological stress. Elevated
temperatures also promote development of one or more urchin pathogens that can
cause mass mortalities. These die-offs have been observed more frequently in
southern than in northern California, especially in association with elevated water
temperatures during El Niño events.

Status of the Population
    Larval settlement rates monitored at a number of locations in southern and
northern California over the past 10 years do not indicate a change in larval production
and settlement patterns, which indicates that the status of this species appears to be
stable.




Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                        10-2
Management Considerations
    There are several gaps in basic knowledge concerning purple sea urchins.
Although there are scattered studies of growth and survival in the literature, data have
not been synthesized in a manner that would assist in setting informed harvest size
limits. Studies of early growth and survival up to an age of one year are few. These
studies are needed to link settlement information with recruitment to the reproductive
population. Studies are also needed to link sources of larvae with sites of settlement –
information crucial to developing management plans that involve marine reserves. Both
fishery-dependent and -independent monitoring should continue in order to assess
changes in stock condition. Fishery-dependent monitoring of commercial landing levels
and patterns should detect any trend toward large-scale harvests that might require
more specific management measures. At present, the most comprehensive fishery-
independent data consists of the long-term monitoring of settlement patterns in northern
and southern California. Continuing this monitoring should provide a measure of
settlement supply, and an early warning of possible adverse effects of harvesting on
recruitment.


                                         David O. Parker
                             California Department of Fish and Game

                                         Thomas Ebert
                               San Diego State University (emeritus)

                                          Revised May 2002
                                          by David O. Parker


Further Reading
Ebert, TA. 1968. Growth rates of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus related to food availability
   and spine abrasion. Ecology 49: 1075-1091.
Ebert, TA, SC Schroeter, JD Dixon and P Kalvass 1994. Settlement patterns of red and purple sea
   urchins (Strongylocentrotus franciscanus and S. purpuratus) in California, USA. Marine Ecology
   Progress Series 111:41-52.
Gilles, KW and JS Pearse. 1986. Disease in sea urchins Strongylocentrotus purpuratus: experimental
   infection and bacterial virulence. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 1:105-114.
Kato, S and SC Schroeter. 1985. Biology of the red sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus franciscanus, and its
   fishery in California. Mar. Fish. Rev. 47(3):1-20.
Kenner, MC. 1992. Population dynamics of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus in a central
   California kelp forest: recruitment, mortality, growth, and diet. Marine Biology 112: 107-118.
Pearse, JS and AH Hines. 1987. Long-term population dynamics of sea urchins in a central California
   kelp forest: rare recruitment and rapid decline. Marine Ecology Progress Series 39: 275-283.
Russell, MP. 1987. Life history traits and resource allocation in the purple sea urchin Strongylocentrotus
  purpuratus (Stimpson). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 108: 199-216.




Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                               10-3
Table 10.1. Commercial landings (pounds) of purple sea urchin, 1916-2001
Year   Pounds    Year  Pounds    Year  Pounds   Year  Pounds    Year  Pounds
       ------        ------       ------       ------       2,755
1916          1933         1950        1967        1984
       ------        ------       ------       ------       2,260
1917          1934         1951        1968        1985
       ------        ------       ------       ------       1,424
1918          1935         1952        1969        1986
       ------        ------       ------       ------       ------
1919          1936         1953        1970        1987
       ------        ------       ------       ------       ------
1920          1937         1954        1971        1988
       ------        ------       ------       ------       2,781
1921          1938         1955        1972        1989
       ------        ------       ------       ------      89,633
1922          1939         1956        1973        1990
       ------        ------       ------       ------      390,186
1923          1940         1957        1974        1991
       ------        ------       ------       ------      316,134
1924          1941         1958        1975        1992
       ------        ------       ------       ------      165,032
1925          1942         1959        1976        1993
       ------        ------       ------       ------      137,613
1926          1943         1960        1977        1994
       ------        ------       ------       ------      79,802
1927          1944         1961        1978        1995
       ------        ------       ------       ------      55,701
1928          1945         1962        1979        1996
       ------        ------       ------       ------      122,004
1929          1946         1963        1980        1997
       ------        ------       ------       ------      14,068
1930          1947         1964        1981        1998
       ------        ------       ------       ------      29,797
1931          1948         1965        1982        1999
       ------        ------       ------       ------      19,095
1932          1949         1966        1983        2000
                                               5,953
                                          2001
------ No landings data from 1916 to 1983 and from 1987 to 1988. No directed fishery until 1984.
Data sources: DFG Catch Bulletins (1916-1983) and DFG commercial landing receipt database (1984-
2001).




Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                           10-4
                              11. SEA BASSES

Overview of the Fishery
    Three species of the sea bass family Serranidae are common in southern
California waters: the barred sand bass, Paralabrax nebulifer; the kelp bass, Paralabrax
clathratus; and the spotted sand bass, Paralabrax maculatofasciatus1. In the California
Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) historic records of commercial and recreational
fisheries, these three sea basses’ landings were often combined and reported as “rock
bass”.
    A small commercial fishery existed for these species until 1953, when the
commercial take of sea basses was prohibited. Commercially-caught sea basses were
sold fresh and primarily consisted of kelp bass and barred sand bass. Sea basses were
caught using a wide variety of gear including rod-and-reel, hand line, set line, gillnet,
trap, and trawl, and were often taken incidentally by boats fishing for other species.
    The commercial record for “rock bass” began in 1916 (Figure 11.1 and Table
11.1). As with many of California’s commercial fisheries, landings remained relatively
high during World War I because of the increased demand for food, and then declined
following the war. Landings rose again during the mid- to late 1920s, and then
generally declined until the close of the fishery in 1953. The declines in commercial
landings may not have been the result of reduced availability, but rather reduced effort.
Effort was not consistent over the time period because few commercial fishermen fished
full-time for sea basses. In addition, it was common for recreational anglers to sell their


                     Commercial Landings of Kelp Bass, Barred Sand Bass, and
                           Spotted Sand Bass, 1916-1953
  thousands of pounds landed




                900
                800
                700
                600
                500
                400
                300
                200
                100
                 0
                 1910   1915  1920  1925  1930  1935  1940  1945  1950   1955

Figure 11.1. Annual commercial landings (pounds) of sea basses (combined landings of kelp bass,
barred sand bass, and spotted sand bass) from 1916 to 1953. The commercial fishery was closed in
1953. Data sources are DFG Catch Bulletins.



1 The white sea bass, Atractoscion nobilis, and the giant sea bass, Stereolepis gigas, are not in the
family Serranidae, and are not covered here.




                                                   11-1
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
excess catch of sea basses until 1947, when a law was passed that prohibited the sale
of sport-caught fish.
    The catch data for the recreational fishery come from two sources: commercial
passenger fishing vessel (CPFV) logbooks, and the Marine Recreational Fishery
Statistics Survey (MRFSS). The MRFSS was conducted in California from 1980 though
1989 and from 1993 through the present, and estimates the catch of each of the sea
bass species by fishing mode: man-made structure, beach and bank, CPFV, and private
or rental boat. It also provides an overall estimate of recreational catch in terms of total
weight and number of fish. Since 1936, CPFV operators in southern California have
been required to keep daily records of the number and type of fish caught from their
boats in logbooks provided by DFG. From 1936 through 1974, logbooks asked for only
the combined catch catches of all three sea bass species. Logbook information was not
collected from 1941 through 1946 (during World War II). In 1975, DFG modified the
logbook to list barred sand bass and kelp bass separately. To date, a separate
category for spotted sand bass has not been added.
    According to CPFV logbooks, an average of 737,000 sea basses have been
caught annually from 1947 through 2001 (Figure 11.2 and Table 11.2). The largest
CPFV catches occurred from 1963 through 1969 when over one million sea basses
were caught annually.


                   Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel Landings of Kelp Bass,
                     Barred Sand Bass, and Spotted Sand Bass, 1947-2001
  thousands of fish landed




               1,400
               1,200
               1,000
                800
                600
                400
                200
                 0
                 1940     1950    1960   1970    1980    1990    2000

Figure 11.2. Recreational commercial passenger fishing vessel (CPFV) landings (number of fish) as
reported on CPFV Logbooks for kelp bass, barred sand bass, and spotted sand bass from 1947 to 2001.
Data sources are DFG Catch Bulletins (1947-1978) and DFG Annual Reports of Statewide Fish Landings
by the Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels (CPFV) Fleet (1979-2001).

    MRFSS estimates show that the overall recreational catch of sea basses was
relatively steady between 1993 and 1995, and then experienced four years of decline
(Figure 11.3). Catches rose sharply in 2000 and remained relatively high in 2001.
    The sea bass landings for the recreational fishery have generally been larger
than those for the commercial fishery. Between 1936 and 1940, the DFG gathered
landings data by weight for the CPFV fishery and the commercial fishery. During that
time period, CPFV landings were on average almost three times larger than commercial
landings. According to MRFSS estimates, the total annual recreational catch of sea

                                                  11-2
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
basses during the last two decades has ranged from a low of 1,153,000 lb in 1999 to a
high of 4,103,000 lb in 1988 (Figure 11.3). Even the lowest recreational catch during
the last two decades surpasses the highest commercial landings (852,000 lb in 1916)
on record.


                 Estimated Recreational Catch of Kelp Bass, Barred Sand Bass,
                        and Spotted Sand Bass, 1980-2001

             5,000
  thousands of pounds




             4,000

             3,000

             2,000

             1,000

               0
               1980        1985       1990       1995       2000

Figure 11.3. Estimated recreational catch (pounds) of kelp bass, barred sand bass, and spotted sand
bass from 1980 to 1989 and 1993 to 2001. Catch estimates do not include fish that were caught and
released alive. Data source is the MRFSS.

    In the early 1950s sport fishermen and fishery managers became concerned
about the sea basses resource. Data from life history studies conducted during the
1950s were used to formulate several conservation measures, including:

             •   Prohibiting the commercial take of all three sea bass species in California
                 waters (established in 1953)
             •   Imposing a minimum size limit of 10.5 in. for all three species (established in
                 1953). The size limit was periodically increased between 1953 and 1959,
                 when a 12-in. minimum size limit was adopted that remains in effect today
             •   Establishing a bag limit of 10 sea bass (any combination of barred sand bass,
                 kelp bass and spotted sand bass) (established in 1959)

Barred Sand Bass
    The barred sand bass is a relatively easy fish for marine anglers to catch.
Although the sand bass was not considered a quality game fish during the 1930s and
early 1940s, it became tremendously popular by the mid-1950s. Since the late 1970s,
this species has consistently ranked among the top ten species in the southern
California marine sport fish catch.
    Barred sand bass are very susceptible to hook-and-line gear and are somewhat
easier to catch than kelp bass. When CPFV skippers target schools of barred sand
bass, they usually produce substantial catches for their passengers, even when the
passengers are novice anglers possessing minimal fishing skills.


                                                    11-3
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
    Most barred sand bass are caught from boats. Over the last two decades, a little
more than half of the landings have been from CPFVs, a little less than half from private
or rental boats, and less than 2% from shore (Table 11.3 and Table 11.4). MRFSS
estimates of annual barred sand bass landings from all sport fishing modes (shore, pier,
private boat, CPFVs, etc.) have averaged about 846,000 fish per year since 1980, with
a peak landing of 2.1 million fish in 1988 (Table 11.3). CPFV logbook data indicates
that the catch of barred sand bass generally increased from 1975 through 2001,
expanding more than five-fold with a peak of 738,000 fish in 2000 (Table 11.2).
    Barred sand bass landings now rival kelp bass landings in the nearshore
recreational fishery off southern California. In 1985, barred sand bass became the
leading bass species in the CPFV catch, exceeding kelp bass landings for the first time
since landings for these two species were reported separately. Since 1985, the barred
sand bass catch has exceeded the kelp bass catch 75% of the time (Table 11.2).
    The major barred sand bass fishing sites include Silver Strand Beach, Del Mar,
San Onofre, and the Huntington Flats area in Orange County, the inshore portion of
northern Santa Monica Bay off Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica in Los Angeles
County, and the Ventura Flats area in Ventura County.

Kelp Bass
    Kelp bass, popularly referred to as calico bass, are one of the most important
nearshore recreational species off southern California. This species has been targeted
by southern California anglers since the early 1900s. Based on recent information, it is
very likely that kelp bass comprised most of the "rock bass" category during the early
years of the fishery. Sport anglers catch kelp bass using light hook-and-line tackle while
fishing from piers, beaches, private boats, and CPFVs.
    In the early 1900s, sport anglers considered small kelp bass to be a nuisance
fish; only the largest “bull bass” were sought. Perceptions of kelp bass as a sport fish
changed, and by the 1930s it had become a popular sport fish. In 1939, the first
management attempt to prevent depletion of sport fishes limited the recreational catch
to 15 total fish per day (multiple species). Intense fishing immediately after World War II
may have caused a progressive decrease in the size of kelp bass, and deterioration of
the popular kelp bass fishery. In 1950, DFG began comprehensive life history studies
of kelp bass and sand bass. The resulting data were used to create new size and bag
limits for sport-caught kelp bass and sand bass. The new size limit, 10.5 in., was
increased several times over the years until 1959, when the current 12-in. limit was
instated.
    CPFV landings of kelp bass typically peak in the late spring and early fall. The
catch of kelp bass, as reported in the CPFV logbooks, averaged approximately 328,000
fish per year between 1975 and 2001 (Table 11.2). The catch reached a record low of
about 129,000 fish in 1999, but rebounded to previous average levels in 2000 and 2001.
     The MRFSS data indicate that nearly all kelp bass are caught from CPFVs,
private boats, and rental boats (Table 11.5 and Table 11.6). The MRFSS catch
estimates show trends similar to those obtained from CPFV logbook data: declining
catches through most of the 1990s with a low in 1999, and then a landings rebound in
2000 and 2001.



                                         11-4
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
   The most productive fishing areas for kelp bass in recent years have been off the
Coronado Islands in Baja California, Mexico, Point Loma and La Jolla in San Diego
County, Dana Point and Huntington Beach in Orange County, Horseshoe Kelp in Los
Angeles County, and around the Channel Islands.

Spotted Sand Bass
     The distribution of spotted sand bass is limited to a few bay, estuary and harbor
habitats. Newport Bay (Orange County), and Mission and San Diego bays (San Diego
County) are primary spotted sand bass fishing sites in southern California.
     The annual catch of spotted sand bass over the last two decades has been
considerably lower than the catches of kelp bass and barred sand bass (Table 11.7 and
Table 11.8). During this time period, the average annual catch of spotted sand bass
has been about 82,000 fish (Table 11.7), while the average annual catch of kelp bass
was over nine times greater (753,000 fish) and the average annual catch of barred sand
bass was over ten times greater (846,000 fish). However, the spotted sand bass has
recently gained popularity with nearshore anglers for its aggressive behavior and
fighting ability, and some angling tournaments exclusively target spotted sand bass. In
addition, the accessibility to spotted sand bass habitat has increased dramatically with
the introduction of float-tube technology and the increased popularity of fishing from
ocean kayaks. This increased accessibility has generated interest in the spotted sand
bass as a challenging sport fish.
     Although spotted sand bass are not landed in great numbers, they are regionally
important to anglers who fish from shore or from small boats. MRFSS estimates that
most recreationally-caught spotted sand bass are caught from private or rental boats,
while only 8% are caught from shore, and about 3% from CPFVs. The CPFV fleet does
not target spotted sand bass since this species occurs in shallow areas where it is
difficult to navigate large vessels.
     DFG surveys between 1976 and 1981 indicate the annual catch of spotted sand
bass in southern California waters by skiff fishermen ranged from about 13,000 to
24,000 fish. The MRFSS estimates of the total sport catch, including boat and shore
fishing effort, ranged from 53,000 to 170,000 spotted sand bass per year from 1980 to
1989 and from 17,000 to 95,000 per year from 1994 to 1999 (Table 11.7).

Status of Biological Knowledge

Barred Sand Bass
    Barred sand bass range from Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz County) south to Bahia
Magdalena, Baja California, Mexico. They are rare north of Point Conception (Santa
Barbara County). Barred sand bass chiefly inhabit shallow waters near the southern
California mainland. They have been captured at depths of around 600 ft, but the
greatest concentrations are found in less than 90 ft. Young barred sand bass are
abundant in very shallow water (5 to 30 ft). The name “sand bass” is somewhat
unfortunate since they are usually closely associated with sand/rock interfaces of deep
reefs and artificial structures, and are rarely found over sandy expanses except when
breeding.



                                         11-5
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
    Barred sand bass feed mainly on small fishes (including anchovies, sardines,
and midshipman), and invertebrates such as crabs, clams, and squid. The largest
barred sand bass on record measured 26 in. long, and the heaviest weighed 11.1 lb.
Like kelp bass, barred sand bass are also relatively slow growing. A juvenile barred
sand bass is approximately 6 in. long after 1 year, and reaches sexual maturity at 3 to 5
years at a length of 7 to 10.5 in. The oldest known barred sand bass was determined to
be 24 years old.
    Barred sand bass gather to breed over sandy bottoms at depths of 60 to 120 ft in
the late spring and summer months. Spawning occurs from April through November,
usually peaking in July. Male spawning colors are usually a gray-and-white, high-
contrast pattern with large, golden-yellow crescents under the eyes. Barred sand bass
produce numerous small, free-drifting eggs that enter the plankton in coastal waters.
Young-of-the-year barred sand bass begin appearing in shallow, nearshore waters by
early fall.
    DFG tagging studies revealed that barred sand bass can move from 5 to 40 mi.
from their tagging locations. In the early 1970s, evidence was presented that tumors,
deformities, and other anomalies found in barred sand bass may have been linked to
industrial and domestic wastes discharged into the nearshore environment. Reports of
such abnormalities have decreased over the past two decades.

