Widow Rockfish

About The Species

U.S. wild-caught widow rockfish is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.

Population Level

Above target population levels on the West Coast. In the Gulf of Alaska the status is unknown.

Fishing Status

At recommended levels.

Habitat Impact

Fishing gear used to harvest widow rockfish rarely contacts the ocean floor and has minimal impacts on habitat.

Bycatch

Regulations are in place to minimize bycatch of overfished and protected species.

Status

  • According to the 2015 stock assessment, the West Coast stock of widow rockfish is not overfished and not subject to overfishing based on 2014 catch data.
    • Due to the quick expansion of the West Coast fishery, West Coast widow rockfish populations were depleted and declared overfished in 2001.
    • Fishery managers implemented a rebuilding plan in 2001, and declared the stock rebuilt in 2011.
  • According to the 2015 stock assessment, the Gulf of Alaska widow rockfish stock is not subject to overfishing but the population status is unknown.
    • Widow rockfish are not assessed individually, but are grouped together under a complex with other rockfish.  
Appearance
  • Widow rockfish are dusty-brown with traces of light yellow and red.
  • Their fin membranes are black.
  • They have short head spines and are relatively small compared to other rockfish.
  • Widow rockfish have shiny skin and steep, sharp snouts.
Behavior and Diet
  • Widow rockfish reach lengths up to 24 inches and may live as long as 60 years, but fish older than 20 are uncommon.
  • Males grow faster than females, but females reach larger sizes.
  • Widow rockfish mature at about 8 years old or when they are about 16.5 inches long.
  • Widow rockfish are internal fertilizers, and larvae are released alive in January or February.
  • Juveniles feed on krill and copepods.
  • Older fish feed on juvenile crabs, amphipods, krill, and small fishes. 
  • Chinook salmon and northern fur seals feed on juvenile widow rockfish.
Location Description

Widow rockfish are found between the Gulf of Alaska and northern Baja California.
Adults are rarely seen in California and are most abundant from British Columbia to northern California.

Management