Bocaccio rockfish (Puget Sound/Georgia Basin DPS) (Sebastes paucispinis)

Boraccio Rockfish
Bocaccio rockfish
Category: Fish
Related species groups: Rockfish
State status: Candidate
Federal status: Endangered
Vulnerability to climate change (More details)

High

Caught commercially off the outer Washington coast with otter-trawls, longline, and jig handline gear. Rarely caught by recreational harvesters off the outer Washington coast.

Like many rockfish species, the spines of bocaccio can be mildly poisonous and cause unpleasant pain if you are unlucky enough to get poked by one!

State record

WeightAnglerLocationDate Caught
23.63 lbs Carson Kendall Swiftsure Bank August 8, 1987

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Description and Range

Physical description

Bocaccio have an elongate body type and are laterally compressed. They have a head that is pointed, a large mouth, and a lower jaw with a knob on the end (symphyseal knob) that greatly protrudes beyond the upper jaw. Underwater, adult color varies from shades of pink to pink-brown, grey or red that extends down over the belly. After capture the colors are brighter, usually reddish brown. Young fish are generally light bronze with speckling over the sides and back. As bocaccio age, their color generally becomes darker and the speckling fades. This is a large rockfish species.

Bocaccio rockfish can grow up to 91 cm (36 in) in length, and 6.8 kg (15 lbs) in weight. Maximum age is 50 years old.

Geographic range

Bocaccio are found from Stepovak Bay, Alaska Peninsula, to Punta Blanca, Baja California. This species was once common on steep walls in portions of Puget Sound, now they are very rare. They have been found at water depths ranging from 12 to 478 m (40-1,578 ft), but tend to be most abundant from 50 to 250 m (165-825 ft) in depth.

Climate vulnerability

Sensitivity to climate change

High

The main sensitivity of bocaccio rockfish to climate change is likely to stem from changes to their prey base and resultant reductions in the likelihood of successful recruitment events. Warmer ocean conditions could lead to decreases in prey (e.g., krill, copepods) for both juveniles and adults, prompting decreases in adult fecundity and juvenile survival. Warmer waters could also lead to decreased success of recruitment events. Additionally, nearshore habitat loss due to sea level rise could impact juvenile survival, as juveniles tend to use nearshore habitat as nursery and foraging area. Deepwater coral habitat, which many adult rockfish use, may also decrease due to acidification, further reducing available habitat. Decreased oxygen levels may have direct physiological effects on bocaccio, leading to higher levels of mortality across various life stages. Due to their long life cycles and generation times, adults may be able to persist through short term pulses of negative ocean conditions (e.g., years with warmer sea surface temperature), though conversely, their low productivity could make it difficult for populations to recover from climate-related declines.

Confidence: Moderate

Exposure to climate change

Moderate-
High

  • Increased ocean temperatures
  • Sea level rise
  • Declines in pH
  • Decreased oxygen
Confidence: Moderate

Regulations

Rules and Seasons

The Puget Sound and Georgia Basin populations of bocaccio are listed as endangered under the endangered species act and recreational retention in all Puget Sound waters is prohibited.

Conservation

This species is identified as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) under the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). SGCN-classified species include both those with and without legal protection status under the Federal or State Endangered Species programs, as well as game species with low populations. The WDFW SWAP is part of a nationwide effort by all 50 states and five U.S. territories to develop conservation action plans for fish, wildlife and their natural habitats—identifying opportunities for species' recovery before they are imperiled and more limited.
This species is identified as a Priority Species under WDFW's Priority Habitat and Species Program. Priority species require protective measures for their survival due to their population status, sensitivity to habitat alteration, and/or recreational, commercial, or tribal importance. The PHS program is the agency's main means of sharing fish and wildlife information with local governments, landowners, and others who use it to protect priority habitats for land use planning.