Rockfish

Rockfish

Bocaccio rockfish, © Amadeo Bachar

At a glance

Eco-rating Mercury Omega-3s
+-Widow rockfish
Best
Moderate

MORE ABOUT WIDOW ROCKFISH

As its name implies, the rockfish hovers along rocky reefs or steep shorelines. This goldish-brown fish is most active at night. It reaches 2 feet (61 cm) length.

Commercial Sources

Widow rockfish are found in the eastern North Pacific, from the Gulf of Alaska to Baja California in Mexico.

The main source of widow rockfish is the United States.

Capture Methods

Widow rockfish come from marine fisheries, not fish farms. They are primarily caught with trawls. Additional types of fishing gear include hooks-and-lines, nets and traps.

+-Yellowtail rockfish
Best
Moderate

MORE ABOUT YELLOWTAIL ROCKFISH

The yellowtail rockfish inhabits rocky reefs or sloping shores and likes to hide amid cracks and crevices on the sea floor. The fish has yellowish-green fins, grows to over 2 feet (61 cm) and can live to over 50 years.

Commercial Sources

Yellowtail rockfish are found in the eastern North Pacific, from Alaska to San Diego, California.

The main source of yellowtail rockfish is the United States.

Capture Methods

Yellowtail rockfish come from marine fisheries, not fish farms. They are primarily caught with trawls. Additional types of fishing gear include hooks-and-lines and nets.

+-Thornyhead
Best
Moderate

More than 70 types of rockfish live off the U.S. West Coast, and some species can live up to 200 years. This long lifespan often translated into severe overfishing for many rockfish populations and the fishery was declared a federal disaster in 20000. However, a new type of management program that began in 2011 has helped fishermen stay within catch limits, avoid overfished species and stay out of sensitive areas. As a result, these species are now considered a sustainable choice.

+-Splitnose
Best
Low

More than 70 types of rockfish live off the U.S. West Coast, and some species can live up to 200 years. This long lifespan often translated into severe overfishing for many rockfish populations and the fishery was declared a federal disaster in 20000. However, a new type of management program that began in 2011 has helped fishermen stay within catch limits, avoid overfished species and stay out of sensitive areas. As a result, these species are now considered a sustainable choice.

+-Bocaccio
OK
Moderate

MORE ABOUT BOCACCIO

Bocaccio, a rockfish species, dwells amid the rocky reefs of the eastern Pacific. It grows to nearly 3 feet (0.9 meter) and is reported to live up to 30 years. It is highly depleted and perhaps endangered.

Commercial Sources

Bocaccio are found in the eastern North Pacific, from Alaska to Baja California in Mexico.

The main source of bocaccio is the United States.

Capture Methods

Bocaccio come from marine fisheries, not fish farms. They are primarily caught with trawls. Additional types of fishing gear include hooks-and-lines, nets and traps.

+-Canary rockfish
OK
Moderate

MORE ABOUT CANARY ROCKFISH

The canary rockfish is bright mottled yellow to orange with a gray background. Instead of laying eggs, this venomous fish gives birth to live young. It can grow to 2.5 feet (76 cm) and live up to 19 years.

Commercial Sources

Canary rockfish are found in the eastern North Pacific, from the Gulf of Alaska to Baja California in Mexico.

The main source of canary rockfish is the United States.

Capture Methods

Canary rockfish come from marine fisheries, not fish farms. They are primarily caught with trawls. Additional types of fishing gear include hooks-and-lines, nets and traps.

+-Chilipepper rockfish
OK
Moderate

More than 70 types of rockfish live off the U.S. West Coast, and some species can live up to 200 years. This long lifespan often translated into severe overfishing for many rockfish populations and the fishery was declared a federal disaster in 20000. However, a new type of management program that began in 2011 has helped fishermen stay within catch limits, avoid overfished species and stay out of sensitive areas. As a result, these species are now considered a sustainable choice.

Recommended servings per month

Contaminant Men Women Kids 6-12 Kids 0-5
Bocaccio Mercury 4+ 4+ 3 2
Canary rockfish Mercury 4+ 4+ 3 2
Widow rockfish Mercury 4+ 4+ 3 2
Yellowtail rockfish Mercury 4+ 4+ 3 2
Splitnose Mercury
Chilipepper rockfish Mercury
Thornyhead Mercury
Eco details: 
  • Rockfish are caught from California to Alaska, however many species are depleted because of historical fishing pressure and the fact that rockfish grow slowly and take many years before they reproduce.
  • Rockfish from British Columbia and Alaska are more abundant.
  • In California, Oregon and Washington, rockfish are now managed under an innovative new ‘catch share’ management plan. Bycatch is down 75%, and conservative catch quotas have limited the catch of overfished species. Additionally, an innovation boom in gear design and fishing behavior has helped trawlers avoid bycatch hotspots and keep sensitive rockfish out of nets.