Statewide Rockfish Initiative
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game monitors sport and commercial rockfish harvest throughout the State. To accomplish this, Department port samplers are stationed at popular sport fish landing sites as well as at commercial fish processing facilities. Port samplers are tasked with collecting biological samples as well as angler effort data. If you have been asked for the carcasses of your harvested fish or answered questions about your fishing trip you have participated in one of the Departments port sampling projects. Two large Sport Fish port sampling programs operate in the State, one in Southeast Alaska and one in Southcentral Alaska. The Department’s port sampling programs collectively have a rich dataset stretching from the early 1980’s or 1990’s to the present day.
A lot of information is necessary for Area Management biologists and the Board of Fisheries to set Sport and Commercial harvest limits throughout Alaska. Port sampling programs play an integral role in the management process by answering some of the following important questions regarding the Sport and Commercial rockfish harvest:
- What species of rockfish are being harvested, and what proportion of the harvest do they represent? We call this species composition.
- Has the proportion of large and small fish for each species changed over time? We call this length composition.
- Has the proportion of females vs. males for each species changed over time? We call this sex composition.
- Has the proportion of older and younger fish for each species changed over time? We call this age composition.
- Has the location of harvest or fishing effort changed over time?
- Have the commercial fleet or sport anglers been targeting rockfish more or less frequently over time?
Without Department port sampler data there would be large gaps in our knowledge of the rockfish harvest in Alaska. So next time you are asked to contribute to our data collection process please be courteous to your local port sampler and provide them with the information requested.