Fishing Regulations

Who manages our fisheries?

Nearshore fisheries (0-3 miles) are managed by the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), while fisheries in federal waters (3-200 miles) are managed by NOAA FisheriesSeePFMC’s website for further information and dates for meetings. 

The state Fish and Game Commission legislates marine policy in California waters. See California Code of Regulations, Title 14, for complete listing of state fishing regulations. 

 Mangt matrix d2 MS

 (Courtesy California Sea Grant Extension Program,

What methods are used? 

  • Quotas (Overall or Individual)
  • Limited entry system (set number of participants is the norm for most fisheries)
  • Gear restrictions (e.g. mesh size, number of hooks per line)
  • Trip or landing limits
  • Closed seasons or areas (for habitat protection, spawning, etc)

How are fisheries enforced?

  • Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS, tracking device on boat)
  • Onboard observers
  • CDFG wardens may check vessels and/or catch
  • Catch is recorded at the dock on fish sales tickets
In some fisheries where quotas are used, such as groundfish and salmon, the catch is tracked and the fishery may be closed early if quota is reached.

Links to Federally-Managed Fisheries:

State-Managed Fisheries

California Commercial Fishing Digest of Laws and Regulations (State of California, Resources Agency, Department of Fish and Game)


How is stock abundance measured?

  • Researchers collect data on species' life history, habitat, and population characteristics
  • Fishery-dependent data (research/monitoring what fishermen catch) is also used for analysis
  • Stock Assessments are reports summarizing the status of the stock
  • In the face of no data - use of 'precautionary principle'