Tomorrow we will be delivering shares rockfish caught by Paul Driscoll on the F/V Ace out of Ft. Bragg. These rockfish were caught using a vertical longlines. Rockfish are often referred to as “red snapper,” but they are indeed a species of rockfish and not a snapper. They live in a deep (usually over 400′) rocky environment. Eating-wise, they are mild and sweet, with a firm, large-flaked texture. They are very versatile in your kitchen, and can be sauteed, grilled, baked, or braised. All fish will be filleted and there will be no whole fish.
The rockfish fishery has been through a lot in recent years. Many rockfish species were declared overfished in 1999. Bycatch was a big concern for hook&line fishery as well as the trawl fishery. Habitat impacts with the trawl fishery also became a hot topic and large concern in certain areas. The result was an explosion of fishery management actions including Marine Protected Areas known as Rockfish Conservation Areas, prohibition of landing specific rockfish species, and most recently a catch share program, also known as Individual Tradable Quotas (ITQ) which is just like a carbon cap-and-trade program but for prohibited fish. In addition, any boats permitted to fish for groundfish, like rockfish, are required to have an onboard observer to monitor the catch of these vessels.
Furthermore, more attention has been payed to the trawl fishery, whose fishing is highly monitored and restricted to certain areas to protect highly vulnerable bottom habitats, and technological advancements are being made to reduce their impacts both for habitat and non-targeted species, to make all these fisheries sustainable, ecologically, economically, and socially. This is a lot of change in a short time, and it certainly took a lot of effort, and sacrifice by fishermen, policy makers, managers, scientists, coastal communities and us as fish lovers. All of these measures have made tremendous progress at recovering these species which are no longer experiencing overfishing, but on are the path to healthy stocks, according to scientists and managers at NOAA.
The equitability of these management actions is the hot topic these days. Who gets the rights to fish and to the fish? Is is a common resource or a privatizable commidity? The video I shared last week illustrates this issue.
All in all the west coast rockfish fishery is making vast improvements to the way things were less than 15 years ago. Here is an interesting article on some recent innovations for the trawl fishery up north off the Washington coast in collaboration with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and NOAA Fisheries.