Due to the uncertainties created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the unique challenges those are creating for NOAA Fisheries, we are cancelling the Northwest Fisheries Science Centers’ 2020 Southern California Shelf Rockfish Hook and Line (H&L) Survey.
This was a difficult decision for the agency as we strive to meet our core mission responsibilities while balancing the realities and impacts of the current health crisis.
Since March, we have been rigorously analyzing various options for conducting surveys this year and are taking a survey-by-survey, risk-based approach. After much deliberation, we determined that we will not be able to move forward with these surveys while effectively minimizing risk and meeting core survey objectives.
The Cancelled Survey
The H&L Survey samples 201 fixed sites each year in the Southern California Bight aboard three chartered sportfishing vessels. It is the primary source of fishery-independent data used to assess and manage multiple West Coast rockfish stocks associated with untrawlable habitats. The survey also supports ecosystem modeling and management. We will coordinate with the Pacific Fishery Management Council for any affected stock assessments and leverage the long time-series data to provide the best scientific information.
NOAA Fisheries is continuing to assess the status of other surveys in all our regions. We are working through numerous survey scenarios relative to community pandemic safeguards and safe work practices so that we maximize the science available for fisheries management in this challenging year.