Threatened Yelloweye and Endangered Bocaccio in Puget Sound/Georgia Basin

Why is it important to recover rockfish listed under the Endangered Species Act?

Rockfish are important part of the food web. We do not yet understand the effects of their loss on the Puget Sound ecosystem and on species like salmon that eat larval rockfish. However, we know that actions we can take to recover rockfish, such as improving nearshore habitat, will also help other species in Puget Sound. The loss of rockfish is also a loss to the local economy and culture.

Draft Recovery Plan

The draft recovery plan can be found here, with appendices. There is also a factsheet with frequently asked questions.

If you have questions about the recovery planning process, please contact Dan Tonnes at:

Why have rockfish declined in Puget Sound and what regulations are in place now to protect them?

Most rockfish species do not reproduce until they are 5-20 years old, few of their young survive, and some rockfish species live to over 100 years old. These traits make them susceptible to overfishing. Historical overfishing, along with water and habitat degradation and other factors, lead to decline.

All rockfish species have decline by an estimated 70% in Puget Sound, and yelloweye, canary, and bocaccio have likely declined to an even greater extent.  

Washington State has closed many commercial fisheries that caught rockfish incidentally and there is no direct commercial harvest in Puget Sound. Recreationally, targeting or retaining any species of rockfish in Puget Sound waters east of Port Angeles is not allowed because it is difficult for many fishers to identify the species that are in decline from other species.

Recovery Planning

We have developed a Draft Recovery Plan and Implementation Appendices to recover yelloweye rockfish and bocaccio. It is a roadmap for recovery and consists of research and actions to restore listed species and their ecosystems. NMFS hopes to finalize the plan in 2017. In January 2017 we published a final rule removing Puget Sound/Georgia Basin canary rockfish from the Federal list of Threatened and Endangered species.

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