Review of Bocaccio and Chilipepper Rockfish Assessments

On June 25-29, 2007, the SWFSC Fisheries Ecology Division hosted a Stock Assessment Review (STAR) Panel to consider assessments of bocaccio and chilipepper rockfish. The review panel was chaired by David Sampson (OSU and PFMC-SSC), and included Kevin Piner (SWFSC FRD) and two CIE members, Patrick Cordue (New Zealand) and Norm Hall (Australia). The two assessments will be considered for final acceptance by the PFMC-SSC at its September meeting.

Alec MacCall was author of the bocaccio assessment, and did not modify the specifications of the previously existing model. The recreational CPUE indexes of abundance are no longer usable because of restrictive fishery management (decreased bag limits and closed areas), so that the CalCOFI larval abundance index is the single remaining indication of long-term trends. Stock rebuilding is progressing well, and spawning potential has now doubled since rebuilding was initiated in 2000. However, the bocaccio stock is still less than halfway to the rebuilding target of 40% of the estimated unfished abundance, and rebuilding is not expected to be complete until the 2020's.

John Field was author of the chilipepper assessment. Although chilipepper rockfish is historically one of the most important (by volume) target rockfish species for California commercial fisheries, this was the first attempt at assessing the stock in nine years. The model included considerable catch at age and catch at length data, as well as indices of relative abundance from the commercial trawl fishery, recreational fisheries, and fisheries-independent trawl surveys. The model also included time-varying growth of chilipepper rockfish, with growth rates being closely related to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation Index. The review panel recommended additional research to directly integrate climate indices into growth projections for chilipepper. Results suggest that the stock has more than doubled in abundance since the late 1990's, primarily as a result of an extraordinarily strong 1999 year class, and is currently at approximately 70% of the unfished spawning stock biomass (where the unfished spawning biomass is estimated at approximately 34,000 tons). (July 9, 2007)