Cowcod fish stocks declared rebuilt!

September 23, 2019

Cowcod Rockfish, 2011 Southern California Hook & Line Survey (NOAA/PSMFC)

Cowcod Rockfish, 2011 Southern California Hook & Line Survey (NOAA/PSMFC)

In an exciting development, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council announced that stocks of Cowcod rockfish (Sebastes levis) south of 40°10’N latitude (Medocino area) have been rebuilt. Once prized by both California commercial and recreational fishermen, Cowcod was declared overfished and placed under strict rebuilding measures in 2000. Initial projections estimated the stocks would be rebuilt by 2090. This news is a welcome relief for California fishermen who have taken great care to avoid catching this species over the last several decades.

The recovery can be attributed to large area closures and a very low allowance for incidental bycatch. “This is a remarkable accomplishment,” said Council Chair Phil Anderson. “The Council’s perseverance, adherence to scientific advice, and partnering with the commercial and recreational stakeholders resulted in the rebuilding of this important groundfish species.”

Stakeholders have collaborated successfully to rebuild overfished West Coast groundfish stocks. Cowcod is the ninth West Coast groundfish stock to be rebuilt through stringent management measures, leaving yelloweye rockfish as the only federally-managed groundfish stock still under a rebuilding plan.

Read our 2017 story about the recovery of West Coast groundfish stocks.