Learn how to improve the
of released rockfish
Did you know that some yelloweye rockfish that are here today were Washington residents before it became a state in 1889? They have been and continue to be an important part of our heritage.
Halibut and bottomfish fishing have also been a part of Washington’s culture for hundreds of years. Many generations of fishermen have relied on halibut and bottomfish for food and recreation.
A recent stock assessment indicates that the yelloweye rockfish population has declined over 80% from its initial level. As a result, immediate action must be taken if the stocks of these long-lived fish are to be rebuilt.
To rebuild yelloweye rockfish populations, the harvest opportunities for this species must be severely curtailed. In recent years, the Pacific Fishery Management Council has set yelloweye rockfish harvest levels for all commercial, recreational, and tribal fisheries combined for California, Oregon, and Washington of about 17 metric tons (mt). This number includes yelloweye rockfish that are discarded at sea.
The Washington recreational harvest target is about 2.7 mt (fewer than 1,000 fish) in coastal waters. To put this in perspective, in 2001, the Washington recreational fishery harvested 15 mt.
Yelloweye rockfish, in general, are harvested during the Washington recreational halibut fishery. If the yelloweye rockfish catch is projected to exceed 2.7 mt, then Pacific ocean waters adjacent to Washington outside 25 fathoms will be closed to recreational bottomfish fishing (including halibut).
If yelloweye rockfish cannot be avoided when anglers are targeting halibut, then we may have to close recreational halibut fishing in the future to protect yelloweye rockfish. Because the yelloweye rockfish stock may not be rebuilt for over 100 years, the problem of managing the yelloweye fishery will continue through our lifetime; however, you have the ability to help save the halibut fishery now and preserve the yelloweye resource for the future.
- Live to be 120 years old
- Range extends from Mexico to Alaska
- Found in deeper, rocky bottom areas
- Slow growing,low productive species
- Reddish-orange in color with bright yelloweye
- Commonly called "red snapper"
- Often spend their entire lifetime on one rockpile
- If you are participating in the recreational halibut or bottomfish fishery, please avoid areas that are known to have yelloweye rockfish.
- If you do accidentally catch a yelloweye, please return to the water s soon as possible.
- Help spread the word to others about the severity of the yelloweye rockfish depleted population and the possible consequences of not avoiding yelloweye areas
- If you do not know what areas may have yelloweye rockfish, please consult a local resort, motel, or charter office or other expert before fishing