Kelp Bass
    Kelp bass have historically ranged as far north as the mouth of the Columbia
River in Washington and south to Bahia Magdalena, Baja California, Mexico; however,
they are rare north of Point Conception (Santa Barbara County). Kelp bass are
abundant in southern California waters including the Channel Islands, and are typically
found in shallow water (surface to 150 ft) closely associated with high-relief structure
and kelp. They range throughout the water column, but can be found in the greatest
numbers between 8 and 70 ft. In general, kelp bass live solitary lives, assembling only
to spawn and to feed on small, schooling fishes. Early tagging studies showed little
movement for the majority of kelp bass and concluded that movement, if any, was to
nearby rocky reefs or over short distances to gather for breeding. More recently,
tagging studies in the northern portion of the Southern California Bight, from Point
Conception south to the northern Channel Islands, have indicated that kelp bass are
actually quite mobile in this area, with some fish traveling as far as 50 mi.
    Kelp bass have the broad diet of a generalized carnivore. They eat small fishes
(including anchovies, sardines, surfperch, and queenfish), squids, octopuses, crabs,
shrimps, and amphipods. Kelp bass forage primarily in mid-water, but occasionally feed
on the bottom. Young kelp bass feed on small crabs, copepods, and plankton. Kelp
bass feed lightly in the winter and more heavily from May through September.
    Kelp bass mature at about three to five years of age. When mature, they
typically measure between 7 and 10.5 in. long. Mature individuals usually gather to
breed in deeper water near kelp beds and rocky headlands, in depths of up to 150 ft.
Several hundred adults may aggregate in a small area during spawning. Spawning
males usually develop high-contrast, black-and-white breeding colors with yellow-
orange snouts, while females exhibit golden hues with yellow chins and jaws.



                                        11-6
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Spawning occurs primarily around the full moon from April through November, peaking
in the summer months.
    Kelp bass produce free-drifting eggs which enter the plankton in coastal waters.
Larvae remain in the plankton for 28 to 30 days, after which they settle into shallow
water habitats that have attached algae and drift algae, including kelp. During the first
90 days of life, young kelp bass grow to a length of about 2 in. Juvenile kelp bass can
grow to lengths of 5 or 6 in. by the end of their first year, and are about 12 in. (sport-
legal size) at five years of age. The average 10-year-old kelp bass is about 18 in. long.
    As with most fishes, growth is highly variable, with the largest fish not necessarily
being the oldest. For example, the world-record kelp bass (14.5 lb) caught off Newport
Beach in 1995 was 27 years old, while a 9.5 lb fish caught at San Clemente Island in
1993 was 34 years old. Kelp bass are known to grow to 28.5 in. and 14.5 lb; the oldest
known kelp bass was 34 years old and 25 in. long.

Spotted Sand Bass
    The spotted sand bass has a historic range from Monterey (Monterey County) to
Mazatlan, Mexico. However, this species is rarely seen north of Santa Monica Bay (Los
Angeles County). Included within that range are substantial populations in the Gulf of
California. Southern California populations are typically restricted to sand or mud
habitat within shallow bays, harbors, and coastal lagoons containing eelgrass, surfgrass
and rock relief. These areas act as warm-water refuges for this generally sub-tropical
species.
    Spotted sand bass grow rapidly during their first two years. Some specimens
may grow to 8.8 in. long by the end of their first year. There is no significant difference
in growth rates between males and females.
    Spotted sand bass spawn in the warm summer months, from late May to early
September. The presence of multiple-sized, immature eggs in egg-bearing females
indicates that this species may spawn multiple times during a season. During the
spawning season, spotted sand bass gather to breed at or near the entrances of bays in
southern California. Observations of spawning in the wild indicate that females initiate
spawning by leaving the bottom and entering the water column to release eggs. At the
time of release, multiple males may dart in to fertilize the eggs. The observed episodes
were extremely brief and, once completed, the fish returned to the bottom.
    Spotted sand bass eggs and larvae are free-floating and enter the plankton in
coastal waters, settling out of the water column at 25 to 31 days. Juvenile spotted sand
bass (greater than 2 in.) have several dark stripes running length-wise along their sides,
making them similar in appearance to juvenile barred sand bass. Juvenile spotted sand
bass occupy eelgrass beds and can share these nursery environments with juvenile
barred sand bass and kelp bass. Adults usually occupy a depth of 2 to 30 ft; however,
specimens have been taken from waters as deep as 200 ft in the Gulf of California.
    The spotted sand bass appears to have a complex mating system. Individual
populations within southern California display varied patterns of reproduction. In San
Diego Bay, individual fish start their lives as females and after a period of time change
into males (a reproductive strategy called “protogynous hermaphroditism”). In Anaheim
and Newport Bays, spotted sand bass do not exhibit this reproductive strategy, and
have an essentially equal distribution of males and females throughout the age and size

                                          11-7
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
classes in the population. During the spawning season, male and female spotted sand
bass exhibit different color patterns: males display a whitish chin color and overall high-
contrast body coloration, while females display a yellow chin and a darker body. Male
spotted sand bass mature at about 1.4 years and 7.8 in., and females mature at about 1
year and 6.7 in. The impact of potential sex change, if any, on these values is
unknown.
    In California waters, adult spotted sand bass diets consist primarily of crabs and
clams, with fishes forming a relatively small component of their overall food
complement. The crab component consists of brachyuran crabs, and the dominant
bivalve in the diet is the jackknife clam.
    While spotted sand bass can reach 14 years of age, most have a maximum life
span of about 10 years. The current world record spotted sand bass is an individual
caught in 1995, which was 10 years old, 23 in. long, and weighed 6.7 lb.
    Significant physical and genetic differentiation has occurred among spotted sand
bass populations throughout their geographic range. The Gulf of California populations
appear to be distinct from those on the Pacific coast. Those populations in southern
California also appear to be genetically distinct from those on the mid-Baja Pacific
coast. This sub-population structure indicates that spotted sand bass do not travel far
from their respective habitats.

Status of Populations
   There are no current population estimates for any of the three sea bass species.

Barred Sand Bass
    Several factors seem to account for the upward trend in CPFV landings of barred
sand bass (Table 11.2). CPFVs and private boats have increasingly targeted summer
spawning schools, with CPFVs taking most of the catch. Barred sand bass are easier
to find during the summer spawning period when the fish are concentrated in well-
defined areas along the coast. New barred sand bass spawning sites discovered over
the last 20 years are now being exploited by CPFVs and private boats. As fishing effort
targeting barred sand bass has increased, there has been concern that the stock may
become over-exploited. More information must be collected before the effects of this
intense fishing effort can be determined.

Kelp Bass
    Low kelp bass landings in the mid-1970s and early 1980s may be attributed to El
Niño events, which provide anglers with alternative species to catch. Peak landings of
kelp bass have followed each El Niño event. DFG surveys of the CPFV industry in the
1970s and 1980s indicated that a stable spawning population was being maintained,
because a large number of age-classes were being caught by anglers. Approximately
85% of the kelp bass kept by CPFV anglers measured between 11.4 and 15.9 in., which
represented up to seven age-classes.




                                         11-8
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Spotted Sand Bass
    Southern California populations of spotted sand bass are limited, and genetically
distinct. The restrictive, limited environment inhabited by this species tends to amplify
the adverse effects of environmental change and recreational fishing pressure.
    Complicating matters further, recruitment (the point at which fishes attain
sufficient size to enter the fishery) for this species is sporadic, and environmental
conditions such as sea surface water temperatures may influence recruitment. Spotted
sand bass have substantial recruitment success after El Niño episodes, when
nearshore sea surface temperatures are elevated. In other years, recruitment has been
poor. This sporadic recruitment pattern may have adverse effects on a population that
is being subjected to increased angling pressure.
    The effects of increased waterfront development on spotted sand bass
populations are unknown. This development may permanently alter nursery habitat and
water quality, and may cause downward trends in recruitment, resulting in negative
impacts on certain populations.

Management Considerations
   The Master Plan for the Marine Life Management Act identified barred sand bass
and kelp bass as species in need of fishery management plans. The following
management issues could be considered prior to the development of a fishery
management plan for sea basses, however:

    •  Most barred sand bass are caught in the summer months when the fish are
      aggregated to spawn. Thus, this species may be a good candidate for the
      establishment of harvest refugia in some areas during peak spawning times.
    •  Under the current 12 in. minimum size restrictions, kelp bass populations
      appear to be self-sustaining. However, trophy-sized fish are rare. New
      conservation measures such as increasing the size limit, imposing minimum
      and maximum size limits (slot fishing), and/or promoting catch-and-release
      fishing could be explored.
    •  The available habitat for spotted sand bass is restricted in southern California.
      Studies indicate that most of the spotted sand bass caught by recreational
      anglers are released. Since they are not specifically targeted as a food fish
      and are mostly caught by recreational anglers for sport, adopting a catch-and-
      release policy might prove beneficial to this species.


                                       Larry G. Allen
                           California State University Northridge

                                      Tim E. Hovey
                         California Department of Fish and Game

                                    Revised May 2002
                          by Dennis Bedford and Connie Ryan
                         California Department of Fish and Game

                                          11-9
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Further Reading
Allen GL, TH Hovey, MS Love and JTW Smith 1995. The life history of the spotted sand bass (Paralabrax
   maculatofasciatus) within the southern California bight. CalCOFI 1995: 193-203.
Ally, JRR, DS Ono, RB Read, and M Wallace. 1991. Status of major southern California marine sportfish
   species with management recommendations, based on analyses of catch and size composition data
   collected on board commercial passenger fishing vessels from 1985 through 1987. Calif. Dept. Fish
   and Game, Mar. Resour. Div. Admin. Rept. 90-2: May, 1991.
Cordes, JF, and LG Allen. 1997. Estimates of age, growth, and settlement from otoliths of young-of-the-
   year kelp bass (Paralabrax clathratus). Bull. So. Calif. Acad. Sci. 96:43-60.
Hovey TE, and LG Allen 2000. Reproductive patterns of six populations of the spotted sand bass,
   Paralabrax maculatofasciatus, from Southern and Baja California. Copeia 2000(2): 459-468.
Love, MS, A Brooks, and JRR Ally. 1996. An analysis of commercial passenger fishing vessel fisheries for
   kelp bass and barred sand bass in the southern California Bight. Calif Dept. Fish and Game 82(3):
   105-121.
Love, MS, A Brooks, D Busatto, JS Stephens, Jr. and PA Gregory. 1996. Aspects of the life histories of
   the kelp bass (Paralabrax clathratus) and barred sand bass (P. nebulifer) from the southern California
   Bight. U.S. Fish. Bull 94: 472-481.
Miller JD, RN Lea 1972. Guide to the coastal marine fishes of California. Calif. Dep. Fish and Game Bull.
   157, 249 pp.
Young, PH 1963. The kelp bass (Paralabrax clathratus) and its fishery, 1947-1958. Calif. Dept. Fish and
   Game, Fish. Bull. 122, 67 p.



Table 11.1. Commercial landings (pounds) of sea basses (kelp bass, barred sand bass, and
spotted sand bass), 1916-1953
Year   Pounds     Year   Pounds     Year    Pounds    Year   Pounds
       852,059            636,335          416,145           207,548
 1916            1926             1936            1946
       607,734            525,840          325,000           251,413
 1917            1927             1937            1947
       783,864            626,239          286,087           164,289
 1918            1928             1938            1948
       450,229            482,536          266,153           220,579
 1919            1929             1939            1949
       210,380            509,125          245,559           205,367
 1920            1930             1940            1950
       363,856            544,879          141,977           288,572
 1921            1931             1941            1951
       316,051            436,575          122,812            86,745
 1922            1932             1942            1952
       357,269            348,392          198,132            34,115
 1923            1933             1943            1953
       466,208            412,371          229,032
 1924            1934             1944
       330,285            364,554          163,846
 1925            1935             1945
1. Data source: DFG Catch Bulletins where the combined landings of the three sea bass species are
reported as rock bass.
2. Landings consist of fish caught in California or Mexican waters and landed in California, and fish
caught in Mexican waters and shipped fresh to California.
3. Landings primarily consist of kelp bass and barred sand bass, with kelp bass comprising a larger
proportion of the landings than barred sand bass.
4. Commercial take of sea basses (barred sand bass, kelp bass, and spotted sand bass) was prohibited
in 1953.




                                                 11-10
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 11.2. Recreational commercial passenger fishing vessel (CPFV) landings (number of fish)
as reported on CPFV Logbooks for kelp bass, barred sand bass, and spotted sand bass, 1947-
2001
       Unspecified
                          Barred sand   Spotted sand
 Year    kelp and sand    Kelp bass                      Total
                            bass       bass
        basses
           682,789        ------      ------      ------   682,789
 1947
           630,223        ------      ------      ------   630,223
 1948
           796,959        ------      ------      ------   796,959
 1949
           619,397        ------      ------      ------   619,397
 1950
           781,609        ------      ------      ------   781,609
 1951
           536,075        ------      ------      ------   536,075
 1952
           711,395        ------      ------      ------   711,395
 1953
           876,667        ------      ------      ------   876,667
 1954
           497,343        ------      ------      ------   497,343
 1955
           470,362        ------      ------      ------   470,362
 1956
           609,071        ------      ------      ------   609,071
 1957
           653,671        ------      ------      ------   653,671
 1958
           428,426        ------      ------      ------   428,426
 1959
           478,656        ------      ------      ------   478,656
 1960
           613,604        ------      ------      ------   613,604
 1961
           789,149        ------      ------      ------   789,149
 1962
          1,219,344        ------      ------      ------  1,219,344
 1963
          1,103,394        ------      ------      ------  1,103,394
 1964
          1,230,313        ------      ------      ------  1,230,313
 1965
          1,278,939        ------      ------      ------  1,278,939
 1966
          1,003,914        ------      ------      ------  1,003,914
 1967
          1,317,963        ------      ------      ------  1,317,963
 1968
          1,246,175        ------      ------      ------  1,246,175
 1969
           922,260        ------      ------      ------   922,260
 1970
           948,121        ------      ------      ------   948,121
 1971
           842,681        ------      ------      ------   842,681
 1972
           656,195        ------      ------      ------   656,195
 1973
           618,034        ------      ------      ------   618,034
 1974
           39,424      353,463     106,804       ------   499,691
 1975
           14,485      485,280     156,056       ------   655,821
 1976
            6,844      272,705     118,545       ------   398,094
 1977
            6,328      360,277     110,377       ------   476,982
 1978
            3,195      290,448     169,337       ------   462,980
 1979
             375      355,950     229,107       ------   585,432
 1980
             551      501,927     237,084       ------   739,562
 1981
             630      312,891     273,828       ------   587,349
 1982
             272      304,645     158,353       ------   463,270
 1983
             530      222,771     136,612       ------   359,913
 1984
             169      273,299     299,152       ------   572,620
 1985
             72      435,516     265,014       ------   700,602
 1986
              3      325,685     408,635       ------   734,323
 1987
             26      319,629     451,125       ------   770,780
 1988
             63      393,892     421,110       ------   815,065
 1989


                                            11-11
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 11.2. Recreational commercial passenger fishing vessel (CPFV) landings (number of fish)
as reported on CPFV Logbooks for kelp bass, barred sand bass, and spotted sand bass, 1947-
2001
       Unspecified
                          Barred sand    Spotted sand
 Year    kelp and sand    Kelp bass                         Total
                           bass       bass
        basses
              56      439,701     423,885        ------     863,642
 1990
              4      321,926     495,784        ------     817,714
 1991
             153      463,673     363,304        ------     827,130
 1992
              85      355,088     313,390        ------     668,563
 1993
            ------     276,087     286,444        ------     562,531
 1994
            ------     231,687     350,540        ------     582,227
 1995
            ------     282,673     604,132        ------     886,805
 1996
            ------     335,127     490,048        ------     825,175
 1997
            ------     233,591     377,890        ------     611,481
 1998
            ------     129,475     435,778        ------     565,253
 1999
            ------     277,191     737,950        ------    1,015,141
 2000
            ------     304,002     597,274        ------     901,276
 2001
------ Landings data not available.
1. Data sources: DFG Catch Bulletins (1947-1978) and DFG Annual Reports of Statewide Fish Landings
By The CPFV Fleet (1979-2001).
2. Logbooks have been required for southern California, including fish taken in Mexican waters and
landed in California, for the entire time period reported here. Logbooks were required for central and
northern California from 1957 to present.
3. The data are number of fish reported on logbooks submitted to DFG.
4. Spotted sand bass has never been listed as a separate reporting category on CPFV logbooks. From
1947 to 1974, an unspecified kelp and sand basses reporting category was used. By 1975, kelp bass
and barred sand bass were being recorded separately. By 1994, only low numbers of fish were recorded
under unspecified kelp and sand basses.




