Disclaimer: This is an interactive, draft mock-up that was created to inform the development of the California Fisheries Portal. This is not an active website and does not represent the final draft of the California Fisheries Portal. This mock-up was developed based on the first stakeholder focus group (2018) and serves as an interactive discussion draft for the stakeholder webinar on March 22, 2019.

Barred Sand Bass Enhanced Status Report

Table of Contents

3. Management

3.1 Past and Current Management Measures

Barred Sand Bass, Spotted Sand Bass, and Kelp Bass have always been managed together as one group with a combination of minimum size and bag limits. The state legislature limited the take of “kelp bass and rock bass” in 1939 with a 15 fish aggregate bag limit (Table 3-1). Over the next decade, the bag limit changed several times and a minimum size limit was introduced in 1953. The term “rock bass” was dropped from the regulations in 1957 and the minimum size limit increased over the next few years. There were a few more changes to the bag limit in the 1970s, but the next regulation update did not occur for nearly 40 yr. In 2013, stricter size and bag limits were introduced to address concerns regarding the status of Barred Sand Bass and Kelp Bass populations.

Table 3-1. Historical record of southern California saltwater bass (Paralabrax spp.) minimum size and bag limit regulations aFGC §746, bCCR Title 14 §62, cFGC §714.7, dCCR Title 14 §28.30 (Reproduced from Jarvis et al. 2014a).
3.1.1 Overview and Rationale for the Current Management Framework

Minimum size limits are set to allow fish to live long enough to reproduce for one or more seasons before reaching a size at which they can be legally retained. The previous size limit of 12.0 in (30.5 cm) corresponds with Barred Sand Bass that are 5-plus yr of age. Female Barred Sand Bass mature between 2 and 5 yr of age; thereforethis size limit may not have allowed all females to spawn once prior to becoming vulnerable to the fishery. The new size limit of 14.0 in (35.6cm) corresponds with fish that are 7-plus yr of age, and is designed to allow more years of spawning before fish are vulnerable tofishing. Bag limits are typically utilized to limit the number of reproducing individuals that can be removed from the population. When fishing a spawning aggregation it was possible for anglers to reach the previous bag limit often fish per anglerwith just Barred Sand Bassbecause they were so easy to catch.The reduced bag limit is designed to limit the impact of fishing on this stock.

3.1.1.1   Criteria to Identify When Fisheries Are Overfished or Subject to Overfishing, and Measures to RebuildThe Department has not established overfishing criteria for the Barred Sand Bass fishery. Department staff continue to annually monitor catch, effort and size trends utilizing both fishery-dependent and fishery-independent datasets. These data are evaluated relative to historic trends and environmental factors (Jarvis et al. 2014a). A stock assessment and FMP have not been completed for the Barred Sand Bass resource. Sustainability of the fishery is being evaluated through various methods including the Data Limited Methods Toolkit to conduct a Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) of alternative rebuilding methods and length at age-based models. Due to concerns for the resource, the Barred Sand Bass fishery has multiple layers of regulations in place to aid in resource protection.

3.1.1.2   Past and Current Stakeholder Involvement

Stakeholder involvement has primarily occurred during regulation changes for the saltwater basses. The last regulation change increased the minimum size limit and decreased the bag limit (California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 14 §28.30). Leading to the regulation change various stakeholder groups including tribes, CPFV operators, recreational anglers, spearfishers, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), other scientists, and the general public were consulted and given the opportunity to comment throughout the Commission process. A series of informative presentations by Department staff experts on the topic engaged stakeholders and stakeholder input was considered.

To create effective future management strategies for Barred Sand Bass, the Department will continue to involve stakeholders when regulation changes or novel approaches to managing the fishery are being considered, FMPs are being developed, and new collaborative opportunities arise for research and monitoring.

3.1.2 Target Species
3.1.2.1   Limitations on Fishing for Target Species
3.1.2.1.1 Catch
The Department continues to manage the three saltwater bass species (Kelp Bass, Barred Sand Bass, Spotted Sand Bass) together. There is a bag and possession limit of five fish in any combination of species.

