Tuesday January 9, 2024


New rules took effect January 1 permanently protecting the most fragile and diverse deep sea corals off Southern California. Spanning more than 600 square miles, eight distinct areas are now closed to all commercial and recreational groundfish fishing gears to protect the living seafloor.

Simultaneously, more than 4,500 square miles of ocean waters in the region are now re-open to recreational and commercial fishing for groundfish species following more than 20 years of closures to recover cowcod rockfish. This advancement for sustainable fishing and ocean conservation is the result of a unique collaboration between fishermen and the conservation organization Oceana, with support from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The National Marine Fisheries Service finalized the regulations following a vote for these changes last March by the Pacific Fishery Management Council — a 14-member federal advisory body.

Similarly, the new rules protect five reefs offshore Oregon from all commercial groundfish fishing gear designed to contact the seafloor to protect the diversity of ocean life living there. The five conservation areas off Oregon total 182 square miles in size.

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