                                              11-12
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 11.3. Estimated catch (number of fish) by recreational anglers of barred sand bass by
fishing mode, 1980-2001

                               Commercial
      Man-made     Beach and            passenger     Private or
 Year                    Shore                        Total
                              fishing vessels
      structures     bank                      rental boats
                                (CPFV)
          9,745     33,984      ------      321,554     421,791    787,073
1980
          5,163      ------     ------      162,653     206,774    374,591
1981
          4,682     3,551      ------      935,544     215,027   1,158,804
1982
          4,155     2,572      ------      232,914     187,377    427,018
1983
          6,326     4,170      ------      186,832     213,963    411,291
1984
          6,893     3,183      ------      532,639     251,785    794,499
1985
          ------     ------    12,343       537,661     398,208    948,213
1986
          ------     ------    17,258       500,371     718,514   1,236,142
1987
          ------     ------    39,859      1,272,073     809,830   2,121,762
1988
          ------     ------    5,090       769,884     520,799   1,295,773
1989
          ------     ------     ------       ------      ------    ------
1990
          ------     ------     ------       ------      ------    ------
1991
          ------     ------     ------       ------      ------    ------
1992
          2,591      835      ------      411,951     315,808    731,185
1993
          3,891     11,337      ------      383,379     292,141    690,748
1994
          9,627     4,854      ------      511,364     275,668    801,513
1995
          5,565      860      ------      502,879     234,502    743,806
1996
          6,640     3,680      ------      189,799     262,854    462,972
1997
          3,067     1,218      ------      155,849     257,498    417,632
1998
          2,403      749      ------      214,208     271,382    488,742
1999
          6,711     3,255      ------      774,009     475,316   1,259,292
2000
          3,549      885      ------      355,628     567,245    927,308
2001
------ Estimates not available.
1. Data source: MRFSS; data obtained from the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission website.
2. No estimates are available from 1990 through 1992 or for January and February of 1995. Estimates
for 2001 are preliminary. Northern California CPFVs were not fully sampled because of refusals.
3. Catch estimates do not include fish that were caught and released alive; they only include fish that
were harvested.
4. From 1986 to 1989, individual catch estimates were not made for the man-made structures mode or
the beach and bank mode. Instead, a single estimate was made for these shore modes.




                                                11-13
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 11.4. Estimated catch (pounds) by recreational anglers of barred sand bass by fishing
mode, 1980-2001

                               Commercial
      Man-made    Beach and             passenger     Private or
 Year                    Shore                        Total
                              fishing vessels
      structures    bank                       rental boats
                                (CPFV)
         11,339     28,842      ------      775,866      896,530   1,712,577
1980
         4,900      ------     ------      246,782      300,011    551,693
1981
         1,507      3,753      ------     1,340,897      312,977   1,659,134
1982
         4,277      1,238      ------      356,741      270,540    632,796
1983
         4,586      3,704      ------      294,782      321,242    624,314
1984
         5,173       705      ------      740,899      342,806   1,089,583
1985
          ------     ------    12,236       781,410      615,016   1,408,662
1986
          ------     ------    15,748       662,610     1,060,748   1,739,106
1987
          ------     ------    26,144      1,568,702     1,174,013   2,768,859
1988
          ------     ------    3,563      1,075,505      863,453   1,942,520
1989
          ------     ------     ------       ------      ------    ------
1990
          ------     ------     ------       ------      ------    ------
1991
          ------     ------     ------       ------      ------    ------
1992
         3,128       692      ------      552,154      518,025   1,073,999
1993
         2,303     12,459      ------      565,696      512,602   1,093,060
1994
         6,631      9,146      ------      872,879      512,893   1,401,549
1995
         4,808       969      ------      789,970      378,872   1,174,620
1996
         9,354      3,091      ------      279,326      409,161    700,932
1997
         4,165      1,505      ------      243,874      448,885    698,429
1998
         1,576      1,071      ------      281,291      448,850    732,788
1999
         6,386      3,255      ------     1,059,986      784,980   1,854,607
2000
         5,143      1,164      ------      556,122      968,704   1,531,134
2001
------ Estimates not available.
1. Data source: MRFSS; data obtained from the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission website.
2. No estimates are available from 1990 through 1992 or for January and February of 1995. Estimates
for 2001 are preliminary. Northern California CPFVs were not fully sampled because of refusals.
3. Catch estimates do not include fish that were caught and released alive; they only include fish that
were harvested.
4. From 1986 to 1989, individual catch estimates were not made for the man-made structures mode or
the beach and bank mode. Instead, a single estimate was made for these shore modes.




                                                 11-14
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 11.5. Estimated catch (number of fish) by recreational anglers of kelp bass by fishing mode,
1980-2001

                               Commercial
      Man-made    Beach and             passenger     Private or
 Year                    Shore                        Total
                              fishing vessels
      structures    bank                       rental boats
                                (CPFV)
         40,911     81,926      ------      664,263     541,106   1,328,206
1980
         9,671     16,482      ------      588,060     313,161    927,374
1981
         7,933      4,836      ------      628,139     183,731    824,639
1982
         11,700     10,950      ------      476,843     247,929    747,421
1983
         6,523      4,556      ------      339,206     286,628    636,912
1984
         5,155      2,796      ------      542,308     166,575    716,835
1985
          ------     ------    17,026      1,147,160     420,515   1,584,701
1986
          ------     ------    20,924       261,035     548,399    830,359
1987
          ------     ------    25,556       233,062     564,430    823,049
1988
          ------     ------    15,197       389,964     237,517    642,679
1989
          ------     ------     ------       ------      ------    ------
1990
          ------     ------     ------       ------      ------    ------
1991
          ------     ------     ------       ------      ------    ------
1992
         10,794      5,370      ------      556,579     357,651    930,393
1993
         5,720     15,462      ------      585,301     289,010    895,493
1994
         2,989      9,590      ------      456,298     218,510    687,388
1995
         7,337      1,494      ------      324,312     201,994    535,136
1996
         2,692      2,573      ------      250,744     211,718    467,727
1997
         5,688      1,103      ------      139,362     184,088    330,241
1998
         3,051       614      ------      95,722     149,447    248,833
1999
         1,214      ------     ------      363,551     292,346    657,111
2000
         1,736      ------     ------      187,795     301,019    490,550
2001
------ Estimates not available.
1. Data source: MRFSS; data obtained from the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission website.
2. No estimates are available from 1990 through 1992 or for January and February of 1995. Estimates
for 2001 are preliminary. Northern California CPFVs were not fully sampled because of refusals.
3. Catch estimates do not include fish that were caught and released alive; they only include fish that
were harvested.
4. From 1986 to 1989, individual catch estimates were not made for the man-made structures mode or
the beach and bank mode. Instead, a single estimate was made for these shore modes.




                                                11-15
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 11.6. Estimated catch (pounds) by recreational anglers of kelp bass by fishing mode, 1980-
2001

                               Commercial
      Man-made    Beach and             passenger     Private or
 Year                    Shore                        Total
                              fishing vessels
      structures    bank                       rental boats
                                (CPFV)
         29,858     37,179      ------     1,332,027     827,341   2,226,404
1980
         11,216     14,737      ------      849,176     496,125   1,371,255
1981
         5,165      5,537      ------      774,459     324,131   1,109,292
1982
         7,046     10,994      ------      628,547     400,025   1,046,612
1983
         3,351      5,819      ------      461,787     542,508   1,013,464
1984
         3,204      3,569      ------      605,223     230,601    842,597
1985
          ------     ------    16,326      1,484,317     659,544   2,160,187
1986
          ------     ------    48,303       346,158     856,723   1,251,184
1987
          ------     ------    24,760       281,721     861,350   1,167,831
1988
          ------     ------    11,355       456,606     377,594    845,555
1989
          ------     ------     ------       ------      ------    ------
1990
          ------     ------     ------       ------      ------    ------
1991
          ------     ------     ------       ------      ------    ------
1992
         15,899      7,076      ------      767,946     747,238   1,538,158
1993
         6,165     23,377      ------      861,114     541,081   1,431,737
1994
         3,510     17,021      ------      658,132     445,843   1,124,506
1995
         8,834      2,294      ------      419,536     338,703    769,366
1996
         2,590      5,084      ------      376,780     350,237    734,690
1997
         4,464      1,298      ------      185,860     328,307    519,929
1998
         2,323       931      ------      125,184     247,207    375,646
1999
         1,184      ------     ------      481,854     546,693   1,029,731
2000
         1,357      ------     ------      234,972     452,779    689,109
2001
------ Estimates not available.
1. Data source: the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS); data obtained from the
Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission website.
2. No estimates are available from 1990 through 1992 or for January and February of 1995. Estimates
for 2001 are preliminary. Northern California CPFVs were not fully sampled because of refusals.
3. Catch estimates do not include fish that were caught and released alive; they only include fish that
were harvested.
4. From 1986 to 1989, individual catch estimates were not made for the man-made structures mode or
the beach and bank mode. Instead, a single estimate was made for these shore modes.




                                                11-16
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 11.7. Estimated catch (number of fish) by recreational anglers of spotted sand bass by
fishing mode, 1980-2001

                               Commercial
      Man-made     Beach and            passenger     Private or
 Year                    Shore                        Total
                              fishing vessels
      structures     bank                       rental boats
                                (CPFV)
          5,811     14,701     ------       3,104     115,925   139,541
1980
           749      6,513     ------        ------     84,168    91,429
1981
           285      1,834     ------        ------     61,698    63,817
1982
          1,507       141     ------        987      72,418    75,053
1983
          5,998      2,877     ------        863      89,771    99,509
1984
           791      1,501     ------        ------     66,615    68,906
1985
          ------     ------    3,697        4,624     161,782   170,103
1986
          ------     ------    2,567         673     137,637   140,877
1987
          ------     ------   20,690        9,436     121,107   151,232
1988
          ------     ------    4,509         926      48,059    53,494
1989
          ------     ------    ------        ------      ------    ------
1990
          ------     ------    ------        ------      ------    ------
1991
          ------     ------    ------        ------      ------    ------
1992
          1,866      5,323     ------       4,636      82,880    94,705
1993
          3,771      3,938     ------       1,622      68,734    78,064
1994
          3,489      2,093     ------       10,818      37,526    53,927
1995
          2,073      4,790     ------       1,153      40,544    48,559
1996
          1,019      2,257     ------       1,525      45,334    50,134
1997
           187      2,446     ------        480      14,061    17,174
1998
          ------      527     ------        195      34,867    35,589
1999
          2,523      3,758     ------        356      71,217    77,854
2000
          ------     2,232     ------        ------     48,071    50,303
2001
------ Estimates not available.
1. Data source: the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS); data obtained from the
Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission website.
2. No estimates are available from 1990 through 1992 or for January and February of 1995. Estimates
for 2001 are preliminary. Northern California CPFVs were not fully sampled because of refusals.
3. Catch estimates do not include fish that were caught and released alive; they only include fish that
were harvested.
4. From 1986 to 1989, individual catch estimates were not made for the man-made structures mode or
the beach and bank mode. Instead, a single estimate was made for these shore modes.




                                                 11-17
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 11.8. Estimated catch (pounds) by recreational anglers of spotted sand bass by fishing
mode, 1980-2001

                               Commercial
      Man-made     Beach and            passenger     Private or
 Year                    Shore                        Total
                              fishing vessels
      structures     bank                       rental boats
                                (CPFV)
          4,907     15,007     ------       7,645     121,522   149,082
1980
           572      2,976     ------        ------     95,454    99,002
1981
           126      1,573     ------        ------     75,195    76,894
1982
           812       155     ------       1,568      87,272    89,806
1983
          3,591      2,827     ------        951      98,282   105,651
1984
           700       970     ------        ------     67,286    68,956
1985
          ------     ------    3,295        5,765     177,556   186,616
1986
          ------     ------    2,802         538     145,252   148,592
1987
          ------     ------   21,910        9,016     135,865   166,791
1988
          ------     ------    5,570        1,289      57,168    64,026
1989
          ------     ------    ------        ------      ------    ------
1990
          ------     ------    ------        ------      ------    ------
1991
          ------     ------    ------        ------      ------    ------
1992
          1,954      5,478     ------       8,855      98,841   115,129
1993
          4,607      5,012     ------       1,301      85,729    96,649
1994
          4,442      2,155     ------       33,672      64,166   104,435
1995
          2,456      5,490     ------       1,460      51,702    61,108
1996
          1,024      2,498     ------       1,617      55,815    60,954
1997
           173      3,075     ------        616      19,013    22,877
1998
          ------      453     ------        266      43,957    44,677
1999
          2,701      4,820     ------        449      89,905    97,875
2000
          ------     3,024     ------        ------     71,162    74,186
2001
------ Estimates not available.
1. Data source: the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS); data obtained from the
Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission website.
2. No estimates are available from 1990 through 1992 or for January and February of 1995. Estimates
for 2001 are preliminary. Northern California CPFVs were not fully sampled because of refusals.
3. Catch estimates do not include fish that were caught and released alive; they only include fish that
were harvested.
4. From 1986 to 1989, individual catch estimates were not made for the man-made structures mode or
the beach and bank mode. Instead, a single estimate was made for these shore modes.




                                                 11-18
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
                           12. OCEAN WHITEFISH

Overview of the Fishery
    Ocean whitefish, Caulolatilus princeps, belongs to the tilefish family,
Malacanthidae, and is the only representative of this family found off California except
for rare occurrences of Pacific golden-eyed tilefish, C. affinis. It is primarily a southern
California species, frequently found in association with members of the rockfish family,
Scorpaenidae, and California sheephead. Common names for ocean whitefish include
blanquillo and pez blanco.
    Ocean whitefish are found in loosely aggregated schools near high-relief seafloor
structures such as shallow banks, rocky reefs, and kelp beds. They prefer offshore
islands to the mainland coast and are abundant at Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara, Santa
Catalina, and San Clemente Islands. Otoliths (earbones) of ocean whitefish found in
kitchen middens at San Clemente Island indicate that this fish was an important food
source for Native Americans.
    Presently, peak landings occur during late winter and spring for both recreational
and commercial fisheries. Estimated recreational landings have been significantly
higher than commercial landings over the last two decades (Figure 12.1, Figure 12.3,
Table 12.1, and Table 12.4). The Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey
(MRFSS) estimates recreational catch from all modes of fishing: shore-based,
commercial passenger fishing vessels (CPFVs), and private or rental boats. MRFSS
catch estimates for 1980 through 1989 and 1993 through 2001 show average
recreational landings of approximately 173,000 lb per year for all modes of fishing
combined. In contrast, commercial landings from 1980 through 2001 ranged from a low
of about 700 lb in 1985 to a high of nearly 51,000 lb in 1994, but have averaged about
11,000 lb per year.
    Recreational landings peaked three times during the last two decades:
approximately 297,000 lb in 1986, nearly 304,000 lb in 1995, and slightly over 249,000


                 Estimated Recreational Catch of Ocean Whitefish, 1980-2001

             350
  thousands of pounds




             300
             250
             200
             150
             100
             50
              0
              1980        1985      1990      1995       2000

Figure 12.1. Estimated recreational catch (pounds) of ocean whitefish from 1980 to 1989 and 1993 to
2001. Catch estimates do not include fish that were caught and released alive. Data source is the
Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS).



                                                   12-1
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
lb in 1999 (Figure 12.1). These peaks follow El Niño events in 1982-1984, 1992, and
1997, and may represent increased reproductive success off California due to warmer
El Niño waters.
    The recreational fishery uses baited hook-and-line gear, and the daily bag limit is
10 ocean whitefish per day, per angler. Ocean whitefish are relatively easy and
enjoyable to catch, usually challenging anglers with an exciting fight.
    MRFSS data indicate nearly all ocean whitefish are caught from boats, with
CPFVs accounting for 66% of the recreational catch on average (Table 12.1 and Table
12.2). CPFV logbooks show an increase in landings since 1960 with a peak of over
144,000 fish in 2000 (Figure 12.2 and Table 12.3). The majority of ocean whitefish
taken on CPFVs are caught at the Channel Islands and offshore banks near San
Clemente Island. Most of these fish are between 1.5 to 3.5 years of age and are below
the minimum size at maturity for both males and females.


                   Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel Landings
                       of Ocean Whitefish, 1947-2001
  thousands of fish landed




               200

               150

               100

               50

                0
                1940  1950   1960    1970   1980    1990  2000

Figure 12.2. Recreational commercial passenger fishing vessel (CPFV) landings (number of fish) as
reported on CPFV Logbooks for ocean whitefish from 1947 to 2001. Data sources are California
Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Catch Bulletins (1947-1978) and DFG Annual Reports of Statewide
Fish Landings by the Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels (CPFV) Fleet (1979-2001).

     The texture and flavor of ocean whitefish is superb. The commercial catch is
sold in fresh fish markets and makes excellent sashimi, comparable in flavor and texture
to any of the most esteemed white-fleshed fish used for this purpose. In Japan, species
of tilefish similar to ocean whitefish command premium prices in the fresh fish market.
Off California, however, some ocean whitefish have an unpredictable bitterness which
has made it a less profitable and less desirable species for commercial fishermen. The
unpleasant taste remains regardless of the method used to clean, freeze, or cook them.
The bitterness may be related to the fish’s diet since the condition is apparently
restricted to fish caught in and around kelp beds or shallow water.
     Commercial landings of ocean whitefish peaked in 1926 with just over 368,000 lb
landed (Figure 12.3 and Table 12.4). Commercial landings have not approached this
level since, which may reflect low consumer demand rather than availability. A slight
increase occurred in the 1940s, probably associated with the increased demand for all


                                             12-2
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
fish during World War II. Landings at that time peaked at approximately 101,000 lb,
followed by a significant decline. Annual commercial landings from 1950 through 2001
have remained low, averaging about 7,400 lb and only exceeding 50,000 lb once in
1994.


