CDFW Bans Retention of Quillback Rockfish

Image: California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has banned retention of quillback rockfish in both recreational and commercial fisheries effective Aug. 7.

CDFW officials said July 28 that the combined recreational and commercial take of quillback rockfish  would exceed the harvest limits specified in federal regulation for 2023, and that in-season action must be taken to reduce the risk of overfishing.

Under California state law when federal harvest limits are projected to be exceeded, CDFW has authority to make in-season changes, including adjustments to bag and sub-bag limits.

Quillback rockfish, which are found from Kodiak Island in Alaska to Southern California, can grow to up to 25 inches in length and 7.2 pounds, and can live up to 95 years. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and is high in protein, Vitamin D and selenium.

The California state agency said that 2021 that stock assessments for quillback rockfish off California indicated severe population declines. As a result, CDFW put in place a one-fish limit for recreational fishermen and reduced commercial limits were implemented in 2022 to control that catch.

Further constraints to the groundfish seasons for 2023 have not sufficiently reduced catch for quillback rockfish to meet federal harvest guidelines, the agency said.

CDFW said it will continue to monitor groundfish species of concern, including the quillback rockfish, and if the current in-season change prohibiting take of quillback rockfish isn’t sufficient to reduce harvest, additional in-season actions, such as modifications to the season dates and/or depth constraints, may be implemented.