3.1.2.1.2 Effort
Currently, there are no regulatory limitations on effort. Only a sport fishing license is required for recreational anglers.

3.1.2.1.3 Gear
Barred Sand Bass are taken by hook and line or by spear only. Recreational anglers fishing from boat or shore may use any number of hooks and lines, while anglers on public piers may use no more than two lines.

3.1.2.1.4 Time
The Barred Sand Bass fishery is open year-round.

3.1.2.1.5 Sex
Both sexes of Barred Sand Bass may be taken in the recreational fishery, as it is not possible to determine sex externally.

3.1.2.1.6 Size
The Department continues to manage the three saltwater bass species together. For Kelp Bass, Barred Sand Bass and Spotted Sand Bass, there is a minimum size limit of 14.0 in (35.6 cm) TL or 10.0 in (25.4 cm) alternate length (defined as the length from the base of the foremost spine of dorsal fin to longest tip of tail). The three bass species also have a fillet length regulation that permits the filleting of legal-sized bass aboard vessels while at sea. All species of bass fillets must be a minimum of 7.5 in (19.1 cm) length and bear intact a one in square patch of skin in order to aid in identifying the fish species for enforcement purposes.

3.1.2.1.7 Area
There are no restrictions on where Barred Sand Bass may be fished except for inside Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

3.1.2.1.8 Marine Protected Areas
Under the direction of the Marine Life Protection Act, the Department redesigned and expanded a network of regional MPAs in state waters from 2004 to 2012. The resulting network increased total MPA coverage from 2.7% to 16.1% of state waters. Along with the MPAs created in 2002 for waters surrounding the Santa Barbara Channel Islands, California now has a scientifically designed statewide network of 133 MPAs. The MPAs contain a wide variety of habitats and depth ranges. However, the MPA network was not designed to specifically benefit a single species such as Barred Sand Bass, which are most abundant over inshore artificial and natural reefs, and spawn over soft bottom habitat. It is unclear how much protection will be afforded to adult Barred Sand Bass from southern California’s MPAs, though it is likely insignificant given the majority of fishing pressure has historically focused on their spawning aggregations that are largely unprotected (Erisman et al. 2011). Of the MPAs within their home range in southern California, only the South La Jolla State Marine Reserve and the Tijuana River Mouth State Marine Conservation Area protect small portions of known spawning sites off La Jolla (Semmens and Parnell 2014) and Silver Strand (Love et al. 1996a), respectively.

3.1.2.2 Description of and Rationale for Any Restricted Access Approach
The recreational Barred Sand Bass fishery is an open access fishery.

3.1.3 Bycatch
3.1.3.1   Amount and Type of Bycatch (Including Discards)

The Fish and Game Code (FGC) §90.5 defines bycatch as “fish or other marine life that are taken in a fishery but which are not the target of the fishery.”Bycatch includes “discards,” defined as “fish that are taken in a fishery but are not retained because they are of an undesirable species, size, sex, or quality, or because they are required by law not to be retained” (FGC §91). Since recreational anglers targeting Barred Sand Bass are often targeting a suite of other fishes as well, the Department classifies these fishes commonly targeted and caught in association with Barred Sand Bass as incidental catch. The Master Plan defines incidental catch as fish caught incidentally during the pursuit of the primary target speciesthat arelegal and desirable to be sold or kept for consumption. Themost common species incidentally caught in 2017 on CPFV trips where at least one Barred Sand Bass was caught included Kelp Bass, California Scorpionfish (Scorpaena guttata), unspecified rockfishes, Ocean Whitefish (Caulolatilus princeps), Pacific Mackerel (Scomber japonicus), Pacific Bonito (Sarda lineolata), California Barracuda (Sphyraena argentea), Blacksmith (Chromis punctipinnis), Vermilion Rockfish (Sebastes miniatus), and California Sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher) (Table 3-2). These species may be secondary targets or primary targets on CPFV trips that are targeting Barred Sand Bass. Note that several of these species are also associated with Barred Sand Bass habitat (see section 1.4.1). With the exception of Blacksmith, all of the incidentally caught species listed in Table 3-2 have management measures in place.

