A Tale About A Journey From Disaster to Recovery.
Yellowtail rockfish range from San Diego, California to Dutch Harbor, Alaska. The species, with its long head and protruding jaw, can grow to 26 inches and live to be 64 years old.
While the species is vulnerable to fishing pressure, better management on the West Coast is keeping populations healthy. Since, 2011 a new management program has helped West Coast fishermen stay within catch limits and avoid overfished species, while additional rules prohibit fishing in sensitive areas.
In 2000, the U.S. Pacific groundfish fishery, of which Yellowtail and our other featured West Coast species are part, was on the verge of collapse, and the federal government declared it a disaster. Today the same fishery has rebounded, providing enough certified sustainable seafood to satisfy 17 million Americans for an entire year.
Fishermen, regulators and conservationists, including Environmental Defense Fund, worked together to design a catch share plan that fishery managers adopted in 2008. It went into operation in 2011. Fishermen were central to helping determine sustainable catch limits and appropriate shares of the catch. The discard rate, or amount of bycatch and wasted fish, in this fishery has plummeted 75%, bringing the total discards down to about 5% of the catch—a very low number given the size of the fishery and the diversity of species.