The marine waters of Washington State are home to over 90 species of bottomfish. As defined by state law (WAC 220-16-340), these include Pacific cod, Pacific tomcod, Pacific hake (or whiting), walleye pollock, all species of dabs, sole and flounders (except Pacific halibut), lingcod, ratfish, sablefish, cabezon, greenling, buffalo sculpin, great sculpin, red Irish lord, brown Irish lord, Pacific staghorn sculpin, wolfeel, giant wrymouth, plainfin midshipman, all species of shark, skate, rockfish, rattail, and surf perches (excluding shiner perch).
The federal Pacific Coast Groundfish Management Plan includes most of the 90 species of bottomfish off the Washington, Oregon and California coasts. This Management Plan describes how the Council develops decisions for management of fisheries. In some cases, it also contains specific, fixed fishery management designations. Management information for Washington’s bottomfish is available at:
- Puget Sound Groundfish Management Plan
- Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan
- Summary of the Coastal Black Rockfish Tagging Program 1981-2008
- Puget Sound Rockfish Conservation Plan
- Final EIS for Puget Sound Rockfish
- Estimating Fish Abundance and Community Composition on Rocky Habitats in the San Juan Islands Using a Small Remotely Operated Vehicle
- 1995 Status of Puget Sound Bottomfish Stocks
In 2010 a federal status review was conducted for 5 species of rockfish occurring in Puget Sound. Based on this review, on April 27, 2010, three species of Puget Sound rockfish were listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA): bocaccio as Endangered, and canary and yelloweye rockfish as Threatened. In 2017, the canary rockfish was delisted after research found the Puget Sound population was not genetically distinct from the others along the West Coast.
In order to rebuild populations of these species, protect other species that are in decline, and prevent overharvesting of other sensitive species, Washington has established strict harvest guidelines and area closures. A harvest guideline is the maximum annual harvest of a targeted species. Through the Pacific Fishery Management Council process, WDFW has committed to managing its fisheries to stay within these guidelines.