NOAA rejects petition to list tiger rockfish and China rockfish
75 Fed. Reg. 52929 / Monday, August 30, 2010 / Notices
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Docket No. 100813341–0341–01 / RIN 0648–XX56
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Notice of 90–Day Finding for a Petition to List Georgia Basin Populations of China Rockfish and Tiger Rockfish as Endangered or Threatened
SUMMARY: We (NMFS) received a petition to list Georgia Basin populations of China rockfish (Sebastes nebulosus) and tiger rockfish (S. nigrocinctus) as endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We determine that the petition does not present substantial evidence to indicate that the petitioned action may be warranted.
Tiger rockfish are solitary, sometimes territorial, and are known to prey upon caridean shrimp, crabs (particularly rock crabs), amphipods and small fishes like herring and juvenile rockfish in the Gulf of Alaska . This species is a generalized feeder that depends on currents bringing food items near its home territory -- often associated with "wall" habitat.. Tiger rockfish are commonly found in caves along undersea cliffs or on the sea floor, generally in high relief areas with strong currents. Photo from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center.
EXCERPT: The petition points to the fact that there are few observations of China rockfish and tiger rockfish in these surveys. The petition provides no analysis to explain how these surveys can be interpreted to indicate either a low abundance level or a declining trend in abundance, either of which might be evidence of risk to the species. To the contrary, the petitioner acknowledges that adults of these two species tend to remain hidden in rocky habitats, which could make them difficult for SCUBA divers to observe... We agree with the petitioner’s assertion that China rockfish and tiger rockfish typically utilize a small home range and experience low productivity. However, as the petitioner acknowledges, a small home range causes individuals to remain hidden in rocky habitat, where they may experience lower mortality, as a result of less frequent exposure to predators. Low productivity can be a risk factor in some instances. However, low productivity is not an indication of declining abundance (another risk factor) since it reflects a life history trade-off between fecundity and life span.