Arrow Tooth Flounder

FBSArrowtooth flounder (Atheresthes stomias) are a relatively large flatfish. At present, data on many basic aspects of arrowtooth flounder life history such as size and age of sexual maturity are lacking. However, spawning fish have been observed from December through February. In Alaska waters, arrowtooth flounder are distributed over the continental shelf through age 4 and then at older ages disperse to occupy both the continental shelf and the slope .

Arrowtooth flounder range from central California to the eastern Bering Sea and currently are the most abundant fish in the Gulf of Alaska. The huge increase in biomass observed in the 1990s resulted from strong year-classes produced in the 1980s. Because of their abundance, arrowtooth flounder are of substantial ecological importance at higher trophic levels in the Gulf of Alaska food web and have been identified as a significant food source for Steller sea lions, occurring in their diet 21%-35% of the time in the area around Kodiak Island. Arrowtooth flounder are also known to be voracious predators of juvenile walleye pollock.


Canary Rock Fish


FBSCanary rockfish (Sebastes pinniger) live close to the ocean bottom and appear to prefer areas of high relief near the edge of the continental shelf, where they feed on small fish and euphausiids. While males live up to 60 years of age, females rarely live to 35 years. They are often confused with yelloweye rockfish (S. ruberrimus) because of the brilliant gold colour on their sides.

This species is an important component of the rockfish catch in the commercial trawl fishery off Canada's west coast. Adults are captured at a depth of 50-375 metres, although juveniles can be seen in much shallower waters. The principal depth of capture is 100-200 metres.


Pacific Cod

FBSPacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus) are opportunistic feeders preying on invertebrates (amphipods, euphausiids, shrimp and crabs) and fish (herring, sand lance and flatfish). The species is widely distributed in the coastal North Pacific, from the Bering Sea south to Santa Monica, California in the east and the Sea of Japan in the west. Four stocks of Pacific cod are defined for management purposes on Canada's west coast: Strait of Georgia, west coast of Vancouver Island, Queen Charlotte Sound, and Hecate Strait. This report, however, considers only the Hecate Strait stock.


Pacific Rock Fish (snapper)

FBSIn the waters off Canada's west coast there are more than 36 known species of rockfish belonging to the family Scorpaenidae, which in turn is represented by 34 species of the genus Sebastes and two of the genus Sebastolobus. Although the geographic range is different for each species, rockfish may be found in the North Pacific Ocean from southern California to Kyushu Island, Japan and in the Atlantic Ocean. The majority of the species inhabit the continental shelf and upper slope regions, and consequently are sometimes described as "nearshore", "shelf" or "slope" rockfish


Sable Fish

Sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria), also known as black cod, inhabit shelf and slope water to depths greater than 1,500 metres from central Baja California to Japan and the Bering Sea. Although genetic studies suggest a single population throughout their range, movement of adults is limited enough to allow assessment and management on a smaller scale. Recruitment and growth patterns indicate the presence of two stocks in Canada's west coast waters.


Pacific Ocean Perch

FBSPacific ocean perch (Sebastes alutus) dominates the rockfish catch in Canada's Pacific groundfish trawl fishery. This long-lived species, commonly called POP, inhabits the sloping walls of marine canyons along the coast of British Columbia (BC) in association with many other rockfish species. POP has an important economic and cultural impact on smaller BC communities like Prince Rupert.


Pacific Yellowmouth

FBSThe yellowmouth rockfish (Sebastes reedi) is the second most abundant slope rockfish in terms of catch along Canada's west coast, after Pacific ocean perch (Sebastes alutus). These two species share many physical features and, prior to the mid-1970s, both were often classified as "red rockfish" or "ocean perch" in catch records.


