California Halibut Bottom Trawl Fishery - MMPA List of Fisheries
U.S. fisheries are classified under the Marine Mammal Protection Act according to the level of interactions that result in incidental mortality or serious injury of marine mammals.
Current Classification on the List of Fisheries
|Estimated Number of Participants||23|
|Target Species||California halibut|
|Applicable Take Reduction Plans||N/A|
|Observer Coverage||Since 2013, observer coverage of vessels that also participate in the Limited Entry Groundfish fishery is included in the Groundfish IFQ program. Coverage of vessels that also participate in the Open Access Groundfish fishery from 2013-2018 has been 6%, 22%, 33%, 31%, 26%, and 26%, respectively.|
|Marine Mammal Species/Stocks Killed or Injured||
California sea lion, U.S.
Harbor porpoise, unknown
Harbor seal, unknown
Northern elephant seal, CA breeding
Steller sea lion, unknown
Basis for Current Classification
Classified as a Category III fishery based on the limited documented mortality or serious injuries of marine mammals.
The Category III CA halibut bottom trawl fishery generally targets California halibut in Federal waters predominantly off central California from Point Reyes southward to Point Sal, and throughout the Southern California Bight. Very little effort occurs in northern California. While this is primarily a daytime fishery, some activity occurs at night.
The majority of effort in southern California occurs within the California Halibut Trawl Grounds (CHTG), which is limited to State of California waters from 1-3 nm (1.9-5.6 km) along the mainland shore between Port Arguello and Point Mugu. There are four sub-areas within the CHTG that are permanently closed, resulting in roughly 87 percent of the CHTG available for fishing during the allowable trawl season from June 16 to March 14, though not all of that 87 percent is fishable due to bottom debris and obstructions left from oil extraction or rocky reefs. Trawling for California halibut can be conducted year round in Federal waters, but is prohibited in State of California waters outside the CHTG.
Vessels use otter trawl gear consisting of two doors, with one door deployed on each side of the net to spread the mouth of the net open. The mouth of the net is held open vertically with floats attached to the head rope (top of the net) and weights on the footrope (bottom of the net). The majority of trawlers in southern California use a “dropped-loop” style chain that consists of chain link loops that hang from the footrope to provide weight, while decreasing the surface area that comes in contact with the bottom.
Only light touch trawl gear adhering to the following gear specifications may be used to catch California halibut in the CHTG. The gear must consist of trawl doors weighing no more than 500 pounds (226.8 kg). The headrope can only be up to 90 feet (27.4 m) in length and may consist of chain, rope, or wire. The footrope may consist of rope or wire. Any chain attached to the footrope shall not exceed ¼ inch (0.6 cm). There are no rollers or bobbins on the footrope. The webbing material itself is up to 7 mm (0.3 inches) in diameter, and the mesh size for the codend is a minimum of 7.5 inches (19.1 cm). When trawling in Federal waters, the codend net mesh size is a minimum of 4.5 inches (11.4 cm).
This is a state managed fishery requiring a limited entry non-transferable California halibut bottom trawl vessel permit and a commercial fishing license. The minimum size limit is 22 inches (55.9 cm) total length for landed California halibut. Logbook reporting is mandatory.
When targeting California halibut in Federal waters, trawlers are subject to Federal groundfish regulations such as conservation area restrictions and requirements, daily and monthly incidental trip limits for groundfish species, Federal at-sea observer coverage, and a vessel monitoring system requirements to monitor compliance with closed areas. There is no limit on the amount of catch that can be landed under a California halibut permit; however, individuals who possess a Federal groundfish trawl permit, but not a halibut trawl permit, can only land up to a 150 pounds (68.0 kg) of California halibut incidentally.
|Original Category (Year added to the LOF)||III (2007)|
|Original Number of Participants||53|
|Basis for Original Classification||Classified as a Category III based on no documented marine mammal serious injury or mortalities incidental to this fishery.|
|Species/stocks historically documented as killed or injured (but not currently on the list)||None|
Timeline of Changes