Shrinking giant: rockfish research tells a story

Rockfish montage

There are 36 species of rockfish off the coast of British Columbia, Canada.

Preying on smaller fish, growing, every year: some species of rockfish can live to be 100...: even 200 years old.

The First Nations of the Central Coast have harvested rockfish for many thousands of year.

Through the centuries, Indigenous peoples have engaged in a continuum of sustainable environmental stewardship... something that is now called "Ecosystems-based management" or E.B.M.

The average age of yelloweye rockfish has been falling - by ten months each year, at least since 2003: this means the average fish is getting younger and smaller: decline in yelloweye rockfish size was first noticed by Indigenous Central Coast Fishers in the 1980s: 35 years ago.

This is especially troublesome, because it is the older and larger fish that are more fertile: the older and larger the fish, the higher number of young they have every year!

The decline corresponds with the rapid rise of commercial fishing operations that were taking in huge, indiscriminate catches. From the 1970s to 1990s, rockfish experienced rapid declines in population.

Halibut and sablefish fisheries often caught older, larger rockfish as bycatch... only to be discarded.

It is time that the world heard us. The Heiltsuk, The Wuikinuxv, The Nuxalk, The Kitasoo / Xai'Xais. Together, we are the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance (or CCIRA, for short).

We use traditional knowledge and science to push for sustainable environmental policies that protect our Indigenous Rights. To support CCIRA, click here to like us on Facebook. (And you can invite others to join you by sharing this comic!)

Want to know more about our rockfish research and its ties to our Indigenous rights? Check out our Reports page to see our published scientific papers.

Comic by Nicole Burton.

Similar Posts