Idiot Fish (Kinki)

KinkiThe shortspine thornyhead (Sebastolobus alascanus) are distinguished from other rockfishes by the spiny ridge across their cheek. They normally have 16 dorsal spines, while other rockfishes usually have 13
(longspine thornyheads have 15 spines). The shortspine differs from the longspine thornyhead by the absence of an elongated third dorsal spine, having deeper notched and lighter-colored pectoral fins, and a gill chamber that is light rather than dark. Shortspines are usually red or orange-red and often have white patches on their sides, back, cheeks, and spiny dorsal fin tips when seen underwater. Their fins can have black patches and there may be dark spots or speckles on their sides. An all-black female shortspine was reported in the waters off Oregon. The shortspine can grow up to 32 inches (80 cm) in length.

True Cod

TrueCodOne of the most desirable of the North Pacific Ocean's groundfish, the Pacific cod is also known as grey cod, true cod or P-cod. It is similar to the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), coloured brown to grey on the back, lighter on the sides, with a belly shading grey to white, and has the typical chin barbel of the cod. Typically 60 centimetres in length with a weight of 2.5 to 3.6 kilograms, the Pacific cod ranges the entire western coast of Canada and is harvested year round by trawls, longlines and pots.

Atlantic and Pacific cod are often not separately distinguished in the marketplace and are frequently used interchangeably; however, Pacific cod has a moisture content a little higher than that of Atlantic cod, making it less firm. Otherwise, the cooked meat is white, lean and flaky with a mild taste.



PollockWalleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) is a key species in the Alaska groundfish complex and a target species for one of the world's largest fisheries. Walleye pollock produce the largest catch of any single species inhabiting the 200-mile U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. Pollock is a semipelagic schooling fish widely distributed in the North Pacific Ocean with largest concentrations found in the eastern Bering Sea.
Pollock are considered a relatively fast growing and short-lived species and currently represents a major biological component of the Bering Sea ecosystem. In the U.S. portion of the Bering Sea including the Aleutian Islands region, three stocks of pollock are identified for management purposes.


Ling Cod

Lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) is a large greenling (Hexagrammidae) providing a large recreational fishery from southern California to the Gulf of Alaska, and a modest commercial fishery from Oregon northward. Most are captured on hook and line and trawl. Catches of lingcod often limits trawl fisheries for other species because of low lingcod capture quotas. Adults occupy continental shelf depths from the intertidal zone to 300 m or more, depending on cool water at depth in the more southern locations. Lingcod reach 1.5 m in length and may live for at least 20 years. Adults live on or near the bottom, often in rocky areas where fish, squid, and octopus prey are abundant. Lingcod females lay large egg masses in crevices and under ledges in shallow near-shore habitats during winter and spring. Males guard the nest sites for 8-10 weeks until the eggs hatch. Newly hatched lingcod are essentially pelagic until they reach 80-100 mm when they take up residence on the bottom in sand, gravel, and eelgrass in bays, estuaries and shallow shelf environment. Lingcod are voracious predators and grow rapidly to approximately 30 cm in their first year.


Dover Sole

Dover SoleDover sole (Microstomus pacificus) ranges from Baja California to the Bering Sea. It is one of four flatfish species caught in the commercial trawl fishery off Canada's west coast, which is nearly the northern limit of this species' commercial abundance.


English (Lemon) Sole

English sole (Parophrys vetulus) is one of four important flatfish caught in the commercial trawl fishery off Canada's west coast. While its range extends from Baja California to the Bering Sea, B.C. is the northern limit of commercial abundance for the species. The largest discrete stock in B.C. coastal waters is found in Hecate Strait (Areas 5C-D). English sole live as long as 21 years and recruit to the commercial fishery at about four years of age. They spawn annually, males beginning at three years of age and females at four years. Abundance has fluctuated cyclically over the last 40 years, mainly because of variability in the ocean environment. English sole abundance increased steadily between 1962 and 1993. Since then, the stock has shrunk in size primarily due to a decline in the proportion of young fish recruiting to the population.


Petrale Sole

FBSThe Petrale sole (Eopsetta jordani) is a flatfish caught in the commercial trawl fishery off Canada's west coast. The range of the species extends from Baja California to the Bering Sea, with B.C. near the northern limit of commercial abundance.

