California Department of Fish and Wildlife

California Cowcod Conservation Areas

California Cowcod Conservation Areas
The first stock assessment of cowcod was completed in 1999; the results of which led to cowcod being declared "overfished". Soon after, management measures were taken by both state and federal agencies to curb the catch of cowcod statewide. In the Southern California Bight, access to the shelf has been restricted by implementation of depth-based Cowcod Conservation Areas (CCAs). The CCAs, implemented in 2001 (Section 27.28(d)), prohibits most of the bottom-fishing deeper than approximately 20 fathoms (36 m). The Southern California Bight is the area where cowcod are most abundant, where adult habitat is most common, and where catches are highest.

The closed area includes a 4,200 square mile area (Area 1, or CCA West) off the Palos Verdes Peninsula extending southwards about 90 miles and westward another 50 miles. A smaller area, the "43-fathom spot," (Area 2, or CCA East) which lies 40 miles offshore of San Diego and extends northward and offshore to cover 100 square miles was also designated as part of the closure area.

Cowcod are also managed as a no-retention fishery (i.e. take is prohibited) in the commercial and recreational sectors statewide. Catches after 2000 are less than one metric ton per year, indicating that the effort to eliminate cowcod catch has been effective.

Map

Map of California Cowcod Conservation Areas Adobe Reader required

Alternate Map of California Cowcod Conservation Areas Adobe Reader required
Does not contain bathymetric grid - Suitable for printing

Regulations

Section 27.50

Cowcod Conservation Areas (CCAs) for recreational fisheries means waters which are 20 fathoms in depth and deeper within each of the following two areas. Area 1 is an area south of Point Conception that is bound by straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

  • 33°50' N. lat., 119°30' W. long.;
  • 33°50' N. lat., 118°50' W. long.;
  • 32°20' N. lat., 118°50' W. long.;
  • 32°20' N. lat., 119°37' W. long.;
  • 33°00' N. lat., 119°37' W. long.;
  • 33°00' N. lat., 119°53' W. long.;
  • 33°33' N. lat., 119°53' W. long.;
  • 33°33' N. lat., 119°30' W. long.;
  • 33°50' N. lat., 119°30' W. long.;

and Area 2 is a smaller area west of San Diego that is bound by straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

  • 32°42' N. lat., 118°02' W. long.;
  • 32°42' N. lat., 117°50' W. long.;
  • 32°36' 42" N. lat., 117°50' W. long.;
  • 32°30' N. lat., 117°53'30" W. long.;
  • 32°30' N. lat., 118°02' W. long.;
  • 32°42' N. lat., 118°02' W. long.

At no time may rockfish, lingcod, and associated species (limited to cabezon, greenlings of the genus Hexagrammos, California scorpionfish, California sheephead, and ocean whitefish) be taken or possessed while fishing in waters 20 fathoms or greater in depth as described by general depth contour lines in the Cowcod Conservation Areas (see Section 27.83 for restrictions on fishing gear within the Cowcod Conservation Areas).