                    Commercial Landings of Ocean Whitefish, 1916-2001
  thousands of pounds landed




                400
                350
                300
                250
                200
                150
                100
                50
                 0
                 1910  1920  1930  1940  1950  1960  1970  1980   1990  2000

Figure 12.3. Annual commercial landings (pounds) of ocean whitefish from 1916 to 2001. Data sources
are the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Catch Bulletins (1916-1949, 1951-1974, 1978),
Draft Program Environmental Document Ocean Sportfishing Regulations, September 2001 (1950, 1975-
1977, 1979-1983) and the DFG commercial landing receipt database (1984-2001).

    The primary commercial gear used to take ocean whitefish is hook-and-line gear.
Smaller quantities are taken incidentally with set longline, fish traps, and entangling nets
(such as set gill nets).
    The commercial premium live-fish fishery, which emerged in the late 1980s and
early 1990s, has a high incidental catch rate for ocean whitefish in southern California.
Although this hook-and-line fishery targets nearshore rockfish species, cabezon, and
California sheephead, ocean whitefish are often unintentionally hooked. Increased
consumer demand for quality fresh fish products and high market prices for nearshore
species has caused increased fishing pressure in the nearshore, and coincidentally,
higher landings of ocean whitefish. Live nearshore rockfish, cabezon and California
sheephead commanded higher prices than live ocean whitefish, which are considered
less desirable.
    The first live ocean whitefish landing in the California Department of Fish and
Game (DFG) commercial records occurred in 1993. The average price paid for live
ocean whitefish from 1993 to 2001 was $1.72 per lb, $0.43 more per lb than the price
paid for dead ocean whitefish landed during the same time period. Live landings
peaked in 1998 at about 10,300 lb, which represented 43% of the commercial landings
for that year. The following year, 71% of the catch was landed live; however, total
landings for 1999 were approximately half of those in 1998. In 2000 and 2001, the
average price per lb was the same for dead as for live ocean whitefish. The proportion
of the catch landed live decreased to 59% in 2000 (5,300 lb) and down to 48% in 2001
(5,900 lb).


                                                  12-3
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Status of Biological Knowledge
    Ocean whitefish have elongated bodies covered with small scales, and relatively
thick, fleshy lips. Overall coloration is yellowish-brown above and lighter below. The
dorsal fin is continuous, beginning above the pectoral fin and ending near the broad,
yellow tail. Right after capture, their coloration also includes a central light-blue band
running the length of the dorsal and anal fins. The long, pointed, pectoral fins are bluish
with a yellow streak near the center. This bright coloration fades as the fish dies.
    The geographic range for ocean whitefish is from Vancouver Island, British
Columbia, Canada to Peru, including the Galapagos Islands and the Gulf of California.
It is most abundant south of Point Conception (Santa Barbara County) and occurrences
north of Monterey (Monterey County) are rare.
    Ocean whitefish prefer offshore rocky reefs and banks, which are abundant
around the Channel Islands. They are found periodically in kelp beds, although they
have no apparent relationship with giant kelp. Adults can be found from 4 to15 ft above
the bottom anywhere from the shallow subtidal area to 450 ft, but are commonly caught
at depths of 90 to 200 ft.
    Ocean whitefish have relatively small mouths, and accordingly feed upon small
organisms including crabs (such as the pelagic red crab) and other crustaceans,
shrimps, euphausiids, small octopuses, squid, and various small fishes, especially
anchovy and lanternfish. Pelagic juvenile ocean whitefish have been found in the
stomachs of albacore, and adult ocean whitefish are preyed upon by giant sea bass,
sharks, and other large fishes.
    The maximum life span of ocean whitefish is thought to be about 13 years with a
maximum length of 40 in. Maximum weight is thought to be about 12 lb; however, fish
exceeding 10 lb are rarely seen. In one study, the oldest of several hundred ocean
whitefish sampled was 13 years old, weighing 7.5 lb and measuring 25.5 in. Females
are believed to mature slightly earlier than males. A 1980 study examining 485 ocean
whitefish found that females seemed mature at 3 to 4 years (16 to 19 in. total length)
whereas males appeared mature at 4 to 5 years (19 to 22 in. total length). No
significant difference in growth rates has been found between the sexes.
    Little is known about spawning and recruitment of ocean whitefish in California
waters; however, a number of studies in California and Mexico have indicated that the
spawning period is lengthy. A 1994 study examining developmental stages of gonads,
conducted in the Bay of La Paz, Mexico, concluded that ocean whitefish spawn annually
with a prolonged spawning period from November through March, with females
spawning at least twice, possibly three times, during that period. Ocean whitefish eggs
presumably drift with ocean currents. Plankton surveys have found that larval
distributions of ocean whitefish are centered around Punta Eugenia in central Baja
California, Mexico, and surveys have not found larvae off southern California.
    Specific details about the northward migration of ocean whitefish remain
unknown, particularly with respect to timing, age, and size of individuals. It is also not
known if these same individuals return south to spawn again. Ocean current systems
seem to play a critical role in the range of distribution and magnitude of ocean whitefish
populations off California. One possibility is that northward currents may carry eggs,
larvae, and juvenile fish long distances from their origin, perhaps providing an influx of

                                          12-4
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
individuals to colonize cooler, northern waters. The reproductive success of ocean
whitefish is likely inhibited in a cold water environment, which could explain observed
variations in abundance off California. Indeed, abundance appears to increase
following El Niño events.

Status of the Population
    The current population level is unknown for ocean whitefish. It is thought that the
fish off southern California are derived from the spawning population off central and
southern Baja California, Mexico.

Management Considerations
    No minimum size limit is required for ocean whitefish and any gear may be used
to catch them. A large portion of recreationally caught ocean whitefish is immature.
Recently, a size limit was considered as a management option; however, it is unclear
whether this type of regulation would contribute to the reproductive success of fish
caught in California waters. There is no direct evidence that ocean whitefish can
successfully reproduce off California, and undersized fish may not survive once
released because of problems readjusting buoyancy.
    Much of the ocean whitefish catch comes from the Channel Islands. The new
marine protected areas (MPAs) at the Channel Islands may affect the overall take of
ocean whitefish. However, it is unknown if these MPAs will have an effect on ocean
whitefish populations since ocean whitefish off California are not thought to contribute to
the overall reproductive success of the population.


                                         Lisa A. Wertz
                            California Department of Fish and Game

                                         Susumu Kato
                                National Marine Fisheries Service

                                         Revised July 2002


Further Reading
California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG). 1982. California Fish and Wildlife Plan. Volume II-
  Species Plans, Part C-Living Marine Resources. Preliminary Draft. June 1982. California Department
  of Fish and Game, 1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento, California, 95814.
California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG). 2001. Draft Program Environmental Document Ocean
  Sportfishing Regulations Concerning Ocean Whitefish. Preliminary Draft. September 2001. California
  Department of Fish and Game, 1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento, California, 95814.
Cooksey, DJ. 1980. Age, Growth and Maturity of the Ocean Whitefish, Caulolatilus princeps. Thesis.
Dooley, JK. 1978. Systematics and biology of the tilefishes (Perciformes: Branchiostegidae and
  Malacanthidae), with descriptions of two new species. NOAA Technical Report, NMFS Circular 411,
  78 p.
Elorduy-Garay, JF and J Caraveo-Patino. 1994. Feeding habits of the ocean whitefish, Caulolatilus
  princeps Jenyns 1842 (Pisces: Branchiostegidae), in La Paz Bay, B.C.S., Mexico. Ciencias Marinas
  20(2):199-218.


                                                12-5
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Elorduy-Garay, JF and S Ramirez-Luna. 1994. Gonadal development and spawning of female ocean
   whitefish, Caulolatilus princeps (Pisces: Branchiostegidae) in the Bay of La Paz, B.C.S., Mexico.
   Journal of Fish Biology 44:553-566.
Feder, HM, CH Turner, and C Limbaugh. 1974. Observations on fishes associated with kelp beds in
   southern California. California Department of Fish and Game, Fish Bulletin 160,144 p.
Fitch, JE and RJ Lavenberg. 1971. Marine Food and Game Fishes of California. University of California
   Press, Berkeley. 179 p.
Kato, S. 1992. Ocean Whitefish. In: WS Leet, CM Dewees, and CW Haugen (Editors), California’s living
   marine resources and their utilization, p 201-202. California Sea Grant Extension Program,
   Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Biology, University of California, Davis, California Sea Grant
   Extension Publication UCSGEP-92-12.
Love, M. 1996. Probably More Than You Want To Know About The Fishes Of The Pacific Coast. Really
   Big Press, Santa Barbara, California, 381 p.
Miller, DJ and RN Lea. 1972. Guide to the Coastal Marine Fishes of California. California Department of
   Fish and Game. Fish Bulletin 157, 249 pp.
Robins, CR, RM Bailey, CE Bond, JR Brooker, EA Lachner, RN Lea, and WB Scott. 1991. Common and
   scientific names of fishes from the United States and Canada. American Fisheries Society, Special
   Publication No. 20, Fifth Edition, 183 p.




                                                 12-6
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 12.1. Estimated catch (pounds) by recreational anglers of ocean whitefish by fishing mode,
1980-2001

                               Commercial
                                passenger
      Man-made     Beach and                      Private or
 Year                    Shore                        Total
      structures     bank             fishing vessels   rental boats
                                (CPFV)
           350      3,799      ------      87,353     115,093   206,595
1980
          ------     ------     ------      96,616      55,160   151,776
1981
          ------     ------     ------      65,044      42,277   107,320
1982
          ------     ------     ------      76,187      20,932    97,118
1983
          ------     ------     ------      48,252      51,316    99,567
1984
          ------     ------     ------      184,853      43,728   228,581
1985
          ------     ------     ------      262,236      34,410   296,646
1986
          ------     ------     ------      62,099      46,044   108,143
1987
          ------     ------     149       75,887      75,989   152,025
1988
          ------     ------     ------      39,405      9,334    48,739
1989
          ------     ------     ------       ------      ------    ------
1990
          ------     ------     ------       ------      ------    ------
1991
          ------     ------     ------       ------      ------    ------
1992
          ------     ------     ------      90,991      21,260   112,251
1993
          ------     ------     ------      150,830     104,122   254,952
1994
          ------      256      ------      233,727      69,682   303,665
1995
           111      ------     ------      127,423      49,425   176,960
1996
          ------     ------     ------      62,810      32,731    95,540
1997
           742      ------     ------      91,676      58,168   150,586
1998
          ------     ------     ------      205,301      43,904   249,205
1999
          ------     ------     ------      140,810      90,377   231,187
2000
          ------     ------     ------      97,939     120,087   218,026
2001
------ Estimates not available.
1. Data source: the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS); data obtained from the
Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission website.
2. No estimates are available from 1990 through 1992 or for January and February of 1995. Estimates
for 2001 are preliminary. Northern California CPFVs were not fully sampled because of refusals.
3. Catch estimates do not include fish that were caught and released alive; they only include fish that
were harvested.
4. From 1986 to 1989, individual catch estimates were not made for the man-made structures mode or
the beach and bank mode. Instead, a single estimate was made for these shore modes.




                                                 12-7
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 12.2. Estimated catch (number of fish) by recreational anglers of ocean whitefish by fishing
mode, 1980-2001

                               Commercial
      Man-made     Beach and             passenger     Private or
 Year                    Shore                        Total
                              fishing vessels
      structures     bank                       rental boats
                                (CPFV)
           817      1,914      ------      37,607      78,329   118,667
1980
          ------     ------     ------      35,248      22,158    57,406
1981
          ------     ------     ------      62,725      14,377    77,102
1982
           161      ------     ------      36,293      16,115    52,569
1983
          ------     ------     ------      65,976      27,843    93,819
1984
          ------     ------     ------      243,053      44,514   287,566
1985
          ------     ------     ------      231,762      31,561   263,323
1986
          ------     ------     ------      85,191      39,636   124,828
1987
          ------     ------     226       89,656      84,158   174,040
1988
          ------     ------     ------      34,592      8,413    43,006
1989
          ------     ------     ------       ------      ------    ------
1990
          ------     ------     ------       ------      ------    ------
1991
          ------     ------     ------       ------      ------    ------
1992
          ------     ------     ------      48,001      19,741    67,742
1993
          ------     ------     ------      207,747      84,406   292,153
1994
          ------      241      ------      260,234      74,034   334,510
1995
           202      ------     ------      139,940      37,368   177,510
1996
          ------     ------     ------      63,028      27,542    90,570
1997
           641      ------     ------      73,142      43,043   116,826
1998
          ------     ------     ------      174,139      38,240   212,379
1999
          ------     ------     ------      120,920      73,040   193,960
2000
          ------     ------     ------      95,109     104,205   199,315
2001
------ Estimates not available.
1. Data source: the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS); data obtained from the
Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission website.
2. No estimates are available from 1990 through 1992 or for January and February of 1995. Estimates
for 2001 are preliminary. Northern California CPFVs were not fully sampled because of refusals.
3. Catch estimates do not include fish that were caught and released alive; they only include fish that
were harvested.
4. From 1986 to 1989, individual catch estimates were not made for the man-made structures mode or
the beach and bank mode. Instead, a single estimate was made for these shore modes.




                                                 12-8
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 12.3. Recreational commercial passenger fishing vessel (CPFV) landings (number of fish)
as reported on CPFV Logbooks for ocean whitefish, 1947-2001
        Number          Number          Number           Number
   Year            Year            Year            Year
        of fish          of fish          of fish           of fish
         5,160           6,647          35,165           44,777
   1947            1961           1975             1989
         14,124           6,157          38,363           44,789
   1948            1962           1976             1990
         14,576           6,231          61,058           51,605
   1949            1963           1977             1991
         14,925           6,949          38,006           40,702
   1950            1964           1978             1992
         8,828           13,810          36,957           44,355
   1951            1965           1979             1993
         10,003           15,587          28,810          100,599
   1952            1966           1980             1994
         4,963           18,184          24,378          133,666
   1953            1967           1981             1995
         9,952           22,155          22,604          108,370
   1954            1968           1982             1996
         9,508           36,474          22,095           87,655
   1955            1969           1983             1997
         7,951           40,990          64,241           69,266
   1956            1970           1984             1998
         4,389           29,800          84,441          139,285
   1957            1971           1985             1999
         6,143           24,632          73,919          144,060
   1958            1972           1986             2000
         5,608           42,362          34,967          138,011
   1959            1973           1987             2001
         5,850           23,301          56,884
   1960            1974           1988
------ Landings data not available.
1. Data sources: DFG Catch Bulletins (1947-1978) and DFG Annual Reports of Statewide Fish Landings
by the Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels (CPFV) Fleet (1979-2001).
2. Logbooks have been required for southern California, including fish taken in Mexican waters and
landed in California, for the entire time period reported here. Logbooks were required for central and
northern California from 1957 to present.
3. The data are number of fish reported on logbooks submitted to DFG.


Table 12.4. Commercial landings (pounds) of ocean whitefish, 1916-2001
Year   Pounds   Year   Pounds    Year   Pounds   Year   Pounds    Year   Pounds
       32,196        95,053        20,626         1,059        5,627
1916         1933          1950         1967         1984
       25,976        93,191        18,198         2,647         722
1917         1934          1951         1968         1985
       31,014        57,771        8,808         4,490        2,657
1918         1935          1952         1969         1986
       28,016        46,603        5,839         1,778        7,036
1919         1936          1953         1970         1987
       13,711        57,198        3,634         3,706        3,095
1920         1937          1954         1971         1988
       29,439        68,012        2,312         2,569        3,174
1921         1938          1955         1972         1989
       30,270        43,688        1,820         1,584        6,067
1922         1939          1956         1973         1990
       39,908        59,606         834         2,359        5,014
1923         1940          1957         1974         1991
      273,077        36,970        1,902          975        5,886
1924         1941          1958         1975         1992
      222,112        35,986        1,319         1,040       10,380
1925         1942          1959         1976         1993
      368,064        97,434        3,518         1,651       50,746
1926         1943          1960         1977         1994
      313,102       100,801        25,191         2,371       27,807
1927         1944          1961         1978         1995
      222,192        61,988        12,002         2,278       31,465
1928         1945          1962         1979         1996
      201,725        57,271        3,254         1,620       21,232
1929         1946          1963         1980         1997
      225,102        40,946        1,771          885       23,857
1930         1947          1964         1981         1998
      221,200        41,840        1,982         1,391       11,168
1931         1948          1965         1982         1999
      162,027        37,821        2,709         1,974        8,816
1932         1949          1966         1983         2000
                                                 12,346
                                            2001
Data sources are the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Catch Bulletins (1916-1949, 1951-
1974, 1978), Draft Program Environmental Document Ocean Sportfishing Regulations, September 2001
(1950, 1975-1977, 1979-1983) and the DFG commercial landing receipt database (1984-2001).


