Species Profile

Yelloweye Rockfish Pacific Ocean outside waters population

Scientific Name: Sebastes ruberrimus
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
COSEWIC Range: British Columbia, Pacific Ocean
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2020
COSEWIC Status: Threatened
COSEWIC Status Criteria: Meets criteria for Endangered, A2bd+4bd, but designated Threatened, A2bd+4bd, because the species is not at risk of imminent extirpation.
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This marine fish is an important component of most nearshore rocky reef waters on the Pacific coast of British Columbia, outside the Strait of Georgia. This population is important to the commercial and recreational fisheries, and it is culturally significant for Aboriginal communities. New analyses since the last assessment determined that the population has declined dramatically over the last 100 years and indicate the conservation risk is greater than previously assessed. Due to its relatively slow growth, late age of maturity, and territorial behaviour, this population is slow to recover once depleted. However, the population is not regarded to be in imminent danger of extinction because survey data indicates the population has been stable for 20 years (0.5 generation) and current exploitation levels are considered sustainable. Ongoing threats from pervasive ecosystem modifications and climate change remain.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Special Concern in November 2008.  Status re-examined and designated Threatened in November 2020.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Special Concern
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2011-06-23

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Quick Links: | Taxonomy | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Other Protection or Status | National Recovery Program | Documents

Taxonomy

Fishes

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Description

The Yelloweye Rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) is one of 102 species of rockfish belonging to the genus Sebastes. Yelloweye Rockfish are one of the largest rockfish, reaching a maximum recorded length of 91 cm and weight of 11.3 kg. They are easily identified by their bright orange to red colouration and bright yellow eyes. Adults usually have a light to white stripe on their lateral line, while juveniles are darker red in colour, and have two light stripes on and below the lateral line. (Updated 2017/03/27)

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Distribution and Population

There are two distinct Designatable Units of Yelloweye Rockfish within the coastal waters of British Columbia. The Pacific Ocean inside waters Yelloweye population inhabits the Strait of Georgia, Johnstone Strait and Queen Charlotte Strait. The Pacific Ocean outside waters population extends from at least southeast Alaska through to northern Oregon, including the whole of the British Columbia offshore, north and central coast waters. The two Yelloweye populations are distinguished on the basis of genetic information indicating restricted gene flow, and age at maturity. Based on the 2012 and 2015 stock assessment surveys, both the Inside and Outside waters populations are estimated to have declined to 12% and 18%, respectively, of the estimated initial biomass in 1918 (DFO 2012; DFO 2015). (Updated 2017/03/27)

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Habitat

Yelloweye are found only in the northeast Pacific and have been observed from Ensenada, Baja California to Umnak Island in the Aleutian Islands. They are present throughout the coastal waters of British Columbia. Fisheries harvest 95% of their Yelloweye catch between 19 and 251 m depth. Yelloweye Rockfish have been observed from submersibles in depths from 30 to 232 m, over substrates that are hard, complex and with some vertical relief, such as broken rock, rock reefs, ridges, overhangs, crevices, caves, cobble and boulder fields. (Updated 2017/03/27)

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Biology

Female Yelloweye produce between 1.2 and 2.7 million eggs annually. Mating takes place in November, then females may store the sperm for weeks prior to fertilization, and the fertilized eggs are laid in May and June. Yelloweye Rockfish are solitary benthic dwellers with small home ranges. They can live to 115 years in British Columbia, and females reach 50% maturity at about 16 and 20 years of age for the outside and inside waters populations, respectively. On average, females tend to be larger and older than the males, and can reach a maximum size of 88 cm in British Columbia. (Updated 2017/03/27)

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Threats

Fishing is the most significant threat to Yelloweye in Canada. Commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries and scientific surveys on the Pacific coast all target Yelloweye, along with other rockfish species. Yelloweye are also harvested as bycatch in other commercial fisheries. Yelloweye are particularly vulnerable to commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fishing because they are a nearshore species, and their large size makes them a desirable catch. As one of the largest, longest-lived and latest-maturing rockfishes, Yelloweye populations are especially sensitive to mortality caused by human activities. Catch in inside waters has been more intense and happened for a longer period than in outside waters. Like other rockfish species, Yelloweye cannot rapidly adjust to changes in pressure; as a result, they often die when brought to the surface. (Updated 2017/03/27)

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Yelloweye Rockfish, Pacific Ocean outside waters population, is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

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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Other Protection or Status

Yelloweye Rockfish do not have any international status designations. In American waters to the south of British Columbia, Yelloweye Rockfish have been designated as “overfished” since 2002 and the species is under a rebuilding plan from Washington to California. In Canada, total allowable catch (TAC) of Yelloweye Rockfish in commercial fisheries was reduced by 50% outside and 75% inside between 2001 and 2002, in response to concerns about population status. Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCA), closed to all commercial and recreational fishing, protect rockfish habitat with a goal of protecting 20% and 30% of rockfish habitat within RCAs for the outside and inside waters, respectively. Currently 164 such RCAs are in place. (Updated 2017/03/27)

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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.

