Yelloweye Rockfish Management and Research
For management purposes yelloweye are classified as a non-pelagic rockfish species. Non-pelagic rockfish species are managed with special consideration as a result of their life history, preferred habitat, and fishing vulnerability. Under sport fishing regulations rockfish species are divided into two categories: pelagic and non-pelagic. Each group has specific bag limits and restrictions to account for the different characteristics of each species groups.
There are a variety of tools that are used by managers to monitor yelloweye populations and estimate human induced exploitation (you can read more about these under the research tab). As research continues to contribute to our understanding of yelloweye, managers will use the best scientific information available to manage this species. Because yelloweye are included among federally managed groundfish species, the management of yelloweye consists of a composite of federal and state authority.
Recreational fisheries, including those involving yelloweye, are managed by the State of Alaska both in state waters (0-3 miles from shore) and within the Exclusive Economic Zone (3-200 miles from shore). Commercial fisheries are managed by the State of Alaska within state waters and by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (a federal entity) within the Exclusive Economic Zone. In southeast Alaska, the State of Alaska manages the commercial yelloweye fishery as part of the federal demersal shelf rockfish assemblage with oversight from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.
While the Alaska Department of Fish and Game provides management and conducts research, the Alaska Board of Fisheries is given the responsibility to establish regulations including the distribution of benefits among subsistence, commercial, recreational and personal use user groups. In this way, responsibilities are divided between these two state entities in order to manage Alaska’s fisheries for the maximum benefit of the people of the state, under the sustained yield principle.
Research projects are taking place around the state of Alaska, which seek to enhance our understanding of yelloweye and other species of rockfish. These projects will aid us in the management of yelloweye as we grow to understand more about their habitat, life history, and monitor harvest levels.
A stock assessment for demersal shelf rockfish (including yelloweye) is published annually for the southeast outside area in conjunction with the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council. This report details: population trends, harvest information, surveying methods, estimated exploitable biomass and other information applicable to the management of yelloweye. For this assessment, a manned submersible is used to perform line transect surveys and directly observe yelloweye density. The density estimates are then applied to available habitat data (established by habitat mapping) in order to estimate abundance. In southcentral Alaska, remote operated vehicles have been used to perform similar transects to estimate yelloweye densities. As the quantity and accuracy of habitat mapping increases biologists will be better prepared to monitor the abundance of yelloweye and other groundfish species.
The landed catch of yelloweye is monitored in commercial fisheries and sport harvest is estimated through the statewide harvest survey, creel sampling, and the charter logbook program. Catch sampling is conducted in selected commercial and sport fisheries allowing for a variety of data to be collected including: species composition, size, age, sex, and the spatial distribution of harvest.
Another noteworthy project includes the research Alaska Department of Fish and Game has been conducting to measure the effectiveness of devices which allow rockfish to be released at depth. It is the hope that these devices will reduce the mortality of incidentally caught non-pelagic rockfish. Preliminary results have shown promise for increased short term survival of yelloweye rockfish. However, further research is required before we can be certain of long term effects on growth or reproduction. The most effective way to limit unintentional catch of yelloweye and other non-pelagic rockfish is through avoidance of rockfish habitat. Anglers are encouraged to avoid rockfish habitat when fishing for other species and to keep bait or lures off of the bottom.