                                                12-9
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
                    13. SURFPERCHES

Overview of the Fishery
    The 22 species in the surfperch family, Embiotocidae, are commonly called
surfperch, seaperch and perch. They are found predominantly in temperate,
northeastern Pacific waters; however, three species are found in the Sea of Japan and
one species (tule perch, Hysterocarpus traski) occupies freshwater and estuarine
habitats in California. Eighteen species occur in California’s coastal waters:

        •  barred surfperch Amphistichus argenteus
        •  black perch Embiotoca jacksoni
        •  calico surfperch Amphistichus koelzi
        •  dwarf perch Micrometrus minimus
        •  kelp perch Brachyistius frenatus
        •  pile perch Rhacochilus vacca
        •  pink seaperch Zalembius rosaceus
        •  rainbow seaperch Hypsurus caryi
        •  redtail surfperch Amphistichus rhodoterus
        •  reef perch Micrometrus aurora
        •  rubberlip seaperch Rhacochilus toxotes
        •  sharpnose seaperch Phanerodon atripes
        •  shiner perch Cymatogaster aggregate
        •  silver surfperch Hyperprosopon ellipticum
        •  spotfin surfperch Hyperprosopon anale
        •  striped seaperch Embiotoca lateralis
        •  walleye surfperch Hyperprosopon argenteum
        •  white seaperch Phanerodon furcataus

The island surfperch, Cymatogaster gracilis, was once thought to be a separate
species, however it is now considered synonymous with shiner perch.
    There are both recreational and commercial fisheries for surfperches in
California. Surfperches are easy to catch and highly sought. They are caught using
hook-and-line gear and a variety of baits such as clams, tubeworms, or sand crabs, as
well as artificial lures. The recreational fishery is enjoyed by anglers of all ages who fish
for surfperches from boats, piers, jetties, and sandy beaches. Flyfishing for surfperches
has become popular in recent years. Commercially-caught surfperches are sold as
food and as fishing bait. Commercial fishermen receive from $0.25 to $5.00 per pound
for surfperches.
    Currently, the recreational take of surfperches is far larger than the commercial
take (Figure 13.1, Figure 13.2, Table 13.4 and Table 13.5). Recreational catch
estimates and commercial landings from 1980 through 1989 and from 1993 through
2001 indicate that the recreational catch averages about 739,000 lb per year, while the
commercial landings average about 127,000 lb per year, which is approximately 17% of
the recreational catch.




                                           13-1
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Commercial Surfperch Fishery
    Commercial landings data are available from 1916 to 2001; however, from 1916
through 1927, DFG reported as “perch” the combined landings of all surfperches and
other perch-like species such as blacksmith, halfmoon, opaleye, and sargo. After 1927,
DFG reported separately the landings of surfperches, blacksmith, halfmoon, opaleye,
and sargo, but the surfperch landings reported by fish dealers on landing receipts may
have included other perch-like species. In addition, individual landing receipts
frequently do not specify the type of surfperch landed. For example, during the 1990s
approximately 33% of the commercial landing receipts did not indicate which species of
surfperch had been landed.


                      Commercial Landings of Surfperches, 1916-2001
  thousands of pounds landed




                400
                350
                300
                250
                200
                150
                100
                50
                 0
                 1910  1920  1930  1940  1950  1960  1970  1980  1990  2000

Figure 13.1. Annual commercial landings (pounds) of surfperches from 1916 to 2001. Data sources are
the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Catch Bulletins (1916-1983) and the DFG commercial
landing receipt database (1984-2001). Landings of surfperches, blacksmith, halfmoon, opaleye, and
sargo were combined and reported as “perch” from 1916 to 1927. After 1927, surfperches, blacksmith,
halfmoon, opaleye, and sargo were reported separately, but the reported surfperch landings may include
some of the other perch-like species.

    Annual commercial landings of surfperches have varied over time (Figure 13.1
and Table 13.4). Large drops in the landings occurred during two periods: from 1938 to
1941, and from 1983 to 2001. The drop in landings from 1938 to 1941 was due to
decreased effort (because of the low prices offered to fishermen for surfperches) rather
than a lack of fish, whereas the drop in landings from 1983 to 2001 appears to be due to
declines in surfperch populations.
    In addition to fluctuations in total surfperch landings, the composition and location
of landings have changed as well. In the 1930s, an estimated 69% of the commercial
surfperch landings came from waters north of Point Arguello (Santa Barbara County),
and the catch was dominated by rubberlip seaperch, striped seaperch, walleye
surfperch and white seaperch. In the 1990s, however, these species each comprised
less than 1% of the identified species in commercial landings. Barred and redtail
surfperches dominated the commercial landings in the 1990s, with 93% of landings
coming from north of Point Arguello. The differences in fishing location and catch
composition from the 1930s to the 1990s may be attributed to a variety of factors, such

                                                 13-2
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
as changes in the locations fished, in regulations, in the abundance of various species,
and in the gear used to catch surfperches.
    In the 1930s, fishing gear used to catch surfperches differed by area. Beach
seines were used in bays and estuaries in northern California, lampara nets and drift gill
nets1 in Monterey Bay, and lampara nets and purse seines in southern California. In
the 1990s, hook-and-line gear was the primary gear used to catch surfperch. The
dominant species in the 1930s (rubberlip seaperch, striped seaperch, walleye surfperch
and white seaperch) frequently occur in estuaries, while the dominant species in the
1990s (barred and redtail surfperch) are common along sandy beaches. The
degradation and loss of estuarine habitats in California may have been a factor in the
declines of surfperch populations, especially for those species that use estuaries.
    In the 1990s, only about 67% of the commercial landing receipts indicated the
species of surfperches landed. Redtail surfperch accounted for 54% of these landings,
while barred surfperch accounted for 40%. Both redtail and barred surfperches are
primarily caught from beaches with hook-and-line gear during the birthing season
(spring to early fall for redtail surfperch, and spring to summer for barred surfperch).
The commercial fishery for redtail surfperch is centered in the Crescent City/Eureka
area, while the commercial fishery for barred surfperch is centered in the Morro Bay
area.
    Commercial restrictions include a closed season from May 1 through July 15 for
all surfperches except shiner perch (which may be taken at any time). The closed
season was first implemented in 1913, and was changed in 1963 to allow the take of
shiner perch during the closed season. In 1953, the commercial take of surfperch was
prohibited south of Point Arguello; however, the law was modified in 1959 to prohibit the
commercial take of only three particular species south of Point Arguello: barred, calico,
and redtail surfperches (however, redtail surfperch are not know to occur south of Point
Arguello).

Recreational Surfperch Fishery
    Catch estimates for the recreational fishery are available from 1980 to 1989 and
from 1993 to 2001 through the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey
(MRFSS)2. During the last two decades, the size of the total recreational catch has
fluctuated, but has generally declined (Figure 13.2, Table 13.5 and Table 13.6). The
average annual catch from 1993 through 2001 is 40% smaller than the average annual
catch from 1981 through 1989. The average annual catch and the catch-per-unit-of-
effort for most surfperch species also declined from 1981 through 1989 and from 1993
through 2001 (Table 13.1).
    The MRFSS estimates indicate that in the last two decades about 90% of
surfperches were caught from shore, 9% from private or rental boats, and less than 1%



1 Surfperch were frightened into drift gill nets by setting the net close to shore and splashing the water
between the shore and the net, or by setting in a circle around the fish and throwing a brick or stone into
the center of the circle.
2 The catch estimates for 1980 are not used here to compare the catches from different time periods
because the effort data used to calculate those estimates is of poor quality.

                                                  13-3
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
                  Estimated Recreational Catch of Surfperches, 1980-2001

             2,500
  thousands of pounds




             2,000

             1,500

             1,000

             500

              0
              1980       1985      1990       1995     2000

Figure 13.2. Estimated recreational catch (pounds) of surfperches from 1980 to 1989 and 1993 to 2001.
Catch estimates do not include fish that were caught and released alive. Data source is the Marine
Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS).

from commercial passenger fishing vessels. Barred surfperch, black perch, redtail
surfperch, shiner perch, silver surfperch, striped seaperch, and walleye surfperch
are the most commonly caught species statewide. Barred surfperch comprise about
one-half of the surfperch catch in southern California and one-third of the surfperch
catch statewide.
    During the last two decades, approximately 59% of the recreational surfperch
catch has come from central and northern California, and 41% of the catch has come
from southern California. The geographic distribution of the catch varies by species and
by location (Table 13.1). Approximately 76% of the recreational surfperch catch comes
from ocean waters and 24% from bays and estuaries
    Until 2002, there was no recreational daily limit or possession limit on shiner
perch, and the daily and possession limit for all other species of surfperch was 20, with
not more than 10 of any one species. In an effort to reduce the recreational harvest of
surfperches and stabilize population levels, the daily and possession limits were
reduced in 2002 to an aggregate total of five surfperches for all species except shiner
perch (limit of twenty). In addition, a minimum size limit was established for redtail
surfperch of 10.5 inches, and a closed season (April 1 to July 31) was established in
San Francisco Bay for all surfperch species except shiner perch.

Status of Biological Knowledge
    Surfperches can be identified by their elliptical, compressed body form, single
dorsal fin, large eyes, small mouth, and moderately- to deeply-forked tail fin. Some are
silvery and many are marked with bars or stripes. Their most notable trait, however, is
their mode of reproduction.
    Surfperches bear live, highly developed young that swim at birth. Newborns are
relatively large, ranging from about 1 to 2.5 in. depending upon the species. The
number of young in a brood is relatively low, ranging from around a dozen to a little
more than 100 (Table 13.2). For all species, brood size tends to increase with the size
of the female. The age at sexual maturity varies by species and by sex. Males of a few

                                               13-4
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 13.1. Summary of recreational catches of marine surfperches from 1981 through 1989 and from
1993 through 2001 based on Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey data
  Species  Geographic Location of catch       Average    Trends in the catch:     Primary
       distribution              annual catch   change between the      fishing
        of catch                         periods 1981-1989     modes
                                      and 1993-2001
       North/ South  Ocean   Bays and Number of Weight (lb) Average    Average
       Central          estuaries  fish        number of  catch per
                                   fish per year 1000 angler
                                           hours
       40% 60%     98%     2%   374,000 255,000    13%     45%   beach and
barred
                                    decrease increase bank (86%)
surfperch
       38% 62%     57%     43%    68,000 43,000    21%     44%   all shore
Black
                                    decrease increase modes
perch
                                                (58%);
                                                private or
                                                rental boats
                                                (41%)
       66% 34%     96%     4%    28,000 15,000    67%     50%   beach and
calico
                                    decrease decrease bank (89%)
surfperch
       Rarely landed because of its small size
dwarf
perch
       Rarely landed because of its small size
kelp
perch
       70% 30%     47%     53%    45,000 57,000    80%     73%   all shore
pile
                                    decrease decrease modes
perch
                                                (71%);
                                                private or
                                                rental boats
                                                (29%)
       Rarely landed
pink
seaperch
       85% 15%     50%     50%    12,000  6,000   23%     78%   all shore
rainbow
                                    decrease increase modes
seaperch
                                                (86%);
                                                private or
                                                rental boats
                                                (14%)
       99%   1%   84%     16%    67,000 54,000    78%     84%   beach and
redtail
                                    decrease decrease bank (91%)
surfperch
       Rarely landed because of its small size
reef
perch
       53% 47%     56%     44%    32,000 38,000    56%     18%   all shore
rubberlip
                                    decrease decrease modes
seaperch
                                                (53%);
                                                private or
                                                rental boats
                                                (46%)
       33% 67%     82%     18%     2,000  1,000   19%     29%   man-made
sharpnose
                                    increase decrease structures
seaperch
                                                (25%); CPFV
                                                (57%)


                                                13-5
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 13.1. Summary of recreational catches of marine surfperches from 1981 through 1989 and from
1993 through 2001 based on Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey data
  Species   Geographic Location of catch        Average     Trends in the catch:     Primary
        distribution              annual catch    change between the      fishing
         of catch                         periods 1981-1989     modes
                                       and 1993-2001
        North/ South   Ocean   Bays and Number of Weight (lb) Average    Average
       Central            estuaries fish        number of  catch per
                                     fish per year 1000 angler
                                             hours
        74% 26%      54%     46%   109,000 10,000     42%     25%   man-made
shiner
                                     decrease decrease structures
perch
                                                  (84%);
        67% 33%      84%     16%   76,000 20,000     55%     28%   beach and
silver
                                     decrease decrease bank (72%);
surfperch
                                                  man-made
                                                  structures
                                                  (26%)
       Rarely landed because of its small size
spotfin
surfperch
        97%    3%    68%     32%   82,000 76,000     44%     40%   all shore
striped
                                     decrease decrease modes
seaperch
                                                  (87%);
                                                  private or
                                                  rental boats
                                                  (13%)
        49% 51%      77%     23%   171,000 46,000     47%     33%   man-made
walleye
                                     decrease decrease structures
surfperch
                                                  (69%); beach
                                                  and bank
                                                  (25%)
        71% 29%      44%     56%   45,000 18,000     67%     62%   all shore
white
                                     decrease decrease modes
seaperch
                                                  (82%);
                                                  private or
                                                  rental boats
                                                  (17%)
1. No estimates are available from 1990 through 1992 or for January and February of 1995.
2. Catch estimates do not include fish that were caught and released alive; they only include fish that were
harvested.
3. North/Central is the area north of Point Conception; South is the area south of Point Conception.




species are reproductively mature at birth, while, for example, female redtail surfperch
do not reach maturity until they are 3 to 4 years old. Many surfperch species mate in
the fall or winter (Table 13.2), and a number of species exhibit complicated courting
behaviors. Fertilization is internal and the females of most species store sperm for
several months after mating. Gestation lasts from 3 to 6 months. The birthing period
varies by species and location, but most surfperches give birth in the spring and
summer (Table 13.2).


                                                  13-6
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 13.2. Summary of reproductive information for marine surfperch species in California
          Brood size (range)1
Species                  Mating Seasons       Release of young
            4 to 113         fall and winter      spring and summer
barred surfperch
            5 to 31         most mating is in summer  most births are in the
black perch
                         and fall, but have been  spring and summer, but
                         reported mating year-   young are reported year-
                         round           round
            NA            NA             NA
calico surfperch
            2 to 25         summer           spring and summer
dwarf perch
            insufficient data    fall and winter      spring and summer
kelp perch
            7 to 80         fall            spring and summer
pile perch
            2 to 6          March to June       winter
pink seaperch
            9 to 22         fall            summer and fall
rainbow seaperch
            1 to 45         winter           spring to early fall
redtail surfperch
            NA            summer           spring and summer
reef perch
            insufficient data    NA             spring, summer and fall -
rubberlip seaperch
                                      based on fish with
                                      embryos
            Insufficient data (one  NA             summer
sharpnose seaperch
            specimen examined
            with 7 young)
            2 to 36         spring and summer     spring and summer (about
shiner perch
                                      one year after mating)
            3 to 17         fall to early winter    spring and summer
silver surfperch
            4 to 20         NA             summer - based on the
spotfin surfperch
                                      number of small juveniles
                                      in coastal waters
            9 to 92         fall            summer
striped seaperch
            1 to 19         fall to early winter    spring and summer
walleye surfperch
            8 to 33         NA             spring and summer
white seaperch

1. Minimum brood size is not well-known for most species.
2. NA = not available.


    The maximum size and life span for surfperches varies by species. The
maximum size ranges from 6.25 in. to 19.6 in. (Table 13.3), and the maximum life span
ranges from 2 to 10 years.
    Collectively, California’s surfperch species range from southeastern Alaska to
central Baja California, Mexico (Table 13.3). The center of most species’ ranges is
central California. The redtail surfperch is the only marine surfperch species in
California whose range does not extend into Baja California. Seven of California’s
marine surfperch species are found only south of the California-Oregon border, while
eleven have ranges that extend north of the border.
    Surfperch species are found in a variety of habitats, including beaches, rocky
substrate, and kelp beds. A few species, including the pile perch, rubberlip seaperch,
shiner perch, walleye surfperch, and white seaperch, inhabit more than one habitat
type. The majority of surfperches, however, occupy only one type of habitat. Species


                                                13-7
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
most commonly found along beaches include the barred surfperch, calico surfperch,
redtail surfperch, silver surfperch, and the spotfin surfperch. Black perch, dwarf perch,
kelp perch, rainbow seaperch, reef perch, sharpnose seaperch, and striped seaperch
tend to be associated with rocky substrate and kelp beds. The pink seaperch inhabits
deep water. Many species move to different areas for mating and birthing; for example,
female surfperches may move into shallow coastal waters, or bays and estuaries, to
give birth.
    The diets of surfperches are quite varied (Table 13.3), but most eat small
crustaceans such as isopods (also known as rock lice), amphipods (also known as
skeleton shrimp), small crabs (such as sand crabs), and copepods. Many eat mollusks
and polychaete worms. Surfperches are usually bottom feeders, but may also feed mid-
water when competitors are absent. Black perch, kelp perch, pile perch, rainbow
seaperch, sharpnose seaperch, and white seaperch can act as “cleaners”, removing
external parasites from other fish.
    Surfperches are prey for larger fish such as kelp bass, barred sand bass,
California halibut, striped bass, sturgeon, rockfishes and salmon. They are also eaten
by harbor seals and birds (including the great blue heron, least tern, Caspian tern,
Forster’s tern, cormorants, and various gulls).
    Much information is lacking on this group. Life history and habitat requirements
are areas in need of more research.

