IUCN Red List: Bocaccio Rockfish (Canada – critically endangered)
March 10, 2016 ~2PM (JST) Edited: March 24, 2016 11:29AM (JP)
Bocaccio Rockfish (Sebastes paucispinis), listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List in 1996, is often recognized as belonging to other groups of rockfish that includes some species that are not listed as critically endangered. On the market (i.e. Pacific Seafood), Bocaccio Rockfish can be classified as Pacific Red Snapper, Pacific Snapper, Oregon Red Snapper, or Oregon Snapper, depending on where this fish is fished or sold. They are also known as Longjaws, Rocksalmon, or Salmon Rockfish to commercial and recreational fishermen. If you see these names in the market, be sure to keep in mind that the fish can be identified as a Bocaccio Rockfish and encourage others to know this fact. It is important to raise the concern and formulate solutions to conserve the species.
Bocaccio Rockfish lives in the northern Pacific Coast including Washington and Oregon states. In Canada, they live in Puget Sound and Georgia Straight in British Columbia. These areas are designated as critical habitat by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These rockfish usually live in the water depth of 60 – 340m. The younger they are, they frequent the shallower water. This makes them vulnerable to be caught by fishermen.
The number of Bocaccio Rockfish has been decreased from 1980 to 2000, at a rate of about 95% on the west side of Vancouver Island, mainly due to overfishing. They are often caught by commercial fishers applying method of trawling along with other major fish species such as salmon and halibut. Unlike these fish species, however, Bocaccio Rockfish rarely survive after being caught and released due to the fact that their swim bladder cannot adapt to rapid pressure change. Younger fish are more vulnerable to be caught because they prefer surface water and this makes them more susceptible to being caught because recreational anglers target more often on groundfish and this often goes unreported. Bocaccio Rockfish can live up to 50 years which means that it is difficult for them to grow old and sustain ideal population. Female mature rockfish lay eggs and raise juveniles within their bodies. Unaware that these fish are pregnant and raising juveniles at same time, fishers can make significant impact on the population of this fish
To avoid to catch these rockfish at the most vulnerable time of the year as mentioned, fishers and anglers should be able to identify the fish species and report, as mentioned in this piece. They need to be aware of such area – they should keep the fish if they catch the fish and relocate to a different area. They should indeed report the catch, indicating catch location, depth, and size of the fish. Vancouver Aquarium in Vancouver, BC, Canada, is one of the examples where the public can be notified about protecting Bocaccio Rockfish, as well as other rockfish species. Young Canadians can volunteer and raise their voice to the Vancouver Aquarium and other NPOs and help the public, especially rockfish consumers and fishery industry about the importance of rockfish. Young people are the key to the future, where they also have the empowerment to engage the connection between the young and the old.