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Depth-Based Boundary Lines on the West Coast

November 20, 2023

Several types of closed areas, including Rockfish Conservation Areas, or RCAs, and Block Area Closures, or BACs, are closed areas that are at least partially defined by depth-based boundary lines. Depth-based boundaries are lines that connect a series of latitude and longitude coordinates and are intended to approximate particular depth contours. These boundary lines are typically defined coast-wide and around islands, with a few exceptions, but may be used to define a closed area off just a part of the coast.

NOAA Fisheries has formatted the worksheets in this WinZip file so that the data may be more easily used in mapping software. Coordinates delineating the depth-based boundaries are given in CSV format (comma-delimited ASCII text format). CSV format presents data in a basic format, allowing for easier transitions to different software. CSV files can be opened with Microsoft Excel or imported into a text file. CSV files do not allow for multiple worksheets within a single file; therefore, each boundary line has its own separate file. All of the coordinates can be easily downloaded and extracted using WinZip.

Each boundary line has its own separate CSV file. File names are standardized, giving first the name of the fathom contour followed by the date it was made effective. “40fm010107” is a file that contains the coastwide coordinates that define the boundary line approximating the 40 fathom depth contour, effective January 1, 2007. Changes to boundary lines since 2007 will have a later effective date; i.e., “150fm010113”. This file name indicates that the 150 fathom depth contour changed, effective January 1, 2013.

Each file contains all of the latitude and longitude coordinates representing a particular boundary line for all or a portion of the Washington, Oregon, and California coasts. For example, the "60 fm" worksheet provides the boundary line approximating the 60 fm contour along the length of the West Coast, and include the boundary lines approximating the 60 fm contours around the Channel Islands.

To find boundaries for specific sections of the coast, open the correct file and scroll through the coordinates until the appropriate section of the coast is reached.

*Separate files are provided for the lines at 150 fm, 180 fm, 200 fm, and 250 fm that include open areas for petrale sole fishing, or “petrale-modified” lines.

Any discrepancies between the CSV coordinate files provided here and the coordinates published in the Federal Register will be resolved in favor of the Federal Register.

Worksheet Column Header Key

  • id_area = unique identifying number for a particular coordinate within a particular line
  • area_name = identifying name for a particular line at a particular depth contour, primarily distinguishes between coastwide lines and lines around islands
  • lat_deg = degrees latitude for a particular coordinate
  • lat_min = decimal minutes for a particular coordinate, associated with the degrees latitude for that coordinate
  • lat_dir = latitude direction (N = North)
  • lon_deg = degrees longitude for a particular coordinate
  • lon_min = decimal minutes for a particular coordinate, associated with the degrees longitude for that coordinate
  • lon_dir = longitude direction (W = West)
  • lat_dd = latitude for a particular coordinate, given in decimal degrees
  • lon_dd = longitude for a particular coordinate, given in decimal degrees

Last updated by West Coast Regional Office on 04/29/2024