Published in The California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations Reports, Volume 47, January 1, 2006. This article was published online at California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations.
Rockfishes (Sebastes spp.) have historically comprised a large proportion of catches in the nearshore recreational fishery in California, but declining populations of some species have led to increasingly restrictive management of the resource. This report summarizes new and existing data on rockfishes of the south central coast of California. In 2003, the California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo placed observers on commercial passenger fishing vessels (partyboats) from the region. By the end of 2005, we had observed catches from 258 trips (8,839 fisher hours). We appended these data to partyboat catch statistics collected by the California Department of Fish and Game from 1988 to 1998 and calculated annual catch per unit effort (CPUE) and mean sizes by species and year. The CPUE data by species fluctuate annually but rarely show consistent trends. The overall CPUE for 2004 and 2005 ranks in the top five of the twenty sampled years. Mean sizes have been consistent by species, generally just above the size of 50% maturity. Comparing these sizes to historical data shows decreases in some species but not in others. A review of NOAA/NMFS triennial trawl data for the Point Conception area in the southern part of the study region suggests that the deeper shelf and slope species, with a few exceptions, show little evidence of long-term declines. In general, the south central coast rockfish resources, with the exception of bocaccio (S. paucispinis), have not shown strong evidence of a declining trend over the past 25 years.