Although bocaccio (Sebastes paucispinis) was an economically important rockfish species along the west coast of North America, overfishing has reduced the stock to about 7.4% of its former unfished population. In 2003, using a manned research submersible, we conducted fish surveys around eight oil and gas platforms off southern California as part of an assessment of the potential value of these structures as fish habitat. From these surveys, we estimated that there was a minimum of 430,000 juvenile bocaccio at these eight structures. We determined this number to be about 20% of the average number of juvenile bocaccio that survive annually for the geographic range of the species. When these juveniles become adults, they will contribute about one percent (0.8%) of the additional amount of fish needed to rebuild the Pacific Coast population. By comparison, juvenile bocaccio recruitment to nearshore natural nursery grounds, as determined through regional scuba surveys, was low in the same year. This research demonstrates that a relatively small amount of artificial nursery habitat may be quite valuable in rebuilding an overfished species.
Additional publication details
Potential use of offshore marine structures in rebuilding an overfished rockfish species, bocaccio (Sebastes paucispinis)