Rockfish Management and Recovery: What's in it For the Rest of the Ecosystem?

Rockfish (Sebastes spp.) are widely distributed throughout the NE Pacific and the genus consists of at least 72 species.  They also constitute a substantial portion of the federally managed commercial groundfish harvest off the West Coast and are prized by recreational fishers throughout their range.  Their longevity (exceeding 100 years for some species), low fecundity, slow growth, sporadic recruitment success, long-term site fidelity, and co-occurrence with other sought-after species complicates management of these species and can often limit fishing opportunities for other commercially valuable fishes. Some West Coast rockfish species have been given an overfished designation under federal law, and in the Puget Sound and Georgia Basin three species have been listed under the Endangered Species Act. Thus far, fishery management actions aimed at rockfish recovery have primarily involved increasingly restrictive area closures and allowable catches.  Improvements in artificial propagation methods have occurred in recent years, and stock enhancement via release of cultured rockfish is being considered as a recovery strategy for some species. Emerging fishery-independent research, much of it employing non-consumptive visual survey methods, has advanced the management of fisheries, especially in data-limited situations, and their impact on local ecology and links to other species via the food web.
Robert Pacunski and Kelly Andrews
Dayv Lowry, Shawn Larson, Joan Drinkwin, Robert Pacunski, Dan Tonnes, Caroline Gibson, Kyle Antonelis and Larry Leclair
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