Please select your home edition
Edition
Marina Exchange 728x90 1

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

Second young dolphin disentangled off Florida
After suffering injuries from fishing line During a routine field survey in February, biologists from the Chicago Zoological Society's Sarasota Dolphin Research Program noticed the 2-year-old male dolphin looking underweight. Posted on 4 Apr
How science can help fisheries managers
To respond to climate change The Bering Sea ecosystem, which has experienced unprecedented changes in recent years, provides a real-world testing ground for a new strategy to help marine resource managers anticipate and respond to climate change. Posted on 4 Apr
NOAA and Partner Agencies welcome fish back
To Michigan Creek after Dam Removal As part of restoring the Kalamazoo River watershed from hazardous waste contamination, the Alcott Dam was removed from Portage Creek in Michigan, reopening the creek to fish and other wildlife. Posted on 29 Mar
Idaho plan safeguards wild steelhead, NOAA finds
NOAA fisheries has approved Idaho's plan under section 4(d) Rule NOAA Fisheries has determined that Idaho's Fishery Management and Evaluation Plan (FMEP) for their recreational steelhead fishery provides necessary protections for salmon and steelhead listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Posted on 21 Mar
West Coast waters grow more productive
The ocean off the West Coast is shifting from several years of unusually warm conditions The ocean off the West Coast is shifting from several years of unusually warm conditions marked by the marine heat wave known as the "warm blob," toward a cooler and more productive regime that may boost salmon returns Posted on 16 Mar
New measures to end shortfin mako overfishing
Amendment 11 to the Atlantic HMS fishery management plan outlines measures NOAA Fisheries this week implemented final measures to help end overfishing of the Atlantic shortfin mako shark stock while ensuring fishing opportunities for recreational and commercial fishermen. Posted on 8 Mar
Science Blog: Observer in the Pacific Islands
Observations of fish, birds, and life at sea in the Pacific Islands Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work as a fisheries observer? Spending weeks at sea, long hours identifying and measuring fish, and all the while braving the harsh and vast environment that is the open ocean? Posted on 2 Mar
Ocean acidification could affect Pacific Cod
Latest research reveals concerning findings Scientists released results of a study showing that larval Pacific cod response to elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) levels varies depending on its stage of development. Posted on 23 Feb
Mid-Atlantic boaters: Watch out for whales!
As large whales migrate along the Eastern Seaboard As large whales migrate along the Eastern Seaboard, remember to follow responsible wildlife viewing guidelines to keep everyone--whales and people-- safe! Posted on 9 Feb
Help wanted: Tropical Tuna Tagging Program
Studing key aspects of bigeye, skipjack, and yellowfin tuna The Atlantic Ocean Tropical Tuna Tagging Program (AOTTP) was established by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) in 2015 to study key aspects of bigeye, skipjack, and yellowfin tuna life history and movements. Posted on 9 Feb
Nanni Diesel 2019 FooterRaymarine AUS 2018 Aug - Axiom - FooterMarina Exchange FOOTER 1