Table 3-2. Number caught and percent of trips (frequency of occurrence) for the top ten incidental catch species on CPFV trips where at least one Barred Sand Bass was also caught in 2017 (MLS).

Catching any species that has a take that is prohibited is of special concern. Giant Sea Bass (Stereolepis gigas), Cowcod (Sebastes levis)and Garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundushave all been recorded as caught and discarded on a few CPFV trips in 2017 where at least one Barred Sand Bass was also caught (Table 3-3). However, the absolute numbers and frequency of these occurrences are extremely low.

Table 3-3. Number caught and percent of trips (frequency of occurrence) for species whose take is prohibited. Data for trips that also caught at least one Barred Sand Bass in 2017 (MLS).


Catch and release rates of the target species are relatively high in the Barred Sand Bass fishery with 55% of fish being released according to CRFS data (Semmens and  Parnell 2014). Catch and release fishing was historically popular with saltwater bass anglers because of the perception that the discards will survive and promote the conservation of the fishery (Semmens and Parnell 2014).

Discards may include both legal and sublegal fish, however, there is limited size information on discarded fish. Size frequency data from CRFS suggests that >75% of discarded Barred Sand Bass each year were sublegal between 2003 and 2017, with the exception of 2004 and 2011(Figure 3-1 A).

The estimated number of Barred Sand Bass discarded annually from both CPFVs and private boats peaked at the height of the fishery in the early 2000s (91,000 and 316,000 discards respectively), followed by a steady decline (Figure 3-1 B and C). Annual discards for both modes remain low as of 2017 (21,000 and 87,000 respectively). The number of Barred Sand Bass DiscardedPerUnitEffort (DPUE) from CPFVs and private boats also decreased from a peak in the early 2000s until beginning to rebound in 2013 (Figure 3-1 B and C). The rise in DPUE in 2013 probably reflects the increased minimum size limit implemented that year. Following 2013, DPUE fell again, before showing signs of a substantial increase into 2017 for both fishing modes. The increase in DPUE may suggest that a successful recruitment event occurred during the warm water El Niño phase of 2014 to 2016. This was also reflected in an increased number of juveniles observed during fishery-independent surveys during this time period (Figure 1-4). The total number of discards remains low in a historical context because the absence of spawning aggregations has resulted in fewer targeted fishing trips. However, the positive trend in DPUE for trips that do target the species suggests a new cohort of sublegal fish may appear in the catch throughout the next 5 to 7 yr.

Figure 3-1. (A) Annual trends in the proportion of sublegal and legal Barred Sand Bass discarded from CPFVs (RecFIN sample data) and annual trends in bycatch of Barred Sand Bass presented as discards per unit effort (DPUE, black line) and the total number of discards (grey bars) for (B) CPFVs (MLS 1995 to 2017) and (C) private/rental boats (RecFIN 2004 to 2017).

3.1.3.2 Assessment of Sustainability and Measures to Reduce Unacceptable Levels of Bycatch

As described above, the bycatch in the Barred Sand Bass fishery is primarily other shallow reef and coastal pelagic speciesthat are monitored and managedseparately. While the catch of some sensitive species in the CPFV fishery for Barred Sand Bass, the numbers caught per year are low, and all were released.This fishery has not had any adverse interactions withseabirds or marine mammals.While theproportionof Barred Sand Bassdiscarded is high, the available data suggests discard mortality is low. For these reasonsthe Department does not consider the type and amount of bycatch for the Barred Sand Bass fishery to be at an unacceptable level and thus measures have not been developed to reduce it.

3.1.4 Habitat

3.1.4.1   Description of Threats
Coastal development and urban runoff can pose a risk to inshore nursery habitats due to negative effects on water quality and the persistence of eelgrass (Zedler 1996). Additionally, the growth and body condition of adult Barred Sand Bass on coastal rocky reefs are negatively affected by high levels of organic pollutants in areas such as Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbor in Los Angeles County and Huntington Flats in Orange County (Sanchez 2015). Climate change, invasive species and the predicted increased variability in the cool and warm water regimes may also have detrimental effects on the health of nearshore kelp forest ecosystems on both natural and artificial reefs (Caselle et al. 2017; Provost et al. 2017; Ramírez-Valdez et al. 2017).

