Puget Sound Rockfish
Rockfish comprise at least 28 of the more than 200 species of fish in the Salish Sea. We listed Puget Sound yelloweye and canary rockfish and bocaccio under the Endangered Species Act in 2010. The state of Washington listed several additional species as species of concern.
Rockfish have a remarkable life history. They are born as free-swimming planktonic larvae, and remain in open waters for several months before they settle to the seafloor as juveniles. Juveniles of many species settle to nearshore habitats, particularly near kelp. As they grow, rockfish subadults move to deeper waters. Adults of many species hang out near rocks, but will make homes in other seafloor structures such as sunken logs, crevices, and shipwrecks. Adults of some rockfish species have fairly small home ranges, while others are known to move long distances.
Most rockfish species do not become reproductively mature until they are 5-20 years old, and some individuals can live for as long as 100 years. Females release several thousand to more than one million eggs annually, though the egg survival rate is extremely low.
Long lives and low reproductive survival, along with over-harvesting and degraded habitats, have resulted in declines of many populations of rockfish species in the Salish Sea. Washington State has closed many commercial fisheries that caught rockfish. Some remaining threats to rockfish include derelict fishing gear, bycatch from other fisheries, accumulation of toxins and degraded water quality, and destruction of nearshore habitats.
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