2015 Assessment of the Shortraker Rockfish Stock in the Gulf of Alaska
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) established shortraker rockfish, Sebastes borealis, as a separate management category in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) in 2005. Previously, shortraker rockfish had been grouped from 1991 to 2004 with rougheye rockfish in the “shortraker/rougheye” management category because the two species are similar in appearance, share the same habitat on the upper continental slope, and often co-occur in hauls. Both species were assigned a single overall ABC (acceptable biological catch) and TAC (total allowable catch), and fishermen were free to harvest either species within this TAC. However, evidence from the NMFS Alaska Groundfish Observer Program indicated that shortraker rockfish were being harvested disproportionately within the shortraker/rougheye group, which raised the possibility that shortraker could become overexploited (Clausen 2004). Because of this concern, the NPFMC decided to establish separate management categories for shortraker and rougheye rockfish starting with the 2005 fishing season.
From 2005 to 2010, the assessment for shortraker rockfish was combined with that for another management group of rockfish in the GOA, “other slope rockfish.” Although shortraker rockfish and “other slope rockfish” had separate harvest specifications, their assessments were presented in a single SAFE chapter because each group was assessed using a similar methodology based on the NPFMC’s “tier 5” definition of overfishing. However, in 2010 both the GOA Groundfish Plan Team and the NPFMC Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) recommended that future assessments for shortraker rockfish and “other slope rockfish” be presented in separate SAFE chapters.