3.1.4.2   Measures to Minimize Any Adverse Effects on Habitat Caused by Fishing
The Barred Sand Bass fishery is mainly a hook and line recreational fishery; some spearfishing does occur. Given the low impact nature of these gear types, adverse effects on habitat caused by fishing for Barred Sand Bass are considered to be minimal and therefore measures to minimize them have not been developed. Some impact to marine invertebrates associated with rocky reefs can result from anchoring of vessels or fishing gear snagging on structure or organisms, but this is likely minimal. Compared to other fishing gear types, such as bottom trawls or traps, the impacts of a hook and line fishery on habitats is likely very minor.

3.2 Requirements for Person or Vessel Permits and Reasonable Fees

Unless recreationally fishing off a public pier, all anglers 16-yr-old or older are required to purchase a fishing license if recreationally fishing in the ocean. Anglers fishing south of Point Arguello must also have an ocean enhancement stamp. Captains operating their vessels as CPFVs or private charters must purchase a permit.

Version: The Barred Sand Bass Enhanced Status Report was updated in print and online in 2019.

Download: Barred Sand Bass Status Report (2019) (pdf)

Contact Us: To contact CDFW regarding Barred Sand Bass, please email fish@wildlife.ca.gov or call (831) 649-2870.

Citation: California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2019. Barred Sand Bass, Paralabrax nebulifer, Enhanced Status Report.

Contributor(s): Jean Davis and Miranda Haggerty (2019)

Barred Sand Bass Enhanced Status Report (2019)

Table of Contents
  1. The Species
    1. Natural History
      1. Species Description
      2. Range, Distribution, and Movement
      3. Reproduction, Fecundity, and Spawning Season
      4. Natural Mortality
      5. Individual Growth
      6. Size and Age at Maturity
    2. Population Status and Dynamics
      1. Abundance Estimates
      2. Age Structure of the Population
    3. Habitat
    4. Ecosystem Role
      1. Associated Species
      2. Predator-prey Interactions
    5. Effects of Changing Oceanic Conditions
  2. The Fishery
    1. Location of the Fishery
    2. Fishing Effort
      1. Number of Vessels and Participants Over Time
      2. Type, Amount, and Selectivity of Gear
    3. Landings in the Recreational and Commercial Sectors
      1. Recreational
      2. Commercial
    4. Social and Economic Factors Related to the Fishery
  3. Management
    1. Past and Current Management
      1. Overview and Rationale for the Current Management Framework
        1. Criteria to Identify When Fisheries Are Overfished or Subject to Overfishing, and Measures to Rebuild
        2. Past and Current Stakeholder Involvement
      2. Target Species
        1. Limitations on Fishing for Target Species
          1. Catch
          2. Effort
          3. Gear
          4. Time
          5. Sex
          6. Size
          7. Area
          8. Marine Protected Areas
        2. Description of and Rationale for Any Restricted Access Approach
      3. Bycatch
        1. Amount and Type of Bycatch (Including Discards)
        2. Assessment of Sustainability and Measures to Reduce Unacceptable Levels of Bycatch
      4. Habitat
        1. Description of Threats
        2. Measures to Minimize Any Adverse Effects on Habitat Caused by Fishing
    2. Requirements for Person or Vessel Permits and Reasonable Fees
  4. Monitoring and Essential Fishery Information
    1. Description of Relevant Essential Fishery Information
    2. Past and Ongoing Monitoring of the Fishery
      1. Fishery-dependent Data Collection
        Monitoring of Bycatch Rates
      2. Fishery-independent Data Collection
  5. Future Management Needs and Directions
    1. Identification of Information Gaps
    2. Research and Monitoring
      1. Potential Strategies to Fill Information Gaps
      2. Opportunities for Collaborative Fisheries Research
    3. Opportunities for Future
    4. Climate Readiness
List of Acronyms

