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About rockfish and Rockfish Conservation Areas

There are over 35 species of rockfish along the coast of British Columbia (B.C) and some live for over 100 years. Rockfish grow and reproduce slowly, giving birth to live fry after a 1 to 2 month gestation period.

Inshore rockfish live on rocky reefs and do not swim far from home. These fish are often caught with hook and line gear using bait and artificial lures in rocky reef habitats. Rockfish can also be caught accidentally when fishers are angling for other fish and fishing for other species. For example, juvenile rockfish can get caught in trap gear when fishing for prawn and crab. This means that they are susceptible to over-fishing. The use of descending devices to return rockfish back to their appropriate depth is mandatory as rockfish do not survive well after catch and release.

Rockfish protections

Many rockfish species in British Columbia are in decline and of conservation concern. Monitoring and research programs in B.C. indicate that inshore rockfish are at low levels of abundance. We need your help to protect and conserve these species.

Protections like catch restrictions, fishery monitoring, stock assessment programs, and the establishment of 162 Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCAs) which cover over 4,800 km² of the Canadian Pacific coast are in place to slow down or stop further rockfish population declines associated with recreational and commercial fisheries. Canada's RCAs represent a long-term conservation measure to provide a refuge for rockfish populations to rebuild inside and outside of these protected areas.

Learn what you can and can't do in Rockfish Conservation Areas.

Rockfish Conservation Area review

We are reviewing the effectiveness of RCAs following new peer-reviewed science advice from the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) and Canada’s adoption of new protection standards to better conserve Canada’s oceans.

We recently invited First Nations and Indigenous people, industry, other levels of government, scientists and academia, members of the public and other stakeholders to participate in a  consultation about RCAs in the Northern Shelf Bio-Region of B.C.  Input collected from this review will help inform rockfish conservation within the Northern Shelf Bioregion Marine Protected Area Network planning process.

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