Table 13.3. Summary of biological information for marine surfperch species in California
Species    Range         Depth   Main habitat      Maximum Foods
                                   size
        Bodega Bay        surface   sandy beaches      17 in   sand crabs and
barred
        (Sonoma County) to    to 240 ft                    other
surfperch
        central Baja                               crustaceans,
        California, Mexico                            bivalves,
                                             echinoderms,
                                             and fish eggs
        Fort Bragg        intertidal  rocky areas near kelp;  15.35 in  polychaete
black
        (Mendocino County)    to 150 ft  kelp beds;             worms,
perch
        to central Baja            occasionally around         bryozoans,
        California, Mexico          piers and pilings and        mollusks, and
        including Guadalupe          in coastal bays           small
        Island                                  crustaceans
        northern Washington   surface   sandy beaches      12 in   small
calico
        to northern Baja     to 30 ft                     crustaceans
surfperch
        California, Mexico
        Bodega Bay        tidepools  shallow eelgrass and   6.25 in  small
dwarf
        (Sonoma County) to    to 30 ft   surfgrass beds,           crustaceans,
perch
        central Baja             shallow rocky inshore        mollusks,
        California, Mexico          areas such as reefs         polychaete
                           and jetties             worms and
                                             algae




                                                13-8
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 13.3. Summary of biological information for marine surfperch species in California
Species    Range         Depth   Main habitat      Maximum Foods
                                   size
        southeastern Alaska   surface   kelp beds in coastal   8.5 in  small
kelp
        to central Baja     to 100 ft  waters               crustaceans
perch
        California, Mexico
        including Guadalupe
        Island

        Vancouver Island,    surface   several habitats in    17.5 in  hard-shelled
pile
        British Columbia,    to 240 ft  coastal waters, bays        mollusks,
perch
        Canada (unconfirmed          and estuaries: piers        crabs,
                           and other underwater        barnacles, and
        record - southeastern
        Alaska) to central          structures, rocky          other
        Baja California,           shores, and kelp beds        crustaceans
        Mexico including
        Guadalupe Island
        Cape Vizcaino      30 to    over soft bottoms;    8 in   small
pink
        (Mendocino County)    750 ft    usually found in          crustaceans,
seaperch
        to central Baja            deeper water than          snails,
        California, Mexico,          other surfperches          polychaete
        with an isolated           (upper to mid-shelf)        worms, and
        population in the Gulf                          brittlestars
        of California
        Cape Mendocino      surface   usually over rocky    12 in   small
rainbow
        (Humboldt County) to   to 130 ft  substrate, often at the       crustaceans,
seaperch
        central Baja             edge of kelp beds and        snails, and
        California, Mexico          in kelp beds            polychaete
                                             worms
        Vancouver Island,    surface   sandy beaches on the   16 in   worms, fishes,
redtail
        British Columbia,    to 60 ft   open coast;             crabs and
surfperch
        Canada to Avila            sometimes rocky           other small
        Beach (San Luis            shores and jetties, and       crustaceans
        Obispo County)            estuaries and bays
        Tomales Bay (Marin    intertidal  shallow rocky areas    7.1 in  algae and
reef
        County) to northern   to 20 ft   including tidepools         small
perch
        Baja California,                             invertebrates
        Mexico
        Russian Gulch State   surface   several habitats     19.6 in  small
rubberlip
        Beach (Mendocino     to 150 ft  including rocky areas,       crustaceans,
seaperch
        County) to central          kelp beds, near piers        mollusks, and
        Baja California,           and jetties             polychaete
        Mexico, including                             worms
        Guadalupe Island
        central Oregon to    surface   kelp beds and inshore   11.5 in  small
sharpnose
        central Baja       to 750 ft  and offshore reefs;         crustaceans,
seaperch
        California, Mexico          and around piers          bryozoans, and
                           when spawning            kelp




                                                13-9
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 13.3. Summary of biological information for marine surfperch species in California
Species    Range         Depth   Main habitat      Maximum Foods
                                   size
        southeastern Alaska   surface   common in bays and    7 in   small
shiner
        to northern Baja     to 480 ft  estuaries and in          crustaceans,
perch
        California, Mexico          protected areas along        algae,
                          the open coast;           polychaete
                          inhabits several          worms, snails
                          habitats including         and mussels
                          eelgrass beds and
                          piers
        Vancouver Island,    surface   in the surf zone of    10.5 in  small
silver
        British Columbia,    to 360 ft  sandy beaches, over         crustaceans
surfperch
        Canada to northern          sandy areas, and          and algae
        Baja California,           around rocks and
        Mexico                piers
        central Oregon to    surface   in the surf zone of    7.8 in  young squid,
spotfin
        central Baja       to 300 ft  sandy beaches and          polychaete
surfperch
        California, Mexico          over sand              worms, small
                                            crustaceans,
                                            algae and fish
                                            eggs
        southeastern Alaska   surface   mostly coastal kelp    15.3 in  small
striped
        to central Baja     to 95 ft  beds and rocky areas,        crustaceans,
seaperch
        California, Mexico          but also in bays and        algae,
                          estuaries              polychaete
                                            worms, fish
                                            eggs,
                                            bryozoans,
                                            mussels and
                                            snails
        Vancouver Island,    surface   several habitats     12 in   small
walleye
        British Columbia,    to 60 ft  including sandy           crustaceans,
surfperch
        Canada to central          beaches, piers, jetties       polychaete
        Baja California,           and kelp beds            worms, and
        Mexico including                             snails
        Guadalupe Island

        Vancouver Island,    surface   several habitats     12.4 in  small
white
        British Columbia,    to 140 ft  including near piers        crustaceans
seaperch
        Canada to central          and jetties, in deeper       and polychaete
        Baja California,           waters of bays and         worms
        Mexico                estuaries, and
                          offshore near rocks



Status of the Populations
    No estimates exist for the size of surfperch populations in California coastal
waters. However, both fishery-dependent (catch, landings, and effort) and fishery-
independent data suggest that populations of surfperches may be declining in
California.


                                                13-10
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
    •  The total commercial landings of surfperches show a long-term decline:
      annual commercial landing averaged 173,000 pounds during the 1970s and
      1980s, but only 95,000 pounds during the 1990s. This represents a 45%
      decline in landings.
    •  The total commercial landings of surfperches declined precipitously from
      1983 through 2001 (Table 13.4). Landings for 2001 are only 12% of the 1982
      landings.
    •  Estimates of the recreational catch in central and northern California show a
      long-term decline: the annual average surfperch catch was 1,254,000 fish
      per year from 1958 through 1961, 831,000 fish per year from 1981 through
      1989, and 524,000 fish per year from 1993 through 2001.
    •  The recreational catch of most species decreased, both in terms of average
      annual catch and catch-per-unit-of-effort, between the periods of 1981-1989
      and 1993-2001 (Table 13.1).
    •  Since the mid-1980s, the abundance of surfperch species commonly caught
      in DFG trawl surveys in San Francisco has declined.

    Fishery-dependent measures, such as catch, are not definitive measures of
population abundance. The declines in recreational catch and commercial landings
may be due to factors such as reduced fishing effort rather than a decline in the size of
surfperch populations. However, catch-per-unit-of-effort can be indicative of declining
populations (if catch rates are proportional to abundance). The catch-per-unit-of-effort
(measured as average catch per 1000 angler hours) declined for most species in the
recreational fishery.
    Various life-history traits of surfperches make them susceptible to overfishing and
vulnerable to habitat loss and degradation in estuaries and marine nearshore areas.
Surfperches produce few young and are relatively short-lived, which makes it difficult for
populations to rebound. Some species aggregate to mate and many species use bays
and estuaries as birthing areas and nurseries.

Management Considerations
    Surfperches are important commercial and recreational fishes. Most of the
California coastal species are taken in the recreational fishery and the majority of the
catch is taken when spawning aggregations are present. Female surfperches are
intentionally targeted by recreational anglers because they are larger than males.
Recreational anglers also grade their catch (discard smaller fish when larger ones are
caught), which probably results in an even greater take of mature females with a
resulting decline in the fishery. Recent research has indicated that some of the decline
in surfperch populations is associated with increases in water temperature. The redtail
and barred surfperches are the most notable in the commercial catch and may be
important to local economies.
    Human use of surfperch habitats will continue to negatively impact these
populations, and cause conflict regarding the appropriate use of nearshore areas. As
shoreline development increases, areas inhabited by surfperches may become polluted
or destroyed. Although surfperches may adapt to structures such as jetties and piers, it


                                          13-11
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
seems clear that they cannot be expected to successfully adapt to all the human-
induced changes to which they are exposed.
    In 2002, the regulations governing the recreational fishery were changed in an
effort to reduce the recreational harvest to a sustainable level. In addition, the State
Legislature gave the Fish and Game Commission authority to adopt regulations to
manage the commercial surfperch fishery beginning in 2003.


                                Connie Ryan and Patrick Collier
                            California Department of Fish and Game

                                    Ronald A. Fritzsche
                       Glenn Harkleroad, Phil D. Lam, Scott Kennedy,
                         Tom Cady, David Slama, and Mike Farmer
                                  Humboldt State University

                                       Revised January 2003


Further Reading
Fritzsche, RA and TJ Hassler. 1989. Species profiles: life histories and environmental requirements of
   coastal fishes and invertebrates (Pacific Southwest) - pile perch, striped seaperch, and rubberlip
   seaperch. U.S. Fish Wildl. Serv. Biol. Rep. 82(11.103) U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, TR EL-82-
   4.15pp.
Holbrook, Sally J, Russel J. Schmitt, and John S. Stephens, Jr. 1997. Changes in an assemblage of
   temperate reef fishes associated with a climate shift. Ecological Applications. 7 (4), pp 1299-1310.
Karpov, KA, DP Albin and WH Van Buskirk. 1995. The marine recreational fishery in northern and
   central California. Calif. Fish and Game Bull.176:192pp.
Tarp, FH 1952. A revision of the family Embiotocidae (the surfperches). Calif. Fish and Game Fish Bull.
   88:1-99.




                                                13-12
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 13.4. Commercial landings (pounds) of surfperches from 1916-2001
Year   Pounds    Year   Pounds   Year  Pounds   Year   Pounds   Year   Pounds
     221,186        214,511      242,354       202,513       182,082
1916         1933        1950        1967        1984
     252,503        192,596      237,331       168,040       124,080
1917         1934        1951        1968        1985
     203,420        241,525      213,357       156,528       124,858
1918         1935        1952        1969        1986
     192,481        207,280      281,998       241,409       145,566
1919         1936        1953        1970        1987
     186,381        210,309      118,499       184,938       107,071
1920         1937        1954        1971        1988
     253,199        155,815      136,554       272,913       118,201
1921         1938        1955        1972        1989
     243,776        139,394      187,681       138,000       137,648
1922         1939        1956        1973        1990
     359,682        57,977      245,699       148,086       104,746
1923         1940        1957        1974        1991
     305,726        25,832      189,679       113,757       129,662
1924         1941        1958        1975        1992
     272,351        58,018      212,853       142,037       111,261
1925         1942        1959        1976        1993
     208,910        113,018      164,273       110,233       93,672
1926         1943        1960        1977        1994
     262,893        146,546      118,245       174,064       89,643
1927         1944        1961        1978        1995
     236,974        217,486      165,115       201,160       85,279
1928         1945        1962        1979        1996
     311,194        192,430      172,884       162,952       76,512
1929         1946        1963        1980        1997
     267,972        289,182      133,115       182,675       73,731
1930         1947        1964        1981        1998
     223,092        302,087      187,736       367,704       49,396
1931         1948        1965        1982        1999
     207,222        326,336      160,381       211,556       56,235
1932         1949        1966        1983        2000
                                              43,225
                                         2001
1. Data sources: California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Catch Bulletins (1916-1983) and DFG
commercial landing receipt database (1984-2001).
2. Landings are the sum of all species of surfperch landed.




                                              13-13
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 13.5. Estimated recreational catch (pounds) of surfperches by fishing mode, 1980-2001

                              Commercial
      Man-made    Beach and            passenger     Private or
Year                    Shore                        Total
                             fishing vessels
      structures    bank                      rental boats
                               (CPFV)
       1,124,270     958,401     ------       8,913     200,246   2,291,830
1980
        220,218     761,655     ------       2,780     187,469   1,172,122
1981
        152,845     636,565     ------        585      91,705    881,700
1982
        203,866     550,553     ------       4,041      67,365    825,825
1983
        172,904     393,711     ------       1,281     114,282    682,177
1984
        125,020     416,801     ------        842      76,763    619,425
1985
         ------     ------  1,268,683        2,083     244,721   1,515,486
1986
         ------     ------   342,530        3,223      68,752    414,505
1987
         ------     ------   558,522         625      73,233    632,380
1988
         ------     ------   355,749         794      43,241    399,785
1989
         ------     ------    ------       ------      ------    ------
1990
         ------     ------    ------       ------      ------    ------
1991
         ------     ------    ------       ------      ------    ------
1992
        91,495     536,936     ------       2,049      73,198    703,678
1993
        61,193     302,025     ------        815      56,501    420,534
1994
        94,596     436,534     ------       1,732      86,308    619,169
1995
        124,499     429,036     ------       1,838      96,446    651,818
1996
        150,625     384,218     ------       1,789      33,062    569,694
1997
        104,979     695,122     ------        777      44,268    845,144
1998
        96,372     186,497     ------       2,115      36,984    321,969
1999
        40,203     151,907     ------        585      30,868    223,563
2000
        82,634     119,959     ------       2,121      54,412    259,126
2001
------ Estimates not available.
1. Data source: MRFSS; data obtained from the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission
website.
2. No estimates are available from 1990 through 1992 or for January and February of 1995.
Estimates for 2001 are preliminary. Northern California commercial passenger fishing vessels were
not fully sampled because of refusals.
3. Catch estimates do not include fish that were caught and released alive; they only include fish that
were harvested.
4. From 1986 to 1989, individual catch estimates were not made for the man-made structures mode
or the beach and bank mode. Instead, a single estimate was made for these shore modes.




                                                   13-14
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 13.6. Estimated recreational catch (number of fish) of surfperches by fishing mode,
1980-2001

                              Commercial
      Man-made    Beach and            passenger     Private or
Year                    Shore                        Total
                             fishing vessels
      structures    bank                      rental boats
                               (CPFV)
       1,618,704    1,498,566     ------       7,378     274,835   3,399,483
1980
        619,572    1,358,110     ------       2,825     286,755   2,267,262
1981
        565,759    1,141,467     ------       9,314     214,000   1,930,540
1982
        588,267     903,514     ------       5,823     126,884   1,624,488
1983
        475,961     677,281     ------       1,463     138,185   1,292,890
1984
        390,128     838,492     ------       2,425      87,417   1,318,463
1985
         ------     ------  1,662,897        4,192     228,975   1,896,064
1986
         ------     ------   848,870        4,206     108,276    961,353
1987
         ------     ------  1,286,099        1,939     144,926   1,432,964
1988
         ------     ------   803,015        1,784     139,980    944,779
1989
         ------     ------    ------       ------      ------    ------
1990
         ------     ------    ------       ------      ------    ------
1991
         ------     ------    ------       ------      ------    ------
1992
        364,576     784,474     ------       5,474      95,348   1,249,872
1993
        209,213     488,242     ------       1,235      50,859    749,549
1994
        323,988     703,923     ------       1,846     131,173   1,160,929
1995
        389,290     565,150     ------       2,749     105,058   1,062,247
1996
        361,776     554,633     ------       2,557      36,569    955,534
1997
        258,331     824,470     ------       1,442      54,461   1,138,705
1998
        205,260     259,718     ------       4,019      37,244    506,242
1999
        134,023     230,819     ------       1,367      42,697    408,906
2000
        404,646     197,774     ------       3,798      66,444    672,662
2001
------ Estimates not available.
1. Data source: the MRFSS; data obtained from the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission
website.
2. No estimates are available from 1990 through 1992 or for January and February of 1995.
Estimates for 2001 are preliminary. Northern California commercial passenger fishing vessels were
not fully sampled because of refusals.
3. Catch estimates do not include fish that were caught and released alive; they only include fish that
were harvested.
4. From 1986 to 1989, individual catch estimates were not made for the man-made structures mode
or the beach and bank mode. Instead, a single estimate was made for these shore modes.




                                                   13-15
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
                           14. CALIFORNIA HALIBUT

Overview of the Fishery

Commercial Halibut Fishery
    California halibut, Paralichthys californicus, is an important flatfish species in both
the commercial and recreational fisheries of central and southern California. The
highest recorded commercial landing of halibut was 4.7 million lb in 1919, which was
followed by a decline to 950,000 lb in 1932 (Figure 14.1 and Table 14.1). Since 1932,
an average of 913,000 lb has been landed annually with five notable peaks in landings:
1936 (1.6 million lb), 1946 (2.5 million lb), 1964 (1.3 million lb), 1981 (1.3 million lb), and
1997 (1.3 million lb).
    The decline in commercial California halibut landings after 1919 is attributed to
increased fishing pressure during World War I and to subsequent overfishing. Fishing
restraints during World War II may have allowed halibut stocks to increase, resulting in
peak landings in the late 1940s, followed by low catches in the 1950s. Warm waters
during El Niño years in the late 1950s were followed by increased landings through the
mid-1960s. Thereafter, annual landings decreased again to a historical low of 257,000
lb in 1970; after 1970 landings gradually increased. Since 1980, landings have
averaged a little more than 1 million lb annually.


                     Commercial Landings of California Halibut, 1916-2001
  millions of pounds landed




                5

                4

                3

                2

                1

                0
                1910  1920  1930  1940  1950  1960  1970   1980   1990  2000

                       From Mexican Waters    Total Landings in California

Figure 14.1. Annual commercial landings (pounds) of California halibut from 1916 to 2001. Data sources
are the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Catch Bulletins (1916-1983) and the DFG
commercial landing receipt database (1984-2001).

