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Home Range Migratory Patterns:
Ocean whitefish are reported to range from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Peru and
possibly Chile, and in the vicinity of the Galapagos Islands. Off California, ocean
whitefish seldom occur north of Point Conception, Santa Barbara County. Ocean
whitefish inhabit shallow waters over rocky-bottom and kelp-bed habitats from near
the surface to a depth of 450 feet. Loosely aggregated schools of adults often are
found at depths of 10 to 65 feet. Adults swim a few feet above the bottom, dropping
down occasionally to the substrate to feed. Ocean whitefish are more abundant
around offshore islands and banks than along the mainland coast.
Ocean whitefish are not known to be a migratory species. However, ocean whitefish
eggs, larvae, and juveniles stages may be carried significant distances along the
California and Baja California coasts by nearshore current systems. These currents
carry the pelagic stages of ocean whitefish northward into areas where they are not
normally resident, and may eventually produce outlying “colonies” of adult ocean
whitefish. These fish may thrive and grow in the cooler northern waters, but their
reproductive success may be greatly inhibited by the existing oceanic conditions.
There are no specific regulations for the commercial take of ocean whitefish. Ocean
whitefish may not be taken or possessed while recreational fishing in waters 20
fathoms or greater in depth in the southern rockfish and lingcod management area
during a southern rockfish and lingcod closure from November to January, and in
waters 20 fathoms or greater in depth in the Cowcod Conservation Areas (two large
areas south of Pt. Conception).
Ocean whitefish are governed by the general 10-fish daily bag and possession limit.
All fillets shall be a minimum of six and one-half inches in length. Each fillet shall
bear a one-inch square patch of skin. There is no recreational size limit.