Rockfish conservation study

The summer of 2013 CCIRA started working with biologist Alejandro Frid, conducting ecological research in our traditional territories. Together, CCIRA and Alejandro are using dive surveys and hook-and-line sampling to assess the conservation status of lingcod and various species of rockfish given different levels of protection and fishing pressure.

Rockfish conservation is particularly challenging because most species are long-lived and slow reproducing, yet are targeted by sports and commercial fisheries. Both lingcod and rockfish are also culturally and economically important to our Nations.

The project is utilizing non-destructive catch and release sampling that includes returning species to depth-of-capture using ‘descenders’. Descenders allow the rockfish to recover from the change in barometric pressure that results from being brought to the surface from the ocean bottom. Other studies have demonstrated that descenders are a safe and effective way to catch and release rockfish.

Because fishing tends to remove the largest individuals within a species, measuring body size is fundamental to understanding fishing impacts. The study will also look at broader ecosystem concerns to determine how lingcod and rockfish populations impact other rocky reef species populations and the overall health of the ecosystem. The results of the project will inform First Nations’ marine use planning and fisheries management.

Ernie Mason of the Kitasoo/Xai'Xais Nation weighing a Yelloweye rockfish
Ernie Mason weighing a Yelloweye rockfish
Photo Credit: Alejandro Frid