Rockfish limits in Cook Inlet, Resurrection Bay reduced

The change is being implemented in response to substantial increases of rockfish harvest in those areas

A reduction of bag and possession limits for rockfish in Cook Inlet, the North Gulf Coast and Resurrection Bay saltwaters was announced by the State Department of Fish and Game on Thursday last week.

The new limit, which is effective from May 15 until Dec. 31, is three per day and six in possession. Of those, only one per day and two in possession can be nonpelagic. The existing limit is five per day and 10 in possession in Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay; four per day and eight in possession in the North Gulf Coast and Resurrection Bay.

The change is being implemented, according to a release from the department, in response to substantial increases of rockfish harvest in those areas — over 50,000 fish annually from 2019-2022. That number is described in the release as a 300% increase from historical averages.

“Rockfish are slow-growing and long-lived fish that are consistently found in the same locations,” says Cook Inlet Area Management Biologist Mike Booz in the release. “Because of these traits, rockfish are susceptible to overharvest with long periods for recovery, which requires a conservative management approach.”

The increased harvest of rockfish, the release says, is “assumed to be associated with a shifting of effort from Pacific halibut to other species.” The halibut fishery is restricted this year by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2023 charter regulations.

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