Rockfish are bony fish in the Scorpaenid family, primarily in the genus Sebastes. Approximately 28 species of rockfish are reported from Puget Sound (Palsson et al. 2009), spanning a range of life-history types, habitats, and ecological niches. This diversity makes rockfish challenging to manage as a group and consequently, single-species management approaches have been recommended (Musick et al. 2000, Parker et al. 2000, Stout et al. 2001, Palsson et al. 2009, WDFW 2009). Rockfish in Pacific waters are among the most long-lived of teleost fishes and have low average annual reproductive success (Love et al. 2002). In combination, these characteristics make rockfish particularly susceptible to over-fishing. All of the rockfish in Puget Sound are classified as having Low or Very Low productivity according to definitions specified by the American Fisheries Society (AFS) (Musick 1999, Musick et al. 2000).
They rival tropical forests in their richness and diversity, but Puget Sound's kelp beds have declined steeply in recent decades. Scientists are just starting to understand the extent of these losses through mapping projects and consultations with local tribes. What they are finding is bringing kelp to the forefront of Puget Sound's environmental concerns.
Puget Sound's rockfish have declined by 70% over the past few decades, prompting state and federal protection efforts. We look at some of the ways that scientists are working to reverse the fish's downward trend.
Scientists are trying to learn how to restore Puget Sound’s diminishing kelp forests in an effort to stave off habitat loss for rockfish and other threatened species.
Foraging differences between male and female harbor seals present challenges for fisheries management
A 2015 article published in the Marine Ecology Progress Series identifies intraspecific differences in diet between harbor seals in the Salish Sea, suggesting implications for marine reserve management.
A 2015 paper in the journal Marine Policy examines surveys of Puget Sound anglers to provide baseline information related to rockfish conservation.
Spatial and Temporal Variation in River Otter (Lontra canadensis) Diet and Predation on Rockfish (Genus Sebastes) in the San Juan Islands, Washington
A 2014 paper in the journal Aquatic Mammals examines coastal river otter predation on rockfish at three islands in the Salish Sea.
A camera on board a remotely operated vehicle scans the floor of Puget Sound capturing digital video of underwater marine life. Selected clips of Plumose sea anemones, Pacific halibut, Pacific cod, Sea stars, and North Pacific spiny dogfish are now available for public viewing.
Proposed designation of critical habitat for the distinct population segments of Yelloweye Rockfish, Canary Rockfish, and Bocaccio
The National Marine Fisheries Service has released a Draft Biological Report proposing designation of critical habitat for yelloweye rockfish, canary rockfish, and bocaccio in the Salish Sea. Download the full report and supporting data.
Canadian and U.S. governments differ on special status for bocaccio in the Salish Sea.
There are at least 28 species of rockfish in the Salish Sea, but their populations have declined in the past several decades. The proceedings from a 2011 rockfish recovery workshop in Seattle are now available.