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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Sustaining California’s Catch: Insights for the new Experimental Fishing Permit (EFP) Program


As ocean conditions continue to be altered by climate change, California’s fishing industry and fisheries management must adapt and find new ways of progressing into the future. California’s waters support valuable economic resources for both food security and job stability. Because of this, new state fishing regulations seek to provide opportunities to both the fishing industry and fisheries managers while protecting the future of these valuable marine resources. Assembly Bill 1573, the California Fisheries Innovation Act of 2018, set standards for creating a formalized and expansive Experimental Fishing Permit (EFP) Program that would promote collaborative research in exploring emerging or underutilized fisheries and testing new or modified fishing gear types through conservation engineering across both the recreational and commercial fishing industry sectors. The new California EFP Program, expected to begin in 2021, stands to have great success in fostering fisheries collaboration, sustainability, scientific research, and more adaptive fisheries management strategies. However, there are regulatory hurdles, prohibitive costs, and barriers to collaboration that should be addressed before the program begins.

The following Capstone Report provides background research for the new EFP Program by investigating past successful federal Exempted Fishing Permits, the current California box crab EFP, potential future California EFP projects as well as the expected benefits and limitations of the permit program. The intention of this project is to assess state research needs and prepare the EFP Program for successful implementation in 2021. In the concluding section of the report, recommendations are made for the EFP Program procedural guidelines which will be drafted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife later this year.

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