State announces non-pelagic rockfish sport fishing rules
The State Department of Fish and Game has set the regulations for non-pelagic rockfish for Southeast waters.
The regulations remained unchanged from last year’s season, which pertains only to non-pelagic, or deepwater rockfish, said Petersburg-Wrangell Area Management Biologist Doug Fleming.
“It appears to be for all purposes pretty much the same as last year,” he said.
The regulations for all Southeast waters are as follows:
All non-pelagic rockfish caught must be retained until the bag limit is reached.
Persons sport fishing from a charter vessel must use a deep water release mechanism to return the fish to the depth it was hooked or at least 100 feet.
Charter operators and crew members may not retain non-pelagic rockfish while clients are on board the vessel.
The regulations for Southeast Inside Waters, which include Wrangell, Petersburg, and Ketchikan are as follows:
Alaska residents have no size limit, and can take a maximum of three fish daily, of which only one may be a yelloweye rockfish. Residents may have six total fish in their possession, with a maximum of two yelloweye rockfish.
Alaska Non-residents may take two non-pelagic rockfish daily, of which only one may be a yelloweye rockfish. Non-residents may have up to four fish in possession, and no more than two may be yelloweye rockfish. Nonresidents also have an annual limit of two yelloweye rockfish, which must be recorded in ink on the back of a fishing license or harvest record card.
The regulations do not apply to pelagic or shallow-water rockfish.
The regulations remain unchanged because officials achieved their targets for last year’s season with identical regulations, Fleming said.
Given that non-pelagic rockfish inhabit deeper waters, they’re more likely to be caught in outside waters, than inside, Fleming said.
The stricter regulations exist because the deepwater fish don’t fair well when brought up to shallower waters, Fleming said.
“We have quite conservative regulations with rockfish because the release mortality was considered,” he said. “Basically, if you bring them up to the surface” they die.
Some deepwater rockfish have been known to be able to repressurize and survive, but only if released in deeper waters, Fleming said.
“Basically, if you’re wasting a fish that’s a bad thing,” he said.