2016 Assessment of the Shortraker Rockfish Stock in the Gulf of Alaska
The Stock Structure Working Group (SSWG) was formed in 2009 to develop a set of guidelines to assist stock assessment authors in providing recommendations on stock structure for Alaska stocks. The framework was presented at the September 2009 joint Groundfish Plan Team and a report was drafted shortly thereafter that included a template for presenting various scientific data for inferring stock structure. In November, 2010, the Gulf of Alaska Groundfish Plan Team (GOA GPT) discussed the advantages of having all stock assessment authors evaluate stock structure characteristics of specific stocks. Subsequently, the GOA GPT recommended that the shortraker rockfish template be completed for the November 2016 NPFMC Plan Team meeting. Shortraker rockfish, Sebastes borealis, is managed as a Tier 5 species with area-specific ABC and gulf-wide OFL recommendations. Included here is a summary of what is known regarding the population of shortraker rockfish in the GOA relevant to stock structure concerns along with an evaluation of the stock structure template, author recommendations, and potential management implications to be considered. The majority of this information is excerpted from the most recent full stock assessment and can be found in more detail there (Echave et al. 2015).
Shortraker rockfish ranges from Hokkaido Island, Japan, north into the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea, and through the Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska south to southern California. Itscenter of abundance appears to be Alaska waters. In the GOA, adults of this species inhabit a narrow band along the upper continental slope at depths of 300-500 m; outside of this depth interval, abundance decreases considerably (Ito 1999). Much of this habitat is steep and difficult to trawl in the GOA, and observations from a manned submersible also indicated that shortraker rockfish seemed to prefer steep slopes with frequent boulders (Krieger and Ito 1999). Adult shortraker rockfish may also be associated with Primnoaspp. corals that are used for shelter (Krieger and Wing 2002). Research focusing on non-trawlable habitats found rockfish species often associate with biogenic structure (Du Preez et al. 2011, Laman et al. 2015), and that shortraker rockfish are often found in both trawlable and untrawlable habitats (Rooper and Martin 2012, Rooper et al. 2012).