Canary rockfish

Scott Heppell, David Sampson

Latin name: Sebastes pinniger

Canary rockfish, a long-lived, slow growing fish in the genus Sebastes, was declared overfished in 2000. Of particular concern with regard to population assessments was a strong sex ratio skew towards males, especially in the older age groups. Work led by Dr. David Sampson showed that while there may be a biological basis for the skew, it was also possible that the difference was due to the non-random sampling strategy used to collect data. Canary rockfish were declared "rebuilt" in 2015. - David Sampson

Canary rockfish, Sebastes pinniger, is a bottom oriented, schooling species that has been the object of bottom trawl fishing on the US West Coast since at least World War II. The older age classes tend to be dominated by males, at least for fish caught with bottom trawl gear. This apparent divergence from a one-to-one sex ratio in the older age classes has been a source of considerable uncertainty in stock assessments for canary rockfish. The canary rockfish project resulted from a fishing industry request to develop alternative methods for sampling commercially this important rockfish species. We sampled canary rockfish using hook-and-line methods in untrawlable, high relief locations off Washington, Oregon, and California. Our results imply that the older age-classes are dominated by females, contrary to results from the bottom trawl surveys. This indicates that additional work is needed to determine whether increased mortality or habitat segregation explains this pattern. - Scott Heppell

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