Species Profile

Rougheye Rockfish type I

Scientific Name: Sebastes sp. type I
Other/Previous Names: Sebastes aleutianus type I,Sebastes sp. type I ,Sebastes sp. type 1
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
Range: Pacific Ocean
Last COSEWIC Assessment: April 2007
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Special Concern


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Quick Links: | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Rougheye Rockfish type I

Description

Rougheye rockfish belongs to the family Scorpaenidae and its name – rougheye – refers to a series of spines along the lower rim of the eyes. Rougheye rockfish are possibly among the longest lived fish species on earth. In Alaska, scientists aged one specimen to 205 years. It has recently been discovered that rougheye probably comprise two distinct species with possibly different depth distributions. The two types have similar appearances with slight variations in colour. Scientifically, they are currently known simply as Type I and Type II. Rougheye rockfish appear red with dark or dusky blotches of pigment in the back dorsal region. It has a light red lateral line and all but the pectoral fins are usually marked with black ends. Rougheye rockfish can attain lengths up to 100 cm.

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Distribution and Population

Rougheye rockfish are widely distributed and occur on both sides of the Pacific Ocean: in North America from Alaska to southern California, and in Asia from northern Japan up to the Bering Sea. In British Columbia, they occur along the continental slope, and are typically found at depths between 170 and 660 m. Although population estimates are unavailable for Canadian waters, the Canadian commercial fishery has reported a relatively consistent catch of between 1000 and 1500 tonnes annually over the last 2 decades.

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Habitat

Highest densities of rougheye rockfish occur on the sea floor with soft substrates, in areas with frequent boulders and on slopes greater than 20°. Boulders may act as territorial markers, current deflectors, or structures that help them hunt for prey. It appears that this species avoids flat bottoms. Rougheye rockfish co-occur with numerous commercially harvested species, including arrowtooth flounder, Pacific ocean perch, Dover sole, petrale sole, shortspine thornyhead, and sablefish.

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Biology

Rougheye rockfish primarily eat shrimp, but will also eat various fish species such as walleye pollock, Pacific herring and eulachon. The principal spawning period off British Columbia is in April. Like all viviparous Sebastes species, fertilized eggs remain within the ovary until emerging as larvae. While there is limited information on rougheye rockfish specifically, it is known that Sebastes larvae occur near the surface whereas juveniles live at midwater depths. Sebastes larvae can be found up to 500 km offshore from the BC coast, far from adult habitat.

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Threats

Threats The primary threat to the BC population stems from overfishing. Because rougheye rockfish live on the ocean floor, both trawl and hook and line fishing affect this species. From 1971 to 2005, the combined trawl and longline fleets removed 25,590 t of rougheye rockfish biomass from BC coastal waters. Although population estimates are not available, a comparison of 2003 data to 1996 data suggests that older aged rougheye rockfish (those 50 years and over) have declined. There is some evidence to suggest that mortality rates from all sources may have doubled in recent years; however, age samples from the commercial fishery can often be biased due to selectivity issues. Long-lived and low-reproducing Sebastes species, such as rougheye rockfish, are particularly susceptible to population collapse. The lack of information on relative abundance, distribution and threats to rougheye rockfish also constitute a threat. As well, difficulty in separating the two species increases the risk of potential impacts on one of the species going unnoticed.

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Protection

Federal Protection

More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Fisheries for this species pair are managed through a fisheries management plan (DFO 2007). Under this plan, fishing quotas are set for rougheye rockfish. Industry plays an active role in fishery management through scientific collaboration, including significant funding towards research surveys, at sea catch monitoring using onboard observers and electronic monitoring of vessels and dockside monitoring of all landings.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

8 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

COSEWIC Assessments

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Rougheye Rockfish type I (2007)

    This species is a relatively large (reaching 90 cm length) rockfish species and among the longest-lived, estimated to approach 200 years. It is one of two sympatric species which have been identified within the described species Sebastes aleutianus. It ranges from northern Japan to southern California in depths 200 to 800+ m along the shelf break. In Canadian waters abundance information is derived from surveys and from the commercial fishery that has maintained a relatively constant reported catch of between 1000 and 2000 tonnes annually over the last 2 decades. Abundance indices and biomass estimates are uncertain, compromised by short time series and survey techniques not always appropriate for the species. No strong abundance trends are observed in the available indices. There is evidence of truncation of the age distribution over the last decade, suggesting that mortality from all sources may have doubled (4.5% y-1 to 9.1% y-1). Long-lived, low-fecundity Sebastes species are particularly susceptible to population collapse and recovery may be compromised when the age- and size-distribution is truncated (i.e. when the number of spawners decline) through fishing. Difficulty in separating the two species increases the risk of potential impacts on one of the species going unnoticed.

Action Plans

  • Multi-species Action Plan for Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site (2016)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site meets the requirements for an action plan set out in the Species at Risk Act (SARA (s.47)) for species requiring an action plan that occur inside the boundary of the site. This action plan will be updated to more comprehensively include measures to conserve and recover the marine species at risk once the first integrated Land, Sea, People management plan for Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve & Haida Heritage Site (hereafter called Gwaii Haanas) is complete. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur in Gwaii Haanas.

Management Plans

  • Management Plan for the Rougheye/Blackspotted Rockfish Complex (Sebastes Aleutianus and S. Melanostictus) and Longspine Thornyhead (Sebastolobus Altivelis) in Canada (2012)

    The Rougheye/Blackspotted Rockfish complex comprises two species, Rougheye Rockfish (Sebastes aleutianus) and Blackspotted Rockfish (Sebastes melanostictus). Both species belong to the family Scorpaenidae, and are possibly among the longest lived fish species on earth. In Alaska, scientists aged one specimen to 205 years. These species appear red with dark or dusky blotches of pigment in the back dorsal region, and generally do not exceed 80 cm in size. The two species have similar appearances with slight variations in colour. The complex occurs in the Pacific Ocean, with a range that extends from the northwestern Pacific to British Columbia and southern California. The relative distribution and abundance of these two species in Canadian waters is unknown.

Orders

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2007 (2007)

    2007 Annual Report to the The Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.