The daily bag limit for general marine fish, such as rockfish, greenlings and skates, will be reduced from five to four starting July 1, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Tuesday.
“Participation in this fishery has been really good so far this year,” said Lynn Mattes, project leader with the agency. “Reducing the bag limit is necessary to keep black rockfish, other nearshore rockfish and yelloweye rockfish catches within annual limits.”
Cabezon season also opens July 1 with a one-fish sub-bag limit, meaning that of the four-fish bag limit, only one can be a cabezon. Bag limits for lingcod, flatfish and the longleader fishery remain the same.
“These species are both state and federally managed, so federal managers have to divvy up stocks in the fairest way possible,” said West Coast Seafood Processors Association Deputy Director Susan Chambers. For example, if there are 100 metric tons of one fish species, federal managers have to decide which state on the West Coast needs how much based on the needs of their commercial and sports fishermen.
“Say California gets 60 metric tons, Washington gets 20 and Oregon gets 20, Oregon has to manage its 20 tons between sport and commercial fishermen,” Chambers explained. “If sport fishermen catch too many fish too fast, the state must reduce the bag limits, shorten the season or take other measures — never a good thing. This happened last year.”
She noted that such a strong fishing presence is good for communities, but stresses fishery management.
Anglers this year made 40,619 bottomfish trips through May — 17,750 in May alone — compared to 24,080 for January to May last year, Chambers said. Until this year, that was the highest effort year on record, and angler effort is only expected to increase as summer fishing peaks.
Last year, recreational bottomfish closed Sept. 18 — the first in-season closure since 2004 — after the annual quotas for several species were met early, Chambers said. The closure disrupted coastal charter businesses and anglers.
The Fish and Wildlife Commission heard testimony from coastal sportfishing businesses before deciding on the five-fish bag limit when it set regulations in December, with the understanding that in-season adjustments could be necessary to keep the season open through the end of the year.