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Collaborative Projects

The California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program (CCFRP) collaborates on a variety of projects to collect data on nearshore fish populations to inform fisheries management

Collecting Biological Data for Stock Assessments

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The California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program (CCFRP) collaborates with the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) to collect biological data from nearshore groundfish species for use in state and federal stock assessments. These collections are a part of a broader effort to enhance the available biological data (i.e., morphometrics, otoliths, fin clips, ovaries, etc.) to inform life history parameters and population connectivity for state and federal stock assessments of nearshore species and contribute towards more accurate management in the future. The fishery independent data provided by CCFRP has been used to inform a number of stock assessments including the 2015 China Rockfish assessment (Dick et al. 2016), the 2015 Black Rockfish assessment (Cope et al. 2016), the 2017 combined Blue and Deacon Rockfish assessment (Dick et al. 2017), the 2019 combined Gopher and Black-and-Yellow Rockfish (Monk and He, 2019), the 2021 Quillback Rockfish assessment (Langseth et al. 2021), 2021 Vermilion Rockfish assessment (Monk et al. 2021 & Dick et al. 2021), and 2021 Lingcod assessment (Johnson et al. 2021).

Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo Observer Program

The Cal Poly Observer Program (CPOP), designed by Dr. Dean Wendt from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, is a fisheries dependent observer project designed to collect catch, discard, and effort data aboard Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels (CPFV) along the coast of San Luis Obispo County, California. Observers keep track of the time spent fishing and the number of fishes encountered and discarded on a trip to calculate catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE). Other important information recorded on these trips include location of fishing effort, depth, water temperature, species identification and length. CPOP began in 2003, and data from this program have been incorporated into several rockfish stock assessments as an index of relative abundance with associated length compositions. These assessments include the 2015 Bocaccio assessment (He et al. 2015), the 2015 China Rockfish assessment (Dick et al. 2016), the 2017 Bocaccio assessment (He and Field 2018), and the 2019 combined Gopher and Black-and-Yellow Rockfish assessment (Monk and He 2019).

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Assessing Central California Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCA) 

Location of collaborative fishing efforts to study the effects of the Recreational RCA on central California rockfish species. Drift locations are marked in black and are within three sampling areas (i.e. Cordell Bank, Farallon Islands, and Half Moon Bay). Cordell Bank sites include shallow and deep reefs within the RCA, whereas Farallon Islands and Half Moon Bay sites include drifts inside and outside of the RCA.

Large swaths of the seafloor off the U.S. West Coast have been closed to fishing for bottom fishes —to rebuild overfished stocks, such as Bocaccio, Canary Rockfish, Cowcod and Darkblotched Rockfish. This project assed how fish populations within Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCAs) off Central California have responded since the closures went into effect in 2002. Teams of volunteer anglers were key to the project, as they are boarding charted passenger sport fishing vessels to help scientists conduct repeat hook-and-line surveys of four sites—two within the RCAs and two outside them. Fish were caught, measured, tagged and released (for a recapture study later). The data from this survey were compared with a similar angler survey program led by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife from 1987 to 1998. The primary goals of the project were to compare catch rates, species composition and fish sizes inside and outside the RCAs before and after the closures, as well as patterns that may be more likely attributable to shifts in ocean climate. In addition to the angler surveys, female rockfishes (from six species) were collected during the winter spawning season to document relationships between female rockfish fecundity and body size, age, liver weight and lipid stores. This component of the project was a collaboration with NOAA’s Cooperative Research Program. The final report from this project can be accessed here.

Baseline Surveys of Nearshore Fishes In and Near Central California Marine Protected Areas Using Trap Gear and Hook and Line (2007-2009)

 To characterize species composition, catch rates and sizes of nearshore fishes, a total of 115 surveys employing hook-and-line methods, and 68 surveys using trap fishing methods occurred in and near the Año Nuevo, Point Lobos, Cambria, Piedras Blancas, and Point Buchon marine protected areas from 2007 to 2009. During these baseline surveys, a total of 12 Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels (CPFVs), 4 commercial trap-fishing vessels, and 415 volunteer anglers spent a total of 1,121 hours fishing with hook-and-line gear, and 3,445 hours fishing with trap gear. This combined effort resulted in a total catch of 26,262 fishes, which were comprised of 42 species. Of the total catch, 22,551 fishes were tagged and released. Out of the fishes released with tags,119 were recaptured and reported with information about the location of recapture.


The results from this baseline survey show that the ten most frequently caught species were similar among MPAs, and the composition between paired MPAs and reference sites were more similar than among MPAs, indicating that the reference sites chosen are well-suited for comparisons with associated MPAs in Central California. Catch and biomass rates for most species were higher in MPAs than in reference sites, indicating habitat differences existed prior to the establishment of the MPAs. When differences in mean lengths of fishes were detected, the lengths were most often greater in MPAs than in associated reference sites. The final report from this project can be accessed here.

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