Yelloweye rockfish (PDF)(opens in new tab) is a federally designated "overfished" species, which means that less than 25 percent of its estimated pre-fishery population now exists. Copper and quillback rockfishes were assessed off California in 2021, and while their status is not yet determined, these populations were found to be significantly depleted. Each year, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) sets harvest limits for all stocks, including overfished species, based on the respective stock assessments, rebuilding plans, and harvest control rules. For stocks with depleted populations, harvest limits are further reduced to allow for quicker rebuilding.
CDFW has two challenging and somewhat competing goals to meet every year: 1) ensure that harvest limits for all species are not exceeded, and 2) allow groundfish fishing opportunities for the public.
Anglers can help reduce the total harvest of yelloweye, copper, and quillback rockfishes and increase fishing opportunities by: properly handling fish that are to be released, accurately reporting catches and encounters to samplers, abiding by all fishing regulations, and being able to distinguish species of concern. Misidentifications, such as yelloweye rockfish being mistaken for "healthy" species like vermilion rockfish, also lead to a higher estimated bycatch mortality of this species.
Minimizing fishery mortality on these stocks of concern is needed so that fishing opportunities on healthy stocks may continue, and you can do your part to help. By understanding the information and following the guidelines contained in the following resources, recreational anglers can help ensure future fishing opportunities.
- Nearshore Rockfish of California
This flyer lists identifying features that can be used to differentiate between nearshore rockfish species listed in California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 1.91(a)(1)
- Yellowtail Rockfish, Olive Rockfish, and Widow Rockfish ID Flyer
This flyer lists identifying features that can be used to differentiate between yellowtail rockfish, olive rockfish, and widow rockfish.
- Yelloweye Rockfish, Vermilion Rockfish, and Canary Rockfish ID Flyer
This flyer lists identifying features that can be used to differentiate between yelloweye rockfish, vermilion rockfish, and canary rockfish.
- Copper Rockfish, Gopher Rockfish, and Canary Rockfish ID Flyer
This flyer lists identifying features that can be used to differentiate between copper rockfish, gopher rockfish, and canary rockfish.
- Quillback Rockfish, China Rockfish, and Black-and-Yellow Rockfish ID Flyer
This flyer lists identifying features that can be used to differentiate between quillback rockfish, China rockfish, and black-and-yellow rockfish.
- Rockfish and Barotrauma: Bring That Rockfish Down!
A brochure with tips and techniques for successfully releasing rockfish suffering barotrauma injuries.