CalCOFI: California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations
CCR: California Code of Regulations
CDFW: California Department of Fish and Wildlife
CPFV: Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel
CPUE: Catch Per Unit Effort
CRFS: California Recreational Fisheries Survey
DPUE: Discards Per Unit Effort
ENSO: El Niño Southern Oscillation
EFI: Essential Fishery Information
FGC: Fish and Game Code
FMP: Fishery Management Plan
IGFA: International Fish and Game Association
MLMA: Marine Life Management Act
MLS: Marine Logs System
MPA: Marine Protected Area
MRFSS: Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey
MSE: Management Strategy Evaluation
NGO: Non-Government Organization
NPGO: North Pacific Gyre Oscillation
PDO: Pacific Decadal Oscillation
RecFIN: Recreational Fisheries Information Network
SST: Sea Surface Temperature
TL: Total Length

List of Figures

Figure 1-1. Adult Barred Sand Bass in kelp forest habitat.

Figure 1-2. Range map for Barred Sand Bass.

Figure 1-3. Map of Barred Sand Bass tagging locations from historical studies by the Department (1960s and 1990s).  

Figure 1-4. Annual trends in juvenile (<25 cm TL prior to 1991 and <15 cm TL thereafter) and adult (>25 cm TL) Barred Sand Bass abundance at King Harbor, Redondo Beach, Los Angeles County from 1974 to 2016.

Figure 1-5. Age structure of harvested Barred Sand Bass from 1980 to 2017.

Figure 1-6. Annual variability in recruitment of “rock bass” (Barred Sand Bass, Kelp Bass and Spotted Sand Bass) based on quarterly plankton tows by California CalCOFI from 1951 to 2013.

Figure 2-1. Percent change in CPUE by fishing block during peak spawning season (June to August) for Barred Sand Bass between 2000 to 2004 and late 2005 to 2012.

Figure 2-2. Number of CPFV trips in southern California targeting Barred Sand Bass (at least one caught) each year from 1980 to 2017.

Figure 2-3. Proportion of the yearly landings of Barred Sand Bass by month in southern California.

Figure 2-4. Ranking of Barred Sand Bass at landings in southern California from 2004 to 2017.

Figure 2-5. CPUE (black line) and landings (harvested catch) (grey bars) for (A) rock bass (Barred Sand Bass, Kelp Bass and Spotted Sand Bass) retained on CPFV trips from 1947-1980, and (B) Barred Sand Bass retained by CPFVs from 1980 to 2017, and (C) private/rental boats from 2004 to 2017.

Figure 2-6. Annual commercial landings (lb) of sea basses (combined landings of Kelp Bass, Barred Sand Bass, and Spotted Sand Bass) from 1916 to 1953.

Figure 3-1. (A) Annual trends in the proportion of sublegal and legal Barred Sand Bass discarded from CPFVs and annual trends in bycatch of Barred Sand Bass presented as DPUE (black line) and the total number of discards (grey bars) for (B) CPFVs 1995 to 2017, and (C) private/rental boats 2004 to 2017.

List of Tables

Table 1-1. Barred Sand Bass associated and co-occurring species.

Table 2-1. Percent of Barred Sand Bass catch (retained fish) in the recreational fishery by fishing mode from 2004 to 2017.

Table 3-1. Historical record of southern California saltwater bass (Paralabraxspp.) minimum size and bag limit regulations.

Table 3-2. Number caught and percent of trips (frequency of occurrence) for the top ten incidental catch species on CPFV trips where at least one Barred Sand Bass was also caught in 2017.

Table 3-3. Number caught and percent of trips (frequency of occurrence) for species whose take is prohibited.

Table 5-1. Informational needs for Barred Sand Bass and their priority for management. 

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Young PH. 1969. The California Partyboat Fishery 1947–1967. Fish Bulletin 145:91.

Zedler JB. 1996. Coastal mitigation in southern California: the need for a regional restoration strategy. Ecological Applications 6: 84-93.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Marine Region (Region 7)

Regional Manager: Dr. Craig Shuman

Main Office: 20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Suite 100, Monterey, CA 93940

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