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This year Real Good Fish was awarded an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) to test a new Chilipepper Rockfish fishery in central California. The first trip under this EFP permit was successfully conducted on May 8th, 2019 by Fisherman Calder Deyerle on the F/V Sea Harvest 3.
Here is some context on what makes this fishing trip so special:
Since 2003 there has been a Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) off the coast of central California. This area has been closed to commercial fishing in order to rebuild depleted Rockfish populations and preserve the marine habitat they need to thrive. Rockfish have made a big comeback in recent years, leading the federal government to take measures to slowly open the RCA. In partnership with local fishermen and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), RGF applied for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) that would allow local fishermen to fish in these closed areas as an exploratory measure to see if the fish populations are ready.
The fishermen will be using an old-school fishing gear called a ‘fly line’, which is able to target abundant rockfish and stay off the seafloor. This protects the sensitive rockfish species that we still want to avoid and leaves the seafloor untouched, making our landings very sustainable and also extremely high quality since each fish is caught by hook and line.
Most importantly, this Chilipepper Rockfish EFP is a chance to return more value to local fishermen, particularly young local fishermen who have greater barriers getting into local fisheries. Most Rockfish species are abundant, rated as Best Choice by the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program (when caught by hook and line), and are versatile and delicious! Being a part of Real Good Fish and enjoying this Rockfish directly supports the next generation of Monterey Bay fishermen and shows the federal government that this is a valuable fishery worth supporting for years to come!