ADFG Announces Rockfish Limit, Season Reduction In Prince William Sound

The following press release is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

Black Rockfish photo by Kip Evans (NOAA)

Rockfish Limits and Seasons Reduced in Prince William Sound

(Anchorage) – In favor of protecting rockfish populations and ensuring sport fishing opportunities in the future, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is reducing the rockfish bag and possession limit in Prince William Sound from 4 per day, 8 in possession to 3 per day, 6 in possession, of which only 1 per day, 1 in possession can be a nonpelagic rockfish. In addition, yelloweye rockfish may not be retained from April 1 – June 30, 2024. Prince William Sound is all marine waters east of Cape Fairfield and west of Cape Suckling.

The harvest of rockfish in Prince William Sound has been increasing in recent years. Pelagic rockfish harvest levels are at an all-time high in Prince William Sound with black rockfish being the dominant species harvested. Declines have been detected in the biological compositions of black rockfish such as age, length, and weight. The changes in the biological composition could be an indication of a change in the population structure, likely due to high levels of harvest overall and increasing harvests on younger fish. In addition, preliminary stock assessment data for yelloweye rockfish indicate that the recent levels of harvest may not be sustainable into the future. A reminder to anglers that the use of a deepwater release is not only mandatory when releasing rockfish, but it is a valuable tool to increase survival.

“We implemented a similar restriction in 2023 and estimate that we had a 28% decrease in harvest of yelloweye and a 24% decrease in the harvest of pelagic rockfish. By implementing a seasonal closure for yelloweye rockfish from April 1 – June 30, these fish will be able to have the opportunity to have a successful reproductive event and harvest will likely be reduced by a similar amount,” stated Area Management Biologist Brittany Blain-Roth.

For rockfish species identification and rockfish deepwater release information visit our website.

For more information, please contact Area Management Biologist Brittany Blain-Roth 907-267-2186 or Assistant Area Management Biologist Donald Arthur at 907-267-2225.