Understanding Depth Limits in the Recreational Groundfish Fishery

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California Groundfish Management Areas  map by CDFW Marine Region GIS Lab

New recreational groundfish regulations went into effect in 2017, including changes to depth limits in some areas of the state. These changes provide more opportunity than before, opening areas that have been closed for many years.

With the regulation changes have come questions from the public asking for clarification regarding how depths are defined. We hope the explanation provided here will enable all California sportsmen and women to understand and follow the depth limit regulations.

Since 2002, Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCAs) have been used to close waters of certain depths to fishing for groundfish. The RCAs were established to help protect and rebuild overfished stocks, by prohibiting groundfish fishing in places where these stocks are most frequently encountered. Continue reading