BY MERIT McCREA
SAN DIEGO — This year the California Department of Fish and Game (Department) reduced the bag limit on halibut from 3 to 2 fish north of Pt. Sur, CA. as a temporary emergency action. The halibut bite has been popping inside the San Francisco Bay and both recreational and commercial fishermen have been on this bite big-time (actually mostly “sport-mercial,” or avid recreational anglers who purchased commercial licenses and sell their excess halibut somewhere).
At the same time the salmon fishery tanked and there was no salmon season, leaving fishers stripers and halibut. Fearing the worst for the new halibut opportunity in the Bay the Department reduced the halibut daily bag limit to 2 fish, for the area of the entire state from Point Sur, Monterey County, north.
Stripers are less of a concern, as they are seen as a non-native species and as such the incentive for conservation is much less.
While this may seem as a bit of an over-reach for an issue that occurs almost exclusively in S.F. Bay waters, that’s what was done.
At the Fish and Game Commission (CFGC) this week the Department presented their first presentation in a multi-meeting process to formalize these emergency regulations into Title 14.
At this time, the Department is strongly favoring a uniform 2-fish daily halibut bag limit for the entire state, including areas where boat catches of halibut rarely exceed a 2-fish-per-angler level.