NMFS evaluating need to list five species of rockfish
73 Fed. Reg. 14195 (Mar. 17, 2008)( NOAA Fisheries; Listing Endangered and Threatened Species and Designating Critical Habitat: Notice of Finding on a Petition to List Five Rockfish Species in Puget Sound (Washington) as Endangered or Threatened Species Under the Endangered Species Act)
Yelloweye Rockfish photo from NMFS
SUMMARY: On October 29, 2007, we, NMFS, received new information and a request to reconsider our ‘‘not warranted’’ finding on a petition submitted in April 2007 to list bocaccio (Sebastes paucispinis), canary rockfish (S. pinniger), yelloweye rockfish (S. ruberrimus), greenstripe rockfish (S. elongatus) and redstripe rockfish (S. proriger) in Puget Sound (Washington) as endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We consider this a new petition and find that this new petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted. Accordingly, we are initiating a status review of these five rockfish species. To ensure that the status review is complete and based upon the best available scientific and commercial information, we are soliciting information regarding the population structure and status of these rockfish species. Information and comments on the subject action must be received by May 16, 2008.
MORE EXCERPTS FROM THE FEDERAL REGISTER:
Distribution and Life-History Traits of Rockfishes. Rockfishes are a diverse group of marine fishes (about one hundred and two species worldwide and at least seventy-two species in the northeastern Pacific (Kendall, 1991)), and are among the most common benthic fish on the Pacific coast of North America (Love et al., 2002). Adult rockfish can be the most abundant fish in various coastal benthic habitats such as relatively shallow subtidal kelp forests, rocky reefs, and rocky outcrops in submarine canyons at depths greater than 980 feet (300 m) (Yoklavich, 1998). The life history of rockfish is different than that of most other bony fishes. Whereas most bony fishes fertilize their eggs externally, fertilization and embryo development in rockfishes is internal, and female rockfish give birth to live larval young. Larvae are found in surface waters, and may be distributed over a wide area extending several hundred miles several hundred kilometers) offshore (Love et al., 2002). Larvae and small juvenile rockfish may remain in open waters for several months being passively dispersed by ocean currents... New recruits may be found in tide pool habitats, and shallow coastal waters associated with rocky bottoms and algae.. Juvenile and
subadults may be more common than adults in shallow water, and are associated with rocky reefs, kelp canopies, and artificial structures such as piers and oil platforms.... Adults generally move into deeper water as they increase in size and age, but generally exhibit strong site fidelity to rocky bottoms and outrcrops... Adults eat demersal invertebrates and small fishes, including other species of rockfish, associated with kelp beds, rocky reefs, pinnacles, and sharp dropoffs.... Many species of rockfishes are slow-growing, long-lived (50–140 years), and mature at older ages (6–12 yrs)...
Information Regarding the Extinction Risk of the Five Rockfish Species in Puget Sound... During the 12–year period for which there is recreational fishery data, anglers began to directly target rockfish species to compensate for the reduced availability of salmonids for harvest, and anglers were also able to target rockfish aggregations more efficiently and at much greater depths due to rapid advances in fish-finding technology... The fishery effort and catch per unit effort data support the petitioner’s conclusions that the recreational catch data reflect severe declines in stock abundance for bocaccio, redstripe rockfish, and greenstripe rockfish, and that increasing fishery effort and efficiency over the time period likely masked declines in stock abundance for canary rockfish and yelloweye rockfish. Finally, the petitioner concludes that the observed declining trends in the recreational catch data cannot be explained by a reduction in catch due to changing fishery regulations. Changes in rockfish catch regulations (e.g., reductions in the daily bag limit) and large scale closures in salmonid fisheries in which rockfish are taken as bycatch did not occur until 1994, well after the period covered by the recreational catch data (1975–1986). Based on the supplemental information, the petitioner concludes that the most parsimonious explanation for the observed trends in the recreational catch data is that they reflect actual declines in the abundance of the five petitioned species in Puget Sound.