Threatened Yelloweye and Endangered Bocaccio in Puget Sound/Georgia Basin

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

Yelloweye rockfish and bocaccio were once part of a vibrant recreational and commercial groundfish fishery in Puget Sound, and like all rockfish species, are an important part of the food web. For instance, larval rockfish are eaten by juvenile salmon and other marine fish and seabirds. Thus actions to support rockfish recovery would also benefit the Puget Sound ecosystem. 

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: Dan.Tonnes@noaa.gov.

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

Rockfish are vulnerable to overfishing because many species do not begin to reproduce until they are 5-20 years old, and very few of their young survive to adulthood. In addition, yelloweye rockfish can live over 100 years, and bocaccio over 50 years. These traits make them susceptible to overfishing and habitat degradation.

Washington State has closed many commercial fisheries that caught rockfish incidentally and there is no direct commercial harvest of them in Puget Sound. Recreationally, targeting or retaining any species of rockfish in Puget Sound waters east of Port Angeles is not allowed.

What else is happening to support rockfish recovery?

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 ecosystem. NMFS hopes to finalize the plan in 2017. 

Through work with our partners, we’ve supported a number of rockfish recovery actions including derelict fishing gear surveys and prevention efforts, the distribution of descending devices to recreational anglers, unique habitat and fish surveys, and the development of outreach materials. 

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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