California Ocean Sport Fishing regulations can be confusing
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I picked up a copy of the new 2013-2014 California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations. Inside are mostly the same daily bag limits on individual species and mostly unchanged seasons. 

Then, in the 117-page booklet, not counting the cover pages, it gets tricky. We have expanded Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s). These are areas along the California coast from Baja to Oregon that have special rules for taking saltwater critters. Some are overlaid with State Marine Reserves (SMR’s) in which you can only observe sea life. 

Then, the important State Marine Conservation Areas (SMCA’s) can be inside the MPA, SMR and special closure areas, one of which is off our own Fort Ross, where there was a mysterious die off of abalone two summers ago. 

I also found species-specific conservation areas and area-specific management zones, one of which is the San Francisco Groundfish Management Area, which covers groundfish. I usually catch fish in the water, so I don’t think I will get in trouble with that one.

The new booklet has several easy to follow matrices, which cover some of the above zones and areas. 

Several of these matrices are helpful in that specific ‘management’ areas are marked with latitude and longitude positions in the easy 12-12-digit format. Compasses are no longer helpful because they do not adjust for Magnetic North versus True North, called ‘declination’; nor can you break it down to bits of a second on a standard compass because they are designed to give you a fairly exact heading. So, you will need a portable GPS unit to augment your car’s GPS for areas where you have to get out of your car to fish. It is possible to use your smart phone to get specific on the boundaries, mostly.  

Fees for a standard fishing license are up again. You must buy an ‘Ocean Enhancement sticker.’ There are also special stickers for abalone, sturgeon, steelhead, salmon and spiny lobster. The guide covers these report cards and permits in just two pages of fine print. There is also a page devoted to license fees and an invitation to participate in the regulatory process, as if we need more opinions on management of our resources.

My brain is starting to sizzle; I think I will do my taxes just to relax. 

Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.


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