The Central California Marine Sport Fish Project has been collecting angler catch data from the Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel (CPFV) industry intermittently for several decades I order to assess the status of this valuable nearshore recreational fishery. The project has focused on rockfish and lingcod angling and has not sampled salmon trips. This fourth report in a series presents data collected from 1994, refer to historical data from 1987 to 1993, and documents trends by port area in species composition, angler effort, catch, and, for selected species, catch per unit effort (CPUE), mean length and length frequency. In addition, total catch and effort estimates are made based on adjustments of logbook data by sampling information.
Before 1987, catch information was primarily obtained on a general port basis from dockside sampling of CPFVs, also called party boats. This did not allow documentation of specific areas of importance to recreational anglers and was not sufficient to assess the status of rockfish populations at specific locations.
CPFV operators are required by law to record total catch and location for all fishing trips in logbooks provided by the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG). However, the required information is too general for use in assessing the status of the multi-species rockfish complex on a reef-by-reef basis. Rockfish catch data are not reported by species and information on location is only requested by block number (a block is an area of 100 square miles). Many rockfishes tend to be residential, underscoring the need for site-specific data. Thus, there is a strong need to collect catch information on board CPFVs at sea. However, locations of specific fishing sites are not revealed since that information is confidential.
In May 1987 the Central California Marine Sport Fish Project began on-board sampling of the CPFV fleet. Data collection continued until June 1990, when state budgetary constraints temporarily precluded further sampling, resumed in August 1991, and continued through 1994. The program depends on the voluntary cooperation of CPFV owners and operators.
Angler catches on board central and northern California CPFVs were sampled from 14 ports, ranging from Crescent City in the north to Port San Luis (Avila Beach) in the south (Figure 1). In 1987 the program began in the Santa Cruz-Monterey area and was expanded to other ports in 1988. During 1994, data were collected at fishing locations ranging from Point St. George (ca. lat. 41 50'N) to Purisima Point (ca. lat. 34 45'N), a distance of approximately 425 naut. mi., and out to 95 fm. Fishery Technicians, supplied by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) under contract with the Department, and project biologists conducted all on-board sampling of catches. The following ports or port groups were sampled: 1) Eureka, Trinidad, and Crescent City (EK); 2) Fort Bragg (FB); 3) Bodega Bay and Dillon Beach (BB); 4) Princeton (Half Moon Bay), Emeryville, and Sausalito (SF); 5) Santa Cruz and Monterey (MT); 6) San Simeon, Morro Bay, and Port San Luis (MB).
CPFVs which allowed on-board sampling ranged in length from 26 to 102 ft and passenger capacity ranged from 6 to 120 persons (average capacity 45 persons). The number of cooperating CPFVs per port area ranged from 3 to 14. Trips were usually one half or one full day, the latter typically departing at 0700 and returning by 1600. Two vessels from the Morro Bay area occasionally operated on a 2- or 3-day trip on weekends.
Trips were selected on a random basis from a complete list of rockfish/lingcod CPFVs for each port area. CPFV operators were telephoned and asked if a trip was available. If the boat was either unavailable or full to capacity, or if the sampler was refused passage, successive boats on the list were contacted until a trip was secured. When the sampler began scheduling the next trip, the next boat on the list was contacted first. Targeted sample size for each sampler was one trip for each successive 3-day block in a month. Primarily due to weather constraints, unavailability of trips, and lack of fisheries Technicians during a contract restructuring from August to October 1994, this sample size was seldom achieved.
Samplers were initially trained in marine fish species identification. Each sampler was equipped with foul weather gear, gloves, clipboard, waterproof data sheets, fish length measuring board, lead pencils, and field guides to California marine fishes. At the start of each trip, the sampler asked the vessel operator for the number of paid and free anglers (the latter was increased if the captain and/or deck hand(s) fished during the trip). Department of Fish and Game vessel number, port code, departure time, type of fishing trip (offshore, nearshore, surface, bottom, mix), and type of fishing tackle used were recorded on a standard sampling form.
When the vessel arrived at a fishing location, the sampler recorded depth in fathoms, the time when fishing lines were lowered, and either latitude and longitude, LORAN coordinates, or land bearings. When the last observed fishing line was raised, time and depth were again recorded and the process was repeated throughout the day. New location coordinates were obtained only when the sampler determined that the vessel had moved to a different location, as defined under 'Shoreside Data Processing'.
At the first fishing location, the sampler chose a reasonable number of anglers to observe throughout the trip and recorded this number (usually less than 15). In most cases, this was less than the total number of anglers. Samplers recorded the number of observed and total anglers actually fishing during each drift, or within each drift if the number of anglers changed.
Samplers observed anglers in the stern half of the vessel, where a larger sample size could be obtained. An assumption in our sampling methodology, shown to be statistically valid in 1993 (Wilson-Vandenberg et al. 1995), is that catch, effort, and catch per unit effort (CPUE) data from observed anglers in the stern of the vessel are representative of all anglers on the vessel.
To avoid sample bias, samplers were careful not to influence the fishing activity of observed anglers. Samplers identified and counted each fish caught by all observed anglers. If a fish could not be identified to species, it was identified to the lowest taxon possible. The ultimate fate of each observed fish was recorded as either kept, released, used as bait, or unknown. If the fish was released, the sampler attempted to determine if it survived or died (in the latter case, it was usually consumed by a pelican or gulls). The combined catch by species for all observed anglers was recorded on one data sheet; individual catches per angler were not recorded.
All observed fish were recorded separately by location. If the sampler could not determine whether one location was different from a previous one, it was considered to be different until the locations could be compared using nautical charts.
When fishing had ceased for the day, the sampler then measured total length (TL) in mm of as many observed kept fishes as possible by marking the length of each fish on a plastic measuring board, keeping all species separated. Fork length was used for mackerel species. Not all observed kept fishes were measured due to refusal of an angler to have his/her catch examined, early filleting by the deck hand, or hazardous working conditions caused by inclement weather. When time permitted, fishes caught by unobserved anglers also were measured and their lengths recorded separately from observed fishes' lengths.
Miscellaneous data were recorded on reproductive condition of fishes, weather and sea conditions, commercial fishing activity in the area, and sightings of marine mammals. Lingcod length and sex data, and fin rays, were collected for a cooperative study with the National Marine Fisheries Service whenever possible.
Confidential codes were assigned to each unique fishing location after plotting the location on a nautical chart. Unique fishing locations were defined as circular areas separated from other locations by a minimum distance based on depth. For depths less than 20 fm, location centers were no closer than 0.5 naut. mi. to other locations. For depths between 20 and 40 fm, location centers were no closer than 1.0 naut. mi. to each other. For depths greater than 40 fm, location centers were no closer than 2.0 naut. mi. to each other.
All fish measurements on the measuring board were determined to the nearest mm and transferred to length data forms by species. At this time, all species' length data were assigned to a range of location codes as specifically as possible.
Above information extracted from: ONBOARD SAMPLING OF THE ROCKFISH AND LINGCOD COMMERCIAL PASSENGER
FISHING VESSEL INDUSTRY IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA AND CENTRAL CALIFORNIA, JANUARY THROUGH
DECEMBER 1994 by Deb Wilson-Vandenberg, Paul N. Reilly and Carrie E. Wilson;
CDFG Marine Resources Division Admistrative Rport 96-6, 1996