11 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Yelloweye Rockfish, Pacific Ocean outside waters population (2009-11-25)

    This species is one of an inshore rockfish complex which is exploited by commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries.  Life history characteristics make the species particularly susceptible to human-caused mortality, with a maximum recorded age of 120 yr and generation time estimated at 70 yr.  Fishery-independent surveys over the past 10 yr do not show significant declines, while declines over 19 yr in commercial catch per unit effort are not believed to represent abundance accurately.  Fishery quotas have been substantially reduced from the early 1990s to recent years, closed areas are in place, and restrictions on harvesting are expected to keep catches low in the future.  A designation of Special Concern is consistent with the life history characteristics and probable continued removals in fisheries.
  • Response Statement - Yelloweye Rockfish, Pacific Ocean outside waters population (2022-01-10)

    This marine fish is an important component of most nearshore rocky reef waters on the Pacific coast of British Columbia, outside the Strait of Georgia. This population is important to the commercial and recreational fisheries, and it is culturally significant for Aboriginal communities. New analyses since the last assessment determined that the population has declined dramatically over the last 100 years and indicate the conservation risk is greater than previously assessed. Due to its relatively slow growth, late age of maturity, and territorial behaviour, this population is slow to recover once depleted. However, the population is not regarded to be in imminent danger of extinction because survey data indicates the population has been stable for 20 years (0.5 generation) and current exploitation levels are considered sustainable. Ongoing threats from pervasive ecosystem modifications and climate change remain.

Action Plans

  • Multi-species Action Plan for Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site (2016-07-04)

    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 Yelloweye Rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) in Canada (2021-01-29)

    Yelloweye Rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus, Inside and Outside waters populations) was listed as a species of Special Concern under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) in July 2011. Yelloweye Rockfish belong to the family Sebastidae and are easily identified by their vibrant orange to red colouration and bright yellow eyes. Yelloweye Rockfish are one of the largest rockfish species, reaching a maximum recorded length of 91 cm and weight of 11.3 kg, but with an average length of approximately 66 cm in British Columbia (BC). This species is also long-lived – the maximum recorded age of Yelloweye Rockfish in BC is 115 years, while the global maximum recorded age is 118 years. Yelloweye Rockfish are referred to by many names including red snapper, red rock cod, rasphead rockfish, red rockfish, red cod, goldeneye rockfish, and turkey rockfish.

Orders

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2009 (2009-08-28)

    2009 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.
  • COSEWIC Annual Report 2020 to 2021 (2021-10-12)

    Over the past year COSEWIC assessed a total of 66 wildlife species, of which 4 were assigned a status of Not at Risk. Of these 66, COSEWIC re-examined the status of 41 wildlife species; of these, 80% were reassessed at the same or lower level of risk. To date and with the submission of this report, COSEWIC’s assessments now include 826 wildlife species in various risk categories including 369 Endangered, 196 Threatened, 239 Special Concern, and 22 Extirpated (i.e. no longer found in the wild in Canada). In addition, 19 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct, 62 wildlife species have been designated as Data Deficient, and 202 have been assessed as Not at Risk.

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Recovery Document Posting Plan - Fisheries and Oceans Canada - Fiscal Year 2016-2017 (2018-09-28)

    Under the Species at Risk Act (SARA), the competent Minister(s) must prepare a recovery strategy within one year of listing a species on Schedule 1 of SARA as endangered and within two years of listing a species as extirpated or threatened. A management plan must be prepared within three years for a species listed as special concern. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is accountable for 111 of the 518 species listed under SARA. As of February 2016, proposed recovery strategies, management plans and action plans for 57 of those species have not yet been posted to the Species at Risk Public Registry. An additional 23 aquatic species have proposed management or action plans coming due in the future. The following outlines the Department’s plan for posting proposed documents for 64 species on the Species at Risk Public Registry. The Department has a plan to post recovery strategies for 9 species, management plans for 13 species, and action plans for 42 species over the next year. Original publication of the Recovery Document Posting Plan: 2016-05-02
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