Bocaccio

Sebastes paucispinis

SARA Status
No Status
NS
Special Concern
SC
Threatened
TH
Endangered
EN
Extirpated
EX

SARA Status

  • No Status NS
  • Special Concern SC
  • Threatened TH
  • Endangered EN
  • Extirpated EX
COSEWIC Status
Not at Risk
NR
Special Concern
SC
Threatened
TH
Endangered
EN
Extirpated
EX

COSEWIC Status

  • Not at Risk NR
  • Special Concern SC
  • Threatened TH
  • Endangered EN
  • Extirpated EX

Description

Bocaccio is one of at least 35 species of rockfish (Sebastes spp.) found in British Columbia. Adults can be olive-orange to brown in colour. When less than 25 centimetres in length, young Bocaccio are light bronze with small brown spots on their sides. Their colour darkens and their spots disappear as they grow. These fish can be distinguished from other rockfish by their long lower jaw. Bocaccio is one of the largest rockfish species and can reach almost one metre in length. Other common names for Bocaccio include: Rock Salmon, Salmon Rockfish, Pacific Red Snapper, Pacific Snapper, Oregon Red Snapper, Oregon Snapper, and Longjaw.

Habitat

Bocaccio are found in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, occurring from the Gulf of Alaska to central Baja California in Mexico. In Canada, Bocaccio are found mainly offshore although they have occasionally been found closer to inshore waters such as the Strait of Georgia, Juan de Fuca Strait, and Queen Charlotte Strait. Bocaccio in Canada have experienced a sharp decline over the last 60 years, and has declined by 28% in the 10-year period since it was first assessed by COSEWIC. The current population is estimated to be over 400,000 individuals.

Boccaccio larvae and young-of-the-year (age 0 fish) live in the upper layers of the ocean for several months. They then settle to bottom habitats in nearshore areas where they form schools. As juveniles mature into adults (around 7 years), they move offshore to greater depths. Adult Bocaccio are usually found above rocky bottoms between 60 to 340 metres deep. Recent science has found that adult Bocaccio may also prefer coral and sponge reefs as habitat.

Threats

Commercial groundfish fisheries are the largest known threat to Bocaccio. Like other rockfish species, Bocaccio have swim bladders which cannot adjust to the sudden changes in pressure that occur when fishing gear brings them to the surface. Bocaccio accidentally caught in fisheries die when they are brought up from depths greater than about 25 to 30 metres. Other research suggests that Bocaccio are also potentially threatened with habitat destruction caused by the long-term use of fishing gear on the ocean floor.

Bocaccio are more susceptible to overfishing because of the species’ life history characteristics, such as late maturity and variable recruitment. As with most other rockfish, offspring survival is variable from year to year. It is dependent on density of adults and ideal environmental conditions. Life history characteristics such as these reduce the species’ ability to recover from decline.

Further Information

In 2004, Fisheries and Oceans Canada worked with the commercial fishing industry to develop a conservation program for Bocaccio. This program required that all the profits earned from catching Bocaccio be directed to programs that support recovery of the species, and began trawl surveys to improve knowledge of Bocaccio and other Pacific groundfish. It also implemented measures to manage fishery impacts such as setting a total allowable catch and specific fishery limits for Bocaccio caught and through restricting the number of groundfish trawl licences. Recovery of the species is also assisted through monitoring of groundfish fisheries which maintains accountability and monitoring for bycatch species.

Mitigation of impacts caused by bottom-contact fishing through management tools may also provide some support for Bocaccio recovery. For example, Fisheries Act closures to protect sensitive benthic areas, Marine Protected Areas, and Rockfish Conservation Areas enable management of bottom-contact fishing to protect groundfish and marine habitat. It is unclear if these areas will benefit Bocaccio recovery, but they may provide some protection for the species and its habitat.

This species is under consideration for listing as Endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available on the Species at Risk Public Registry. Additionally, fisheries protection and pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act provide protection to this species.

To find out if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' website.

Bocaccio

Bocaccio. Photo credit: Mark Conlin

Photo credit: Mark Conlin

Scientific name: Sebastes paucispinis
Taxonomy: Fishes (marine)
SARA Status: Under Consideration
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
Region: Pacific Ocean

Region map

Region map, British Columbia

Did You Know?

A female Bocaccio can produce up to 2,300,000 eggs.

Bocaccio have a long lifespan, with a maximum age of at least 57 years and an average generation time is 20 years.

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