    Although California halibut range from the Quillayute River, Washington to
Almejas Bay, Baja California, Mexico, the commercial fishery is mostly concentrated
from Bodega Bay in northern California to San Diego in southern California. The
contribution of halibut from Mexican waters to California landings has varied but has
generally been insignificant since 1967 (Figure 14.1 and Table 14.1). Historically, the
fishery has been centered off southern California and Baja California, Mexico, but over
the past twenty years, the greatest landings have oscillated between ports in southern

                                                        14-1
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
and central California. A majority of the halibut landings made in central California
occurred in the San Francisco area. A limited amount of fishing occurs around the
Channel Islands of southern California, which yields substantially larger halibut (average
length 27 in.) than those caught in the nearshore mainland fishery (average length 24
in.).
     Historically, California halibut have been commercially harvested by three
principal gears: otter trawl, entangling nets (set gill net and set trammel net), and hook-
and-line. The halibut trawl fishery evolved late in the nineteenth century in the San
Francisco Bay area. Since then, the boats used to tow this gear across the ocean
bottom have gone from sail-powered to steam-powered, to gasoline-powered, and
finally to diesel-powered engines. Today, trawling for California halibut is permitted in
federal waters (3 to 200 nautical miles (nm) offshore) using trawl nets with a minimum
mesh size of 4.5 in. Trawling is prohibited within State waters (0 to 3 nm offshore),
except in the designated "California halibut trawl grounds," which encompass the area
between Point Arguello (Santa Barbara County) and Point Mugu (Ventura County) in
waters beyond 1 nm from shore. Bottom trawls used in this area must have a minimum
mesh size of 7.5 in., and trawling is closed from March 15 to June 15 to protect
spawning adults.
     A decade after the introduction of the trawl fishery to San Francisco Bay, set gill
nets and trammel nets were used to fish for halibut coast-wide. Currently, the mesh
size must be at least 8.5 in. to harvest California halibut. In southern California, gill and
trammel nets are prohibited in State waters from Point Arguello to the U.S.-Mexico
border, and in waters less than 70 fathoms (fm) or within 1 nm, whichever is less,
around the Channel Islands.
     North of Point Arguello, set gill nets and set trammel nets have been subject to
many different area, depth, and seasonal closures over time. Beginning in September
2000, a series of closures were enacted to protect marine birds and mammals. Two
emergency closures prohibited the use of gill and trammel nets in waters less than 60
fm between Point Reyes (Marin County) and Yankee Point (Monterey County), and
between Point Sal (Santa Barbara County) and Point Arguello, then a third emergency
closure prohibited use of the gear in waters less than 60 fm between Point Reyes and
Point Arguello. Finally, in September 2002, the area covered by the third emergency
closure was permanently closed.
     Historically, commercial catches of California halibut by hook-and-line gear have
been insignificant when compared to the total pounds landed annually by trawl and set
net fisheries. However, over the last decade, hook-and-line catches of halibut have
ranged from 11% to 23% of annual commercial landings, with the majority of those
landings made in the San Francisco area.
     Commercial fishing laws prohibit the sale of California halibut less than 22 in.
long, unless the weight is at least 4 lb whole, 3.5 lb dressed with the head on, or 3 lb
dressed with the head off. Four halibut less than the legal minimum size may be
retained for personal use if taken incidentally with a gill, trammel or trawl net.




                                           14-2
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Recreational Halibut Fishery
    California halibut are highly prized by recreational anglers and are primarily
caught using hook-and-line. While California halibut can be caught from the shore,
most are caught from boats.
    The Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS), which has been
conducted from 1980 to 1989 and 1993 to the present, estimates the recreational catch
from shore, private or rental boats, and commercial passenger fishing vessels (CPFVs).
The MRFSS estimates both the number and pounds of fish caught (Figure 14.2, Table
14.2 and Table 14.3). In the last two decades, about 90% of the recreational catch has
been from boats, with most of that catch (77% to 79%) from private or rental boats
(Table 14.2 and Table 14.3).


                 Estimated Recreational Catch of California Halibut, 1980-2001

             2,500
  thousands of pounds




             2,000

             1,500

             1,000

             500

              0
              1980       1985       1990      1995       2000

Figure 14.2. Estimated recreational catch (pounds) of California halibut from 1980 to 1989 and 1993 to
2001. Catch estimates do not include fish that were caught and released alive. Data source is the
Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS).

    The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) did not keep records of
recreational landings until 1936, when CPFV operators were required to submit
logbooks reporting catches. No data were collected during World War II from 1941 to
1945. Although the CPFV catch was reported in pounds between 1936 and 1946, it
was reported in pounds and number of fish in 1947, and only in number of fish after
1947 (Figure 14.3 and Table 14.4).
    From 1947 through 1974, the catches reported by CPFV operators displayed
trends similar to the commercial landings (Figure 14.3 and Table 14.4), with peaks in
1948 (143,000 halibut) and 1964 (141,000 halibut). While the commercial catch
increased in the late 1970s and steadied in the 1980s, the CPFV catch remained low
and variable with an average annual catch of 8,300 fish from 1971 to 1989. The CPFV
catch rose to a 26-year high of 19,300 fish in 1995, and has averaged about 16,300 fish
per year from 1995 to 2001. The CPFV catch, of course, represents only one
component of the recreational fishery.




                                                  14-3
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
                   Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel Landings
                      of California Halibut, 1947-2001
  thousands of fish landed



               200

               150

               100

               50

                0
                1940  1950   1960    1970   1980    1990  2000

Figure 14.3. Recreational commercial passenger fishing vessel (CPFV) landings (number of fish) as
reported on CPFV Logbooks for California halibut from 1947 to 2001. Data sources are California
Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Catch Bulletins (1947-1978) and DFG Annual Reports of Statewide
Fish Landings By The Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels (CPFV) Fleet (1979-2001).

    More recently, the MRFSS estimated that the annual recreational catch of
California halibut ranged from 268,700 to 2.3 million lb between 1980 and 2001 for both
shore and boat fishing; there are no catch estimates for 1990 to 1992 (Figure 14.2 and
Table 14.3). The MRFSS also estimated that recreational anglers have taken, on
average, 976,000 lb of halibut annually since 1980 (excluding 1990 to 1992), slightly
below the average annual figure reported for the commercial component of the fishery
for the same period.
    Recreational regulations require a minimum size limit of 22 in., in addition to a
daily bag limit of five California halibut per day when fishing south of Point Sur
(Monterey County), and only three California halibut per day when fishing north of Point
Sur. South of Point Arena (Mendocino County) fillets must be a minimum of 16.75 in.
long and bear the entire skin intact. In the recreational fishery, halibut can be taken by
hand, or by using hook-and-line or spear-fishing gear.

Status of Biological Knowledge
    Adult California halibut inhabit soft-bottom habitats in coastal waters generally
less than 300 ft deep, with greatest abundance at depths of less than 100 ft. Adults
spawn throughout the year with peak spawning in winter and spring. Free-drifting eggs
and larvae have been found over the continental shelf, with greatest densities in water
less than 250 ft deep and within 4 mi of shore. Halibut larvae appear to move inshore
as they begin to change from larval to adult form. Early larval stages (about 0.1 to 0.3
in.) occur in midwater more than 1 mi offshore, whereas transforming larvae occur
within 0.6 mi of shore and occupy the surface zone at night and the bottom during the
day. Halibut have a relatively short free-drifting larval stage (less than 30 days),
transforming and settling to the bottom at a small size (about 0.3 to 0.5 in.). Newly-
settled and larger juvenile halibut are frequently taken in un-vegetated shallow-water
embayments and infrequently on the open coast, suggesting that embayments are


                                             14-4
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
important nursery habitats. However, settlement either in bays or along the open coast
varies yearly and may reflect variability in nearshore currents which influence the
onshore transport of larvae. The advantages of bays as nursery areas probably include
a decrease in the risk of mortality of newly-settled juveniles and an increase in the
growth rate of larger juveniles that feed upon the abundant small fishes in the bays.
Juveniles emigrate from the bays to the coast at about one year of age and 6.9 to 8.7 in.
in length.
    The DFG has conducted extensive tag-and-release studies on California halibut
over the past four decades. Tagging effort has ranged geographically from Sebastian
Vizcaino Bay, Baja California, Mexico north to Tomales Bay, California (Marin County),
although the primary effort has been centered between Oceanside (San Diego County)
and Point Conception (Santa Barbara County) in southern California. Results showed
that halibut do not tend to move extensively. Most sub-legal (less than 22 in.) halibut
were recaptured within 2 mi of their release sites, while larger halibut appear to travel
greater distances. The average distance traveled by halibut during the study was 8 mi.
The results also indicate that halibut movement is parallel to the coastline, with
significantly greater northward movements than southward movements. Tagged halibut
recaptures south of the international boundary with Mexico may not have been reported,
limiting our knowledge of southward movements.
    California halibut may live to 30 years and reach 60 in. long. The maximum
recorded weight is 72 lb. Male halibut mature at 2 to 3 years and 8 to 9 in., whereas
females mature at 4 to 5 years and 15 to 17 in. Female halibut attain larger sizes at a
given age than males and represent a greater fraction of the commercial landings (60%
to 80%). Female halibut reach legal size (22 in.) at 5 to 6 years of age, about 1 year
before males.
    California halibut are ambush predators. Small juvenile halibut in bays primarily
eat crustaceans, including copepods and amphipods, until they reach about 2.5 in. At
2.5 in., they are large enough to eat fish such as the gobies that are commonly found in
bays. The percentage of fish in juvenile halibut diets increases as the halibut grows.
On the coast, adult halibut feed primarily on Pacific sardine, northern anchovy, squid,
and other nearshore fish species that swim in the water column.

Status of the Population
    Abundance of larval California halibut in plankton surveys is correlated with
commercial landings of halibut. This species appears to have a cycle of abundance
approximately 20 years in length. However, the size of the halibut population may be
limited by the amount of available nursery habitat, as juvenile halibut appear to be
dependent on shallow water embayments as nursery areas. The overall decline in
halibut landings corresponds to a decline in shallow water habitats in southern
California associated with dredging and filling of bays and wetlands.
    Recreational and commercial fishermen have held conflicting views of how to
best utilize and preserve the halibut resource in southern California. In 1988, a
differential minimum size limit of 22 in. for the recreational fishery and 26 in. for the
commercial fishery was investigated as a possible management tool. This strategy
would allow recreational anglers to harvest halibut between 22 and 26 in. long before
fish had grown large enough to recruit to the commercial fishery. Yield-per-recruit (Y/R)

                                         14-5
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
analysis (that is, an analysis of how size limits, and natural and fishing mortality will
affect production or yield) indicated that:

    •  Differential size limits would provide an increased Y/R for the recreational
      fishery, whereas the commercial fishery would experience a loss
    •  Overall fishing effort was about twice the optimum level
    •  Y/R would probably increase with decreased fishing effort

The Y/R analysis indicated that allocation conflicts between the recreational and
commercial components of the halibut fishery are not likely to be resolved by a
management strategy that increases the minimum commercial size limit.
    A virtual population analysis (a mathematical modeling technique used to
estimate the number of fish in and the weight of each year-class of fish) conducted in
the late 1980s estimated that the total biomass (total weight) of California halibut in
California was 5.7 to 13.2 million lb, with annual recruitment of fish at 1 year of age
estimated to be between 450,000 and 1 million fish. The number of juvenile halibut
emigrating from southern California bays to the open coast (at 1 year of age) estimated
from beam trawl surveys ranged between 250,000 and 400,000 in the late 1980s.
    In the early 1990s, a swept-area trawl survey was conducted by DFG to better
understand California halibut population dynamics. This fishery-independent survey
produced a preliminary biomass (total weight) and population estimate (number of fish)
for halibut in southern and central California. The survey results indicated a halibut
biomass of 6.9 million lb for southern California and 2.3 million lb for central California,
while the population estimate was 3.9 million halibut for southern California and 700,000
halibut for central California.

Management Considerations
    California halibut is an ecologically and economically important nearshore finfish
species that supports both commercial and recreational fisheries. Over the past century
abundance appears to have been cyclic, which may be due to a number of fishery-
dependent and fishery-independent factors. However, protection of bay and estuarine
habitats, upon which juvenile halibut depend, is important to insure the health of this
resource. California has lost more than 80% of its estuarine habitats over the past
century. Management actions that should be considered include:

    •  Maintaining the current California halibut commercial and recreational
      regulations.
    •  Protecting nursery grounds of California halibut by prohibiting modifications to
      southern California embayments and estuaries unless mitigating actions are
      taken.
    •  Prohibiting dredging operations in embayments and estuaries during periods
      of peak abundance (March-May) of larval and newly-settled California halibut
      in southern California.




                                            14-6
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
                                        Stephen P. Wertz
                             California Department of Fish and Game

                                       Sharon H. Kramer
                               MBC Applied Environmental Sciences

                                         John S. Sunada
                             California Department of Fish and Game

                                           Revised May 2002


Further Reading
Allen, LG. 1988. Recruitment, distribution, and feeding habits of young-of-the-year California halibut
  (Paralichthys californicus) in the vicinity of Alamitos Bay-Long Beach Harbor, California, 1983-1985.
  Bull. Southern Calif. Acad. Sci. 87:19-30.
Haugen CW (editor). 1990. The California halibut, Paralichthys californicus, resource and fisheries. Calif.
  Dept. Fish Game, Fish Bull. 174.
Domeier, ML and CSY Chun. 1995. A tagging study of the California halibut, Paralichthys californicus.
  California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations Reports 36:204-207.
Kramer SH. 1990. Habitat specificity and ontogenetic movements of juvenile California halibut,
  Paralichthys californicus, and other flatfishes in shallow waters of southern California. Ph.D. thesis,
  Univ. Calif. San Diego, 266 p.
Reed RR and AD MacCall. 1988. Changing the size limit: How it could affect California halibut fisheries.
  Calif. Coop. Oceanic Fish. Invest. Rep. 29:158-166.
Valle CF, JW O’Brian, KB Wiese. 1999. Differential habitat used by California halibut (Paralichthys
  californicus), barred sand bass (Paralabrax nebulifer), and other juvenile fishes in Alamitos Bay,
  California. Fishery Bulletin, U.S. 97(3).
Wertz SP and ML Domeier. 1997. Relative importance of prey items to California halibut. California Fish
  and Game 83(1):21-29.




                                                  14-7
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 14.1. Commercial landings (pounds) of California halibut, 1916-2001
          From      From       Total          From     From       Total
Year                            Year
       California    Mexican    California        California   Mexican    California
         waters     waters     landings          waters    waters     landings
       1,500,000    2,500,000    4,052,173          345,286     8,956     354,242
1916 1                           1959
       3,500,000     800,000    4,379,312          366,191    10,072     376,263
1917 1                           1960
       2,708,514    1,915,704    4,624,218          545,472    109,082     654,554
1918                            1961
       2,362,520    2,335,603    4,698,123          776,077    87,009     863,086
1919                            1962
       2,602,043    1,677,539    4,279,582          855,092    265,277    1,120,369
1920                            1963
       2,340,428    1,313,433    3,653,861         1,092,068    184,037    1,276,105
1921                            1964
       2,437,966     816,539    3,254,505         1,128,348    115,370    1,243,718
1922                            1965
       1,347,243     882,138    2,229,381          749,555    261,857    1,011,412
1923                            1966
       1,528,399    1,048,483    2,576,882          824,919    13,139     838,058
1924                            1967
       1,352,248    1,100,303    2,452,551          659,425    12,229     671,654
1925                            1968
        916,794     432,237    1,349,031          272,331     1,946     274,277
1926                            1969
        818,517     485,042    1,303,559          256,898      546     257,444
1927                            1970
        932,289     255,362    1,187,651          336,416      455     336,871
1928                            1971
        811,427     291,146    1,102,573          309,003      242     309,245
1929                            1972
        896,062     201,698    1,097,760          272,466     1,060     273,526
1930                            1973
        929,306      40,467     969,773          306,290      189     306,479
1931                            1974
        939,001      10,701     949,702          507,785     1,128     508,913
1932                            1975
        904,829      84,820     989,649          627,574      796     628,400
1933                            1976
        648,516     388,492    1,037,008          463,760     4,102     467,862
1934                            1977
        810,291     765,572    1,575,863          432,884     8,244     441,440
1935                            1978
        776,634     806,273    1,582,907          658,892     6,399     665,546
1936                            1979
        812,365     394,870    1,207,235          724,590     2,120     726,852
1937                            1980
        822,447     255,782    1,078,229         1,259,029     3,236    1,262,265
1938                            1981
        722,084     269,537     991,621         1,211,232     1,324    1,214,375
1939                            1982
        861,908      86,549     948,457         1,130,543       38   1,130,581
1940                            1983
        592,911     113,739     706,650         1,105,273     ------   1,107,019
1941                            1984
        569,245     181,294     750,539         1,255,599      204    1,255,966
1942                            1985
        701,219     410,779    1,111,998         1,183,482      205    1,184,296
1943                            1986
       1,111,880     373,583    1,485,463         1,185,139     2,609    1,188,596
1944                            1987
       1,582,150     166,671    1,748,821         1,106,877     ------   1,107,207
1945                            1988
       1,675,280     781,907    2,457,187         1,217,868       76   1,219,321
1946                            1989
       1,172,638     615,263    1,787,901          938,572     ------    938,572
1947                            1990
       1,041,124     265,489    1,306,613         1,040,855     ------   1,040,864
1948                            1991
       1,079,501     183,013    1,262,514          885,073       57    885,130
1949                            1992
        806,279     286,466    1,092,745          725,535      980     726,525
1950                            1993
        643,279     222,654     865,933          533,917      780     535,018
1951                            1994
        473,620      51,691     525,311          770,065       94    771,628
1952                            1995
        387,739     142,576     530,315          914,034       60    914,236
1953                            1996
        444,543     216,788     661,331         1,324,987      106    1,325,175
1954                            1997
        363,834     145,968     509,802         1,187,115      351    1,187,549
1955                            1998
        382,006      73,793     455,799         1,313,286     ------   1,313,495
1956                            1999
        332,584      44,231     376,815          847,946     ------    847,949
1957                            2000
        256,075      11,371     267,446          891,475     ------    894,002
1958                            2001
------ Landings data not available.
1. Amounts caught from California and Mexican waters in 1916 and 1917 are estimates.
2. Data sources are DFG Catch Bulletins (1916-1983) and DFG commercial landing receipt database (1984-
2001).
3. A small amount of the total commercial California halibut landings are from waters north of the State or from
undesignated waters. These pounds are not reported separately in this table, but are included in the total.



