West Coast Groundfish Closed Areas
On the West Coast, we have established closed areas to minimize the bycatch of overfished groundfish species or to protect groundfish habitat.
West Coast groundfish fisheries and fisheries that may take groundfish incidentally are managed with a variety of closed areas intended to either minimize the bycatch of overfished groundfish species or to protect groundfish habitat. Many of the closed areas are gear-specific, meaning they are closed to some particular gear types, but not others. We only provide information on marine areas closed to fishing by federal regulation. The states of Washington, Oregon, and California may have additional closures. Additional restrictions may also apply to activities conducted in a National Marine Sanctuary (Channel Islands, Cordell Bank, and Greater Farallon Islands).
|Commercial Trawl Closed Areas||Commercial Non-Trawl Closed Areas||Recreational Closed Areas|
|Rockfish Conservation Areas||Rockfish Conservation Areas||Rockfish Conservation Areas|
|Block Area Closures||Essential Fish Habitat Conservation Areas||Essential Fish Habitat Conservation Areas|
|Cowcod Conservation Areas||Cowcod Conservation Areas||Cowcod Conservation Areas|
|Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation Areas||Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation Areas|
|Cordell Banks Closed Area||Cordell Banks Closed Area||Cordell Banks Closed Area|
|Farallon Islands Closed Areas||Farallon Islands Closed Areas|
Rockfish Conservation Areas
Rockfish Conservation Areas, or RCAs, are depth-based closed areas. The RCA boundaries are lines that connect a series of latitude and longitude coordinates and are intended to approximate particular depth contours. RCA boundaries are different depending on what types of fishing gear are being used. RCA boundaries are likely to differ between the northern and southern areas of the coast. RCA boundaries are also likely to change seasonally, and may also be changed during the year through inseason actions. The RCA boundaries are set primarily to minimize incidental catch of overfished rockfish, by eliminating fishing in areas at locations and at times when those overfished species are likely to co-occur with more healthy target stocks of groundfish. RCAs extending along all or part of the West Coast have been in place since September 2002. Beginning on January 1, 2020, the trawl RCA is removed off Oregon and California, re-opening approximately 2,000 square miles to fishing with groundfish bottom trawl gear.
Schedule of RCA boundaries:
- Trawl (Groundfish) RCA boundaries (off Washington only) for :
- Trawl (Non-Groundfish) RCA boundaries for:
- Non-Trawl RCA boundaries (coastwide) for:
- Recreational RCA boundaries: See the West Coast Groundfish Recreational Fishery Management Measures and State Groundfish recreational websites.
Defining depth-based boundary lines:
Latitude and longitude coordinates for all of the potential depth-based lines that may form RCA and block area closure boundary lines are available in CSV format (comma-delimited ASCII text format) so that the data may be more easily used in mapping and navigation software. CSV files do not allow for multiple worksheets within a single file; therefore each RCA boundary has its own separate file. All of the RCA coordinates can be easily downloaded and extracted using WinZip. Please review the Rockfish Conservation Area Boundary Lines, then download the WinZip file, and select the desired RCA boundary by scrolling through the list.
Block Area Closures
Beginning in 2020, Block Area Closures (BACs) are areas of federal waters that may be closed to groundfish bottom trawl fishing. Areas will be bounded on the north and south by a line of latitude or the EEZ boundary, and on the east and west by boundary lines that approximate depth contours. BACs, when implemented, would have restrictions very similar to those of the trawl RCA.
BAC boundaries and duration will be published in the Federal Register and announced in a fishery bulletin.
Essential Fish Habitat Conservation Areas
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires that fishery management plans describe and identify essential fish habitat (EFH) and minimize to the extent practicable adverse effects on EFH caused by fishing. EFH is defined as habitats that are necessary to the species for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity. Some EFH that is especially important ecologically or particularly vulnerable to degradation may be further designated as “habitat areas of particular concern” (HAPC) to provide additional focus for conservation efforts.
There are three types of designations for identified areas: EFH, HAPC, and EFH Conservation Areas. Only EFH Conservation Areas are closed to specific types of fishing. These areas are defined by latitude and longitude coordinates. Fishery managers must evaluate the effect of fishing and non-fishing activities on EFH. Fishery Management Councils may restrict fishing with specific gear types in EFH Conservation Areas as a protection measure.
Additional information, including maps and analytical documents can be found on the West Coast Essential Fish Habitat Page.
Current coordinates that define all of the EFH boundary lines are listed in Federal Regulation at 50 CFR 660.75 through 660.79 and are available via the links below:
- 660.75 - EFH
- 660.76 - EFH Conservation Areas
- 660.77 - EFH Conservation Areas off the coast of Washington
- 660.78 - EFH conservation Areas off the coast of Oregon
- 660.79 - EFH Conservation Areas off the coast of California
- GIS and CSV Formatted Data:
Data Point Files
Data points for latitude and longitude coordinates are available in additional formats. Please review the Geographic Data for NOAA Fisheries' Final Rule (PDF, 1 page) before downloading these files.
- Shapefiles (WinZip File, 649kb)
- CSV Format- EFH designation (CSV File,17kb)
- CSV Format-EFH Conservation Areas (CSV File, 62kb)
- Groundfish on the West Coast
- West Coast Groundfish Catch Shares Fishery
- Groundfish Essential Fish Habitat