This four-minute video demonstrates the use of a variety of rockfish release devices.
Rockfish are an amazingly diverse group of fish with more than 30 species found in the Gulf of Alaska. Many species, including yelloweye, are extremely long-lived, and do not reach sexual maturity until they are well into their twenties. When you add to this high site fidelity and sporadic recruitment, it becomes apparent why the sustainable management of rockfish populations can be so difficult. Over-fishing has depleted some rockfish stocks.
Although nearly half of all rockfish caught are released, rockfish have a “closed” swim bladder which results in their inability to quickly regulate swim bladder pressure. When they are brought to the surface from depths greater than 90 feet, many die. A study found that regardless of external barotrauma signs and capture depth, yelloweye rockfish had remarkably high survival (98%) if they were released at the depth of capture within a couple minutes of reaching the surface. Conversely, the study found that only 22% of yelloweye that were released at the water’s surface were able to submerge to depth.
Produced by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The video shows the use of both home-made and commercially available devices, but there is no product endorsement implied.
For more information, see: adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=wildlifenews.view_article&articles_id=530