NOAA Fisheries will publish a final rule on November 19, 2019, implementing changes to area closures for commercial vessels fishing in Federal waters off Washington, Oregon, and California.
This final rule:
- Removes the groundfish bottom trawl Rockfish Conservation Area (trawl RCA) off of Oregon and California and replaces it with a tool called Block Area Closures (BACs);
- Changes the coastwide network of essential fish habitat conservation areas (EFHCAs);
- Establishes the Deep-water Ecosystem Conservation Area (DECA) closure (>3,500 meters).
You can view the Federal Register notice implementing these adjustments here. These adjustments are effective on January 1, 2020.
Information for Industry
The new DECA applies to vessel fishing in federal waters deeper than 3,500 meters with bottom-contacting gear, which includes bottom trawl gear, fixed gear, and pot-trap gear. The new and revised EFHCAs apply to vessel fishing groundfish or non-groundfish trawl gear in federal waters. The changes to re-open the trawl RCA applies to vessels fishing with groundfish bottom trawl gear in federal water off Oregon and California. We will share a compliance guide with a plain-language summary of all these changes before January 1, 2020.
For more information on closed areas, including closed areas that apply to non-groundfish fisheries using bottom contacting or bottom trawl gears, see our Closed Areas page here.
High resolution maps are available for download here. High resolution maps of essential fish habitat (EFH)-related information, some of which is modified by Amendment 28, is also available on the EFH GIS Data and Maps webpage.