Two discrete populations have been identified in B.C. coastal waters, one off the southwest coast of Vancouver Island (Area 3C), and another off northwest Vancouver Island (Area 3D), Queen Charlotte Sound (Areas 5A-B) and Hecate Strait (Areas 5C-D).

Petrale sole can live as long as 30 years, becoming available to the commercial fishery at about four or five years of age and spawning annually in winter. Adults occupy depths of 80- 500 metres off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Males begin to spawn at three or four years of age, while females begin at four or five years.


Rock Sole

Three species of what are popularly known as rock sole can be found in the North Pacific, but only two are found off Canada's west coast, Lepidopsetta bilineata and Lepidopsetta petraborealis. Of the two, the latter, a southern species, is most common. The range of L. bilineata extends from Baja California to the southeastern Bering Sea, while L. petraborealis can be found from Puget Sound to the southern Sea of Okhotsk. Four discrete populations have been identified off the B.C. coast - two in Queen Charlotte Sound (Areas 5A-B) and two in Hecate Strait (Areas 5C-D).Life histories are similar among the species. They live as long as 21 years and recruit to the commercial fishery at about four years of age. They have evolved to spawn annually over the course of their lifetime. Males begin to spawn at three years of age, while females begin to spawn at age four.


Rex Sole

Rex SoleTwo species of rock sole in Alaska were distinguished in 2000, the northern and southern rock soles (Lepidopsetta polyxystra and L. bilineata). Adults of the northern rock sole are found from Puget Sound through the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands to the Kuril Islands, while the southern rock sole is known from the southeast Bering Sea to Baja California. Their distributions overlap from the far eastern Aleutian Islands and extreme south-eastern Bering Sea to Puget Sound. The northern rock sole spawns in midwinter and spring, and the southern rock sole spawns in summer. Rock soles mature and ovulate all ova simultaneously within both ovaries, and spawn in a single event.  The rock soles, along with other small flatfishes, represent an important trawl fishery in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. The Fisheries Behavioral Ecology Program primarily works with the northern rock sole.



The fish family Rajidae, commonly known as skates and rays, includes about 280 species of primarily benthic fishes found throughout the world’s oceans from tropical to cold temperate latitudes. At least 14 species of skates are known to occur in the Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian Islands, and Bering Sea from the 8 m to depths of over 1500 m. Many of these species are widely distributed, with ranges extending south along the coast of North America as well as into the western North Pacific, Sea of Okhotsk, and Sea of Japan.

Alaska’s skate fauna includes representatives of two genera: Raja and Bathyraja. The genus Raja, commonly known as the “stiff-snout” skates because they have a robust rostral cartilage, includes approximately 30 species worldwide and a North Pacific assemblage of 6 species ranging from the Gulf of California to the Bering Sea and into the western North Pacific. This North Pacific Assemblage is thought to be a cluster of closely related species and will probably be recognized as a separate genus in the future.

The genus Bathyraja, also known as the “soft-snout” skates due to their flexible rostral cartilage, includes over 40 species distributed throughout the world’s oceans. Bathyraja is the most broadly distributed and most diverse of all the skate genera, and the greatest diversity of Bathyraja occurs in the North Pacific. Most of Alaska’s skate species are included in this genus, although some authors include one or two of the species in the genus Rhinoraja. In general, members of the genus Bathyraja tend to be smaller and inhabit deeper waters than species of Raja.


Pacific Whiting

small member of the cod family known as either hake or whiting, the Pacific hake is a slim fish with large eyes and a slim "wrist" ahead of the tail. Typical size is 50 centimetres long and weighing 1 kilogram. Hake is a semi-pelagic, roaming from ocean floor to mid-water, and is caught by a mid-water trawl. This fish stayed in a "developmental" phase for a number of years with most sales coming from a joint-venture arrangement with Poland. Pacific whiting has been a difficult fish to process because of the myxosporean parasite which, while it does not affect those who eat it, causes an enzymatic reaction which softens the flesh if the fish is not processed and frozen within 30 hours of harvest.