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WA/OR/CA Sablefish Pot Fishery

Current Classification on 2017 LOF

Category II
Estimated Number of Participants 309
Target Species Sablefish
Applicable Take Reduction Plans N/A
Observer Coverage None
Marine Mammal Species/Stocks Killed or Injured Humpback whale, CA/OR/WA 1

^ Number of participants estimates are based on state and federal fisheries permit data.  The estimated number of participants is expressed in terms of the number of active participants in the fishery, when possible.  If this information is not available, the estimated number of vessels or persons licensed for a particular fishery is provided.  If no recent information is available on the number of participants, then the number from the most recent LOF is used.  NMFS acknowledges that, in some cases, these estimations may be inflating actual effort.  

*Observer coverage levels include the latest information reported in the most current final Stock Assessment Report (SAR)

1 Indicates the stock or species is driving the classification of the fishery 

Note: Current classification based on final LOF, no proposed changes are reflected in this table.

Basis for Current Classification

The mean annual mortality and serious injury of humpback whales (CA/OR/WA stock) is greater than 1% and less than 50% of the stock’s Potential Biological Removal (PBR) level. 


The fishery operates year round and effort varies from southern CA to the Canadian border. The limited entry fishery is open from April 1–October 31, while open access is available year-round.

Gear Description

This fishery sets gear in waters past the 100 fathom curve off the West coast of the U.S. In CA, gear is set outside 150 fathoms, with an average depth of 190 fathoms.  There are two separate  trap fisheries, open access and limited entry, and both have quotas.  Open access fishers will usually fish 1 to 8 strings of 3–4 pots, each with a float line and buoy stick. The gear sometimes soaks for long periods. Fishers in the limited entry fishery will normally fish 20–30 pot strings.  As with most pot gear fished out in deeper waters sablefish traps are set in strings of multiple traps.


This fishery is managed under regulations implementing the West Coast Groundfish FMP developed by Pacific Fishery Management Council.  Access to the limited entry fishery is granted under a limited entry permit system, in addition to gear endorsements required by the individual states. Open access privileges are currently available to any fisherman with the requisite state gear endorsement, but catch quotas and area closures are more restrictive than the primary limited entry permit. Open access quotas vary based upon the area being fished.  Limited entry permits are tiered based on the annual cumulative landings allowed by each permit. Permits are transferable, but the tier category remains fixed. Up to three limited entry permits may be stacked on a single vessel.


Historical Information

Original Category (Year added to the LOF) III (1996)
Original Number of Participants 155
Basis for Original Classification This fishery was added to the LOF because of its known existence.  However, there were no observer, logbook, or stranding data available at the time of its addition to the LOF.
Past Names N/A
Species/stocks historically documented as killed or injured (but not currently on the list) N/A


Timeline of Changes

  • Estimated number of participants updated from 155 to 309.
  • Elevated from Category III to Category II based on an entanglement of a humpback whale (CA/OR/WA) in 2006.  This single humpback whale interaction equals a mean annual mortality and serious injury level of 0.2 animals/year, or 8% of the stock’s PBR (PBR=2.5).
  • Added humpback whale (CA/OR/WA) to the list of species/stocks killed/injured based on a serious injury in 2006 resulting in an annual mortality and serious injury level of 8% of PBR.  A superscript “1” listed after this stock to indicate that takes of this stock are driving the classification of the fishery.
  • Updated the estimated number of vessels/participants 176 to 155 (32 of which there are limited access permits).


Updated January 14, 2017