Fishery & Gear

The coastal pelagic fishery is a multi-species fishery with fisherman typically switching between various coastal pelagic species (and to a small degree bonito, tunas, and other species) depending on market conditions, availability of the stock to the fleet (i.e. distance offshore) and relative abundance levels. The fishery primarily operates off southern and central California, however a large sardine fishery currently occurs in the waters off Oregon and Washington.

Coastal pelagic species are primarily caught using "round haul" gear such as purse seine nets, drum seines, lampara nets, and dip nets. A typical purse seine net measures 185 fathoms long, 22 fathoms deep, and 1,600 meshes deep with 1 1/4 inch mesh. In California, some present day coastal pelagic vessels are remnants of the same fleet from the 1930's and 1940's. Coastal pelagic finfish landed by this small purse seine fleet (fishing primarily with purse seine or lampara nets) are sold around the world in several product forms. For example, pacific mackerel are typically sold to Asian and European, middle Eastern, and Baltic markets for human consumption. Sardine are exported largely for canning for human consumption, high value table consumption products, and long-line bait. Increasingly, a lower percentage ( less than 5%) of coastal pelagic species are sold as pet food or tuna feed.

The major West Coast processors and buyers of coastal pelagic finfish are generally located among six ports in three main fishing areas: southern California ( San Pedro/Terminal Island and Ventura), central California (Monterey and Moss Landing), and Pacific Northwest/Columbia River area (Astoria Oregon and Westport Washington). Fishing takes place near these ports with essentially no fishing taking place between San Francisco and the Columbia River/Astoria Oregon. The ex-vessel markets for market squid are mainly in the Los Angeles, Santa Barbara-Ventura, and Monterey port areas. Today the U.S. fishery consists of fisherman and processors.


For more information contact on Coastal Pelagic Species, contact Joshua Lindsay, at or 562.980.4034.
For more information or questions on permits, contact our Permits Coordinator at 562.980.4024.