Please select your home edition
Edition
Raymarine AUS Lighthouse 3 Annapolis 3.9 - TOP

West Coast groundfish resurgence brings new fishing opportunities

by NOAA Fisheries 15 Dec 2018 16:18 UTC
Yelloweye rockfish © NOAA Fisheries

The successful rebuilding of several West Coast groundfish stocks that declined precipitously nearly three decades ago is now opening the way for increasing recreational and commercial fishing opportunities for many of the West Coast's most delicious and nutritious fish species.

NOAA Fisheries' West Coast Region published a new rule this week that increases catch limits and eases fishing restrictions for many West Coast groundfish, including rockfish, such as Pacific Ocean perch; flatfish, such as petrale sole; and roundfish, such as Pacific cod and sablefish. Groundfish represent one of the West Coast's most important recreational and commercial fisheries, earning some $140 million annually for commercial fishermen who catch them with a variety of gear, including trawls, longlines, pots (traps), and baited hooks.

West Coast communities will see an increase of about 900 jobs and $60 million in income in 2019, according to an economic analysis of the new harvest rule. Recreational anglers will take about 219,000 more fishing trips, most of them in southern California with some in Oregon and Washington.

The collapse of several West Coast groundfish in the late 1990s led to severe fishing cutbacks so these stocks could rebuild, greatly curtailing a mainstay of the coastal economy. The groundfish fleet had to limit fishing even for the other more abundant groundfish stocks to avoid unintentional catch of the overfished stocks.

Through careful science-based management and collaboration among fishermen, the Pacific Fishery Management Council, tribes, West Coast states, and NOAA Fisheries, many stocks, including canary rockfish, bocaccio, darkblotched rockfish, and Pacific Ocean perch, rebounded faster than expected and are now fully rebuilt. Research and stock assessments by NOAA Fisheries' Northwest and Southwest Fisheries Science Centers documented the resurgence, opening the way for more harvest opportunities. Others, such as cowcod and yelloweye rockfish, have been found to be rebuilding much faster than anticipated.

Those continued collaborative and scientific efforts made higher annual catch limits possible for many groundfish species for 2019 and 2020. This will increase recreational and commercial fishing for bocaccio, darkblotched rockfish, Pacific Ocean perch, lingcod north of the California/Oregon border, and California scorpionfish. The new rule also reduces depth restrictions for recreational fishing and increases trip limits for fixed-gear fishermen.

The changes are expected to boost commercial and recreational fishing revenues, with sport anglers expected to take thousands more fishing trips off the West Coast as a result. Their spending on motels, meals, charter trips, and more is expected to boost recreational fishing income coast-wide by about $55 million, with the largest increases in California.

The harvest rule changes also promote quota trading among fishermen in the Shore-based Individual Fishing Quota Program, also known as the Groundfish Catch Share Program, which will help them make the most of the new fishing opportunities. The changes will also allow increased catches of underutilized species, such as yellowtail rockfish, lingcod, chilipepper rockfish, and Pacific cod.

Although the bycatch of Chinook salmon in the groundfish fishery is low and is expected to remain low, this new rule adds tools for NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific Fishery Management Council to respond quickly to address any unexpected changes in the amount of bycatch.

All of this good news for fishermen is also good news for fans of healthy and delicious fish. Groundfish provide lean protein and are a good source of omega-3s. West Coast groundfish, including Dover sole, sablefish, and lingcod are versatile fish available year-round that lend themselves well to a variety of preparations.

For more information:

Related Articles

California vintner steps up to protect salmon
A vintner in Northern California is upgrading a concrete fish barrier A cooperative "Safe Harbor" agreement between the landowner Barbara Banke, Chairman and proprietor of Jackson Family Wines, and NOAA Fisheries and other state and local agencies has fostered the improvements. Posted on 11 Jul
Skokomish River restoration helps fish return home
Reopening abandoned agricultural land back to nature will allow fish to access their habitats For decades, human activity blocked salmon, steelhead, and other species from accessing their habitat in Washington's Skokomish River estuary. In recent years, a collaborative partnership has been working to restore this vital habitat. Posted on 6 Jul
New indicators may help manage global overfishing
Scientists and resource managers need to focus on the whole ecosystem The smallest plants and creatures in the ocean power entire food webs, including the fish that much of the world's population depends on for food, work and cultural identity. Posted on 29 Jun
Status of Coral Reef Fishes in Guam
Researchers assessed the stock status of 12 Guam reef fish species The longface emperor gets its name from its distinctive elongated head. Large emperors like this one are known as "lililok" in the indigeneous Chamorro language of the Mariana Islands. Posted on 27 Jun
Saildrone set to track Alaska red king crab
Very little is known about how recent environmental variability drives crab seasonal movements Fishing industry and researchers team up to track red king crab seasonal movements to provide data vital to keeping the Bristol Bay fishery sustainable in a changing climate. Posted on 16 Jun
NOAA Fisheries supports youth angler engagement
Youth introduced to fishing opportunities & sustainability at events About a dozen youth anglers in Alaska's Bristol Bay region are hard at work this week learning about fish habitat, fishery science, resource management, ecology, and land use conservation. Posted on 13 Jun
National Fishing and Boating Week 2019
Engaging with recreational anglers is a top priority To kick off National Fishing and Boating Week 2019, NOAA Fisheries is releasing six region-specific saltwater recreational fisheries engagement plans highlighting where and how our agency will be working to better engage fishermen. Posted on 10 Jun
10 reasons king crabs rule
Red king crab support important commercial fisheries off Alaska Learn more about the role of red king crab in Alaska. Posted on 25 May
Southern California's forgotten treasures
Southern steelhead, white and black abalone are iconic to southern California history and culture The remnants of endangered Southern steelhead trout, white abalone and black abalone populations have dwindled from overharvesting and habitat degradation. They're so rare that they have become forgotten coastal treasures. Posted on 16 May
Tagging reveals secrets of largest sharks
Little known about basking shark's habitat, behavior, and migratory patterns NOAA Fisheries researchers are now seeking to unravel the mysteries of basking sharks by tagging them with satellite transmitters that will reveal their movements and behavior as they roam the waters around Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Posted on 16 May
Raymarine AUS Lighthouse 3 Annapolis 3.9 - BOTTOMMarina Exchange FOOTER 1Nanni Diesel 2019 Footer