                                                    14-8
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 14.2. Estimated catch (number of fish) by recreational anglers of California halibut by
fishing mode, 1980-2001
                               Commercial
      Man-made     Beach and            passenger     Private or
 Year                    Shore                        Total
                              fishing vessels
      structures     bank                       rental boats
                                (CPFV)
         17,959     2,558      ------       12,064      94,071   126,652
1980
          5,680     2,713      ------       16,765      50,127    75,286
1981
          6,519    176,969      ------       16,683      72,301   272,473
1982
          3,060     1,469      ------       6,567      33,128    44,224
1983
          3,936     2,281      ------       2,960      30,745    39,922
1984
          3,913     5,885      ------       12,436      49,782    72,016
1985
          ------     ------    8,132        11,410     106,173   125,715
1986
          ------     ------    14,857        29,017     143,255   187,130
1987
          ------     ------    23,567        18,665      63,284   105,517
1988
          ------     ------    7,784        22,949      92,516   123,249
1989
          ------     ------     ------        ------      ------    ------
1990
          ------     ------     ------        ------      ------    ------
1991
          ------     ------     ------        ------      ------    ------
1992
          2,096     1,294      ------       7,432      55,323    66,145
1993
          1,618     2,046      ------       13,833      86,072   103,569
1994
          5,806     4,100      ------       8,897     318,429   337,231
1995
          9,315      986      ------       13,645     122,975   146,921
1996
          1,740      826      ------       6,511      82,865    91,942
1997
          2,155      ------     ------       7,445      96,620   106,220
1998
           766      528      ------       17,989     110,691   129,975
1999
          1,768     5,822      ------       22,709     136,116   166,415
2000
          7,310      703      ------       18,727     165,375   192,115
2001
------ Estimates not available.
1. Data source: the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS); data obtained from the
Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission website.
2. No estimates are available from 1990 through 1992 or for January and February of 1995. Estimates
for 2001 are preliminary. Northern California CPFVs were not fully sampled because of refusals.
3. Catch estimates do not include fish that were caught and released alive; they only include fish that
were harvested.
4. From 1986 to 1989, individual catch estimates were not made for the man-made structures mode or
the beach and bank mode. Instead, a single estimate was made for these shore modes.




                                                 14-9
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 14.3. Estimated catch (pounds) by recreational anglers of California halibut by fishing
mode, 1980-2001

                               Commercial
      Man-made    Beach and             passenger     Private or
 Year                    Shore                        Total
                              fishing vessels
      structures    bank                       rental boats
                                (CPFV)
         57,447      7,487      ------      107,828      598,290    771,052
1980
         37,557     13,136      ------      114,372      338,274    503,338
1981
         16,336    1,230,207      ------      87,060      429,499   1,763,103
1982
         10,437      6,616      ------      74,502      236,326    327,882
1983
         10,506     11,330      ------      45,026      201,923    268,786
1984
         6,375     24,925      ------      95,106      451,173    577,579
1985
          ------     ------    26,263       72,251      615,017    713,531
1986
          ------     ------    39,456       155,285      810,579   1,005,321
1987
          ------     ------   169,234       98,551      463,378    731,163
1988
          ------     ------    26,650       137,716      598,175    762,540
1989
          ------     ------     ------       ------      ------    ------
1990
          ------     ------     ------       ------      ------    ------
1991
          ------     ------     ------       ------      ------    ------
1992
         5,464      6,099      ------      38,121      529,253    578,937
1993
         5,362     14,139      ------      101,669      669,912    791,083
1994
         29,039     28,642      ------      63,801     2,219,567   2,341,049
1995
         56,641      5,466      ------      109,940      984,657   1,156,703
1996
         9,720      1,824      ------      67,756      734,970    814,271
1997
         14,495      ------     ------      68,122      863,242    945,859
1998
         4,767      6,232      ------      154,201     1,133,900   1,299,099
1999
         10,351     63,032      ------      241,398     1,276,052   1,590,833
2000
         41,900      7,534      ------      162,279     1,399,452   1,611,166
2001
------ Estimates not available.
1. Data source: the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS); data obtained from the
Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission website.
2. No estimates are available from 1990 through 1992 or for January and February of 1995. Estimates
for 2001 are preliminary. Northern California CPFVs were not fully sampled because of refusals.
3. Catch estimates do not include fish that were caught and released alive; they only include fish that
were harvested.
4. From 1986 to 1989, individual catch estimates were not made for the man-made structures mode or
the beach and bank mode. Instead, a single estimate was made for these shore modes.




                                                  14-10
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Table 14.4. Recreational commercial passenger fishing vessel (CPFV) landings (number of fish)
as reported on CPFV Logbooks for California halibut, 1947-2001
       Number          Number           Number          Number
   Year            Year           Year            Year
        of fish          of fish          of fish          of fish
        104,436          108,011           9,118           9,116
   1947            1961           1975           1989
        143,462          118,966           10,075           6,658
   1948            1962           1976           1990
        104,639          125,669           6,982           5,984
   1949            1963           1977           1991
         85,935          141,465           5,409           4,341
   1950            1964           1978           1992
         59,295          118,213           6,329           5,335
   1951            1965           1979           1993
         34,158          88,726           6,517           7,549
   1952            1966           1980           1994
         34,292          63,582           11,440          19,345
   1953            1967           1981           1995
         59,674          54,663           11,804          19,092
   1954            1968           1982           1996
         35,802          27,634           5,682          15,846
   1955            1969           1983           1997
         21,661          29,968           3,209          12,191
   1956            1970           1984           1998
         10,795          10,598           7,090          14,339
   1957            1971           1985           1999
         16,192           8,140           7,848          15,865
   1958            1972           1986           2000
         25,365           9,622           7,560          20,637
   1959            1973           1987           2001
         48,310          10,292           11,501
   1960            1974           1988
------ Landings data not available.
1. Data sources: DFG Catch Bulletins (1947-1978) and DFG Annual Reports of Statewide Fish Landings
By The Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels (CPFV) Fleet (1979-2001).
2. Logbooks have been required for southern California, including fish taken in Mexican waters and
landed in California, for the entire time period reported here. Logbooks were required for central and
northern California from 1957 to present.
3. The data are number of fish reported on logbooks submitted to DFG.




                                                14-11
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
Annual Status of the Fisheries Report
                  Appendix A
  Determining the Species List for the Annual Status of the Fisheries Reports

    The Annual Status of the Fisheries Report (ASFR) editors used the list of state-
managed marine life in the MLMA Master Plan (The Master Plan: A Guide for the
Development of Fishery Management Plans, Appendix D, August 2001) as the starting
point for determining the species of marine life to include in the ASFRs. The ASFR
editors included species or groups of species that appear on the MLMA Master Plan list
for review in the ASFRs unless:

    1. The species or group is not the subject of a directed recreational or commercial
      fishery, or harvest of the species or group is relatively minor or periodic.
    2. Harvest of the species or group is prohibited.
    3. The species or group is included in a Pacific Fishery Management Council
      fishery management plan and is not the subject of a State recovery or fishery
      management plan.
    4. The group is not well defined (i.e., not a single species, or a list of a number
      of species).
    5. The species or group is primarily estuarine or freshwater, or resides primarily
      outside of state waters.

    Some species on the ASFR list are taken incidentally as bycatch or were
formerly the subject of a directed fishery; these species will be monitored and given
limited reviews. All other species on the ASFR list will receive a detailed review (full
review) every four years.

List of all marine algae, vascular plants, invertebrates, and fishes that are managed by the State of
California1

                                            Type of
                                            review4
                                     Reason(s)
                                            (review title
                                     for
                                  2
Common name           Scientific name        FMP           for reviews
                                     exclusion3
                                            covering
                                     (notes)
                                            multiple
                                            species)

ALGAE
kelp, bull                                       Full
                 Nereocystis luetkeana
kelp, giant                                       Full
                 Macrocystis pyrifera
sea palm                                        Full
                 Postelsia palmaeformis
                 Chlorophyta               1,4
                 Fucus spp.               1,4
                                     1,4
                 Gelidium
                                     1,4
                 Gigartina
                                     1,4
                 Gloiopeltis
                                     1,4
                 Gracliaria
                                     1,4
                 Laminaria
                                     1,4
                 Mastocarpus
                                     1,4
                 Mazaella (Iridaea)


Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                             A-1
List of all marine algae, vascular plants, invertebrates, and fishes that are managed by the State of
California1

                                            Type of
                                            review4
                                     Reason(s)
                                            (review title
                                     for
                                  2
Common name           Scientific name        FMP           for reviews
                                     exclusion3
                                            covering
                                     (notes)
                                            multiple
                                            species)

                                     1,4
                 Monostrema
                 Phaeophyta               1,4
                                     1,4
                 Porphyra
                                     1,4
                 Pterocladia
                                     1,4
                 Rhodoglossum
                 Rhodophyta               1,4
                                     1,4
                 Sarcodiotheca
                 Spermatophyta              1,4
VASCULAR PLANTS
eelgrass                                 2
                 Zostera marina
surfgrass            Phyllospadix spp.            2
INVERTEBRATES
                                            Full
abalone, black                         AB
                 Haliotis cracherodii
                                            (abalones)
                                            Full
abalone, flat                         AB
                 Haliotis walallensis
                                            (abalones)
                                            Full
abalone, green                         AB
                 Haliotis fulgens
                                            (abalones)
                                            Full
abalone, pink                         AB
                 Haliotis corrugata
                                            (abalones)
                                            Full
abalone, pinto                         AB
                 Haliotis kamtschatkana
                                            (abalones)
                                            Full
abalone, red                          AB
                 Haliotis rufescens
                                            (abalones)
                                     No longer
                                     considered a
                                     separate
abalone, threaded                       AB    species;
                 Haliotis assimilis
                                     synonymous
                                     with pinto
                                     abalone
                                            Full
abalone, white                         AB
                 Haliotis sorenseni
                                            (abalones)
amphipod             Amphipoda                1,4
                                     1,4
                                     (commercial
anemone             Coelenterata
                                     take
                                     prohibited)
                                     1
                                     (commercial
barnacle, acorn         Balanus nubilus, B. aquila
                                     take
                                     prohibited)




Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                            A-2
List of all marine algae, vascular plants, invertebrates, and fishes that are managed by the State of
California1

                                             Type of
                                             review4
                                     Reason(s)
                                             (review title
                                     for
                                  2
Common name           Scientific name        FMP            for reviews
                                     exclusion3
                                             covering
                                     (notes)
                                             multiple
                                             species)

                                     1
                                     (commercial
barnacle, gooseneck       Pollicipes polymerus
                                     take
                                     prohibited)
                                     1
                                     (commercial
barnacle, stalked        Pollicipes spp.
                                     take
                                     prohibited)
                                             Full
chione, banded          Chione californiensis                  (littleneck
                                             clams)
                                             Full
chione, smooth          Chione fluctifraga                   (littleneck
                                             clams)
chione, wavy                                       Full
                 Chione undatella
chiton              Polyplacophora             1,4
                                     Minor fishery
clam, butter                                       Limited
                 Saxidomus giganteus           in Humboldt
                                     Bay
clam, California jackknife                                Limited
                 Tagelus californianus
                                             Full
clam, common littleneck     Protothaca staminea                   (littleneck
                                             clams)
                                             Full
clam, common Washington     Saxidomus nuttalli                   (Washington
                                             clams)
                                             Full (gaper
clam, Pacific gaper       Tresus nuttalli
                                             clams)
                                             Full (gaper
clam, fat gaper         Tresus capax
                                             clams)
clam, geoduck                                      Full
                 Panopea genersoa
                                             Full
                 Tapes japonica, T.
clam, Japanese littleneck                                (littleneck
                 philippinarum
                                             clams)
clam, northern quahog                                  Limited
                 Mercenaria mercenaria
                                     commercial
clam, northern razor                                   Limited
                 Siliqua patula             take
                                     prohibited
                                     commercial
clam, Pismo                                       Full
                 Tivela stultorum            take
                                     prohibited
clam, rosy razor                             1
                 Solen sicarius
                                             Full (little-
clam, rough-sided littleneck   Protothaca laciniata
                                             neck clams)



Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                              A-3
List of all marine algae, vascular plants, invertebrates, and fishes that are managed by the State of
California1

                                            Type of
                                            review4
                                     Reason(s)
                                            (review title
                                     for
                                  2
Common name           Scientific name        FMP           for reviews
                                     exclusion3
                                            covering
                                     (notes)
                                            multiple
                                            species)

clam, softshell                                     Limited
                 Mya arenaria
                                            Full
clam, thin-shelled littleneck  Protothaca tenerrima                  (littleneck
                                            clams)
cockle, basket                              1
                 Clinocardium nuttallii
                                     1,4
                                     (commercial
coral              Coelenterata
                                     take
                                     prohibited)
cowrie, chestnut                             1
                 Cypraea spadicea
crab, box                                        Limited
                 Lopholithodes foraminatus
                                            Full (rock
crab, brown rock         Cancer antennarius
                                            crabs)
crab, Californa king                           1
                 Paralithodes californiensis
crab, California hermit                         1
                 Pagurus spp., Isochelis sp.
                 Cancer spp., Loxorhynchus
crab, claws                               4
                 grandis
crab, Dungeness                                     Full
                 Cancer magister
                                     1
                                     (commercial
crab, fiddler          Uca crenulata
                                     take
                                     prohibited)
crab, forknose king                           1
                 Paralithodes rathbuni
crab, king                                1
                 Paralithodes spp.
crab, pelagic red                            1
                 Pleuroncodes planipes
                                            Full (rock
crab, red rock          Cancer productus
                                            crabs)
crab, sand (mole crab)                                 Limited
                 Emerita analoga
crab, sheep                                       Full
                 Loxorhynchus grandis
crab, shore                               1
                 Pachygrapsus crassipes
crab, slender                                      Limited
                 Cancer gracilis
crab, tanner                                      Limited
                 Chionoecetes tanneri
                                     1
                                     (commercial
crab, umbrella          Cryptolithodes stichensis
                                     take
                                     prohibited)
                                            Full (rock
crab, yellow rock        Cancer anthonyi
                                            crabs)
                                            Full (sea
cucumber, California sea     Parastichopus californicus
                                            cucumbers)
cucumber, sea          Holothuroidea              4
                                            Full (sea
cucumber, warty sea       Parastichopus parvimensis
                                            cucumbers)




Annual Status of the Fisheries Report                             A-4
List of all marine algae, vascular plants, invertebrates, and fishes that are managed by the State of
California1

                                            Type of
                                            review4
                                     Reason(s)
                                            (review title
                                     for
                                  2
Common name           Scientific name         FMP          for reviews
                                     exclusion3
                                            covering
                                     (notes)
                                            multiple
                                            species)

                                     1,4
                                     (commercial
gorgonians            Gorgonacea
                                     take
                                     prohibited)
                                     1,4
                                     (commercial
invertebrate, colonial      Cnidaria, Porifera
                                     take
                                     prohibited)
                                     1,4
                                     (commercial
jellyfish            Pelagia spp.
                                     take
                                     prohibited)
                                            Full
                                     commercial
                                            (intertidal
limpet, owl           Lottia gigantea             take
                                            invert-
                                     prohibited
                                            ebrates)
limpet, unspecified       Archaeogastropoda            1,4
lobster, California spiny                                Full
                 Panulirus interruptus
mantis shrimp, blueleg                          1
                 Hemisquilla ensigera
                 Mytilus galloprovincialis, M.
mussel                                         Limited
                 trossulus, M. californianus
nudibranch, hermissenda                                 Limited
                 Hermissenda crassicornis
nudibranch, lion's mouth     Melibe leonina             1
nudibranch, shagg rug                          1
                 Aeolidia papillosa
nudibranch, spanish shawl                        1
                 Flabellinopsis iodinea
                 Octopus bimaculoides, O.
octopus, two-spot                                    Limited
                 bimaculatus
octopus, unspecified       Octopus spp.              4
ophistobranch          Ophistobranchia             1,4
oyster, unspecified       Ostreidae                1,4
polychaete            Polychaeta               1,4
prawn, golden                                      Full (prawns)
                 Penaeus californiensis
prawn, ridgeback                                    Full (prawns)
                 Sicyonia ingentis
prawn, spot                                       Full (prawns)