The California Department of Fish and Game has announced the Marine Region's release of the draft Master Plan for public review and comment. The Master Plan will guide the agency in developing management plans for the state's ocean fisheries.

The Master Plan, as required by the Marine Life Management Act, must identify the resources needed to prepare and adopt Fishery Management Plans and to list fisheries in order of priority for preparing those plans.

The draft Master Plan is available on the DFG's website at, with other related information. Printed copies may be reviewed at Fish and Game offices along the coast, or by calling (831) 649-2870.

The Master Plan will be finalized and submitted to the California Fish and Game Commission on Aug. 23.

The Master Plan includes a prioritized list of fisheries in need of FMPs, a description of the essential fishery information needed to effectively manage the top priority fisheries, and a process for how the public may be involved in developing fishery management and research plans.

"Public input is important in this process. The Master Plan will be the road map for how California will provide stewardship for marine life, including economically important fisheries," said Patricia Wolf, regional manager for the Marine Region.

Development of the Master Plan has been under way since April 2000 and has been a collaborative effort between DFG staff and representatives of the recreational and commercial fishing industries, the environmental and conservation community, and members of the academic community.

The MLMA, which became law in 1999, sets the state's policy for marine fisheries and applies not only to fish and shellfish taken by commercial and recreational fishermen, but to all marine wildlife. Under the MLMA, both commercial and recreational fisheries will be managed to assure the long-term and economic, recreational, cultural and social benefits of the fisheries and the marine habitats upon which they depend.

Within the overall policy on marine living resources, the DFG was given authority to prepare, and the Fish and Game Commission was given authority to adopt, a Master Plan that prioritizes fisheries according to need for comprehensive management through FMPs.