About the Species
U.S. wild-caught Pacific ocean perch is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations. A rebuilding plan restricts harvest of overfished Pacific ocean perch on the West Coast.
Above target population levels.
At recommended levels.
Area closures and gear restrictions protect sensitive rocky, cold-water coral and sponge habitats from bottom trawl gear.
Regulations are in place to minimize bycatch.
- There are four stocks of Pacific ocean perch: Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands, Pacific coast, and one stock contained in a stock complex along the southern Pacific coast. According to the most recent stock assessments:
- The Gulf of Alaska stock is not overfished (2019 stock assessment) and not subject to overfishing based on 2020 catch data. Summary stock assessment information can be found on Stock SMART.
- The Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands stock is not overfished (2019 stock assessment) and not subject to overfishing based on 2020 catch data. Summary stock assessment information can be found on Stock SMART.
- The Pacific coast stock of is not overfished (2017 stock assessment) and not subject to overfishing based on 2018 catch data. Summary stock assessment information can be found on Stock SMART.
- The population status of the Minor Slope Rockfish South Complex, which includes Pacific ocean perch, is unknown. The complex has not been assessed, but according to 2018 catch data, the complex is not subject to overfishing.
- Pacific ocean perch are light red with several diffuse, olive-green patches on their upper backs where the body begins to narrow towards the tail fin. They also possess a prominent, cone-shaped knob on their lower jaw.
- Pacific ocean perch grow slowly and may live to be 98 years old.
- They grow to about 20 inches long and weigh about 4 pounds.
- They do not reproduce until they are around 10 years old.
- Depending on their size, females can produce between 10,000 and 300,000 eggs.
- Pacific ocean perch mate in the fall. Eggs develop inside the female and receive some nourishment from the mother.
- Eggs hatch internally, and females release the larvae in the spring.
- Larvae eat small zooplankton (tiny floating organisms).
- Juveniles and adults feed on copepods and krill, and adults will also eat small fishes.
- Pacific ocean perch move off ocean bottom habitats during the day, following daily migrations of krill.
- Seabirds, other rockfish, salmon, lingcod, and other large bottom-dwelling fish feed on juveniles. Sablefish, halibut, and sperm whales feed on adult Pacific ocean perch.
Where They Live
- Pacific ocean perch are found off the coast of North America from California to the Western Aleutian Islands in Alaska.
- They are less commonly found south of Oregon and are particularly rare in Southern California.
- NOAA Fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council manage the Pacific ocean perch fishery in Alaska.
- Managed under the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Groundfish Fishery Management Plans:
- Permits are required and the number of available permits is limited to control the amount of fishing.
- Managers determine how much Pacific ocean perch can be caught and then allocate this catch quota among groups of fishermen.
- Catch is monitored through record keeping, reporting requirements, and observer monitoring.
- A percentage of the Aleutian Islands catch is allocated to the Community Development Quota Program, which benefits fishery-dependent communities in western Alaska. The rest is allocated among the BSAI trawl sectors, based on historic harvest and future harvest needs, to improve retention and utilization of fishery resources by the trawl fleet.
- The Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish Program allows harvesters to fish together in cooperatives. These cooperatives are allocated specific amounts of the allowed catches of rockfish and species harvested incidentally to rockfish. The goal of the program is to spread out the fishery in time and space, allowing fishermen more flexibility to sell their catch for better prices and reducing the pressure of what was once an approximately 2-week fishery in July.
- NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific Fishery Management Council manage the Pacific ocean perch fishery on the West Coast.
- Managed under the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan:
- NOAA Fisheries declared the Pacific coast stock of Pacific ocean perch overfished in 1999. The council adopted a rebuilding plan for the stock in 2000, which prohibited a directed fishery for the species. The stock was declared rebuilt in 2017.
- The regulations listed below that apply to all Pacific groundfish fisheries also provide for the conservation and management of Pacific ocean perch:
- Limit on how much may be harvested in one fishing trip.
- Certain seasons and areas are closed to fishing.
- Gear restrictions help reduce bycatch and impacts on habitat.
- A trawl rationalization catch share program that includes:
- Catch limits that are based on the population status of each fish stock and divided into shares that are allocated to individual fishermen or groups.
- Provisions that allow fishermen to decide how and when to catch their share.
- In 2019, commercial landings of Pacific ocean perch totaled 141 million pounds and were valued at more than $29.4 million, according to the NOAA Fisheries commercial fishing landings database.
- Gear types, habitat impacts, and bycatch:
- Bottom trawls are primarily used to catch Pacific ocean perch, although pelagic trawls are also used.
- Bottom trawls can contact the ocean floor and impact habitats, depending on the type and sensitivity of the habitat and the size of the gear.
- Trawls cause minimal damage when targeting species over soft, sandy, or muddy ocean bottoms.
- For Alaska and the West Coast, NOAA Fisheries and the regional fishery management councils have implemented large closed areas to protect sensitive rocky, cold-water coral and sponge habitats from bottom trawls.
- In Alaska, trawl fishermen targeting Pacific ocean perch might incidentally catch Pacific cod, arrowtooth flounder, rockfish, and sablefish. Halibut, salmon, and crab may also be caught as bycatch.
- Pacific cod and sablefish are generally retained due to their high commercial value.
- Bycatch limits prevent too much bycatch of other species from being caught. If a target groundfish fishery exceeds a bycatch limit, the fishery may close for the remainder of the season.
Recreational Fishing Regulations
Commercial Fishing Regulations
Subsistence Fishing Regulations
The eastern Bering Sea was characterized by anomalously warm conditions in 2018. Over the northern…
Small Entity Compliance Guide for the Amendment 80 Groundfish Trawl Fisheries.
Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska Harvest Specifications for 2006-2007: Environmental Assessment and Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands harvest specifications
Data & Maps
Pacific ocean perch in the Gulf of Alaska are assessed on a biennial stock assessment schedule to…
Pacific ocean perch (POP, Sebastes alutus) inhabit the outer continental shelf and upper slope…
Conditions in the Gulf of Alaska were close to average in 2020...