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Black Rockfish (Sebastes melonops)

More than 30 species of rockfish from the genera Sebastes and Sebastolobus are harvested in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska. For management purposes rockfish in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea Aleutian Islands are divided into management assemblages based on their habitat, habits, distribution and, in some cases, to reduce the possibility of overharvest of certain more economically valuable species. Rockfish inhabiting the Gulf of Alaska are separated into three ecological groups: demersal shelf, pelagic shelf, and slope rockfish. Black rockfish are categorized with pelagic shelf rockfish (Sebastes sp.); this assemblage includes dusky (S. variabilis), dark (S. ciliatus), widow (S. entomelas), yellowtail (S. flavidus), and blue rockfish (S. mystinus). Generally groundfish fisheries in the U. S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ; 3–200 nm offshore) are federally managed; however in 1998 management jurisdiction for black and blue rockfish was transferred to the State of Alaska. In the pelagic shelf rockfish assemblage, management emphasis is placed on black rockfish as it is the only species in this group with directed fisheries in state waters.

Fisheries targeting pelagic shelf rockfish or black rockfish occur in Kodiak, Chignik and the South Alaska Peninsula in the Westward region, in Lower Cook Inlet in Central Region, and in Southeast Alaska. Pelagic shelf or black rockfish may be harvested with hand troll or mechanical jig in all regions, and in Southeast Alaska dinglebar is an additional legal gear type. The directed fisheries in Central Region and in Southeast Alaska are small and conservatively managed using guideline harvest limits by area. The fisheries in the Westward Region (Kodiak area) have been managed conservatively using historic catch data, trip limits, and daily bag limits in the past. A stock assessment program is being developed in Westward Region using acoustics as an index of abundance with a goal to incorporate this data into an age-structured model in the future.