Banner Photo: Quillback rockfish, Sebastes maliger. (Credit: Laura Borden)

2020 Rating

2020 Rationale

No increasing trends have been observed; however, there are some positive signs, such as sightings of schools of juvenile yellowtail rockfish. Improvements are minor or slow; enforcement of rules and laws needs improvement. (Previously Rockfish, Lingcod)

2017 Rating

2017 Rationale


Rockfish populations in Howe Sound do not appear to have rebounded since
fishing restrictions and conservation areas were introduced. More research
and longer-term data are needed to determine whether protected areas have
been correctly placed and will have a lasting impact.


Despite the closure of commercial fisheries in the 1990s, lingcod stocks have failed to rebound significantly in Howe Sound. Researchers and citizen scientists continue to monitor populations carefully through annual egg mass surveys, but threats remain.

The following is an excerpt from the full updated article. Download the full 2020 article for all content and references.

Critical Fish Stocks: an update on rockfish and lingcod

Authors: Laura Borden, Research Biologist, Howe Sound Conservation and Research Team, Ocean Wise Research Institute

Jeff Marliave, Senior Research Scientist, Howe Sound Conservation and Research Team, Ocean Wise Research Institute

Reviewer: Dana Haggarty, Inshore Rockfish and Lingcod Program Head, Stock Assessment and Research Division, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)

Excerpt from 2020 article

Despite various commercial and recreational fishing closures, lingcod and rockfish populations in Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound have been depleted for many years and show little sign of recovery. Ongoing monitoring of both groups is vital to assess the impact of protection measures on populations and determine if further conservation measures need to be taken.

Read the full article to see what else is happening.

Background: Lingcod, Ophiodon elongatus. (Credit: Laura Borden)

What’s been done since 2017?

The table below reports on progress made on recommended actions from the previous 2017 article, where identified. Many of these require ongoing action.

2017 Action Action Taken
Individual and Organization Actions
Support the annual rockfish/lingcod abundance/egg mass survey by spreading awareness and contributing dive surveys to the Vancouver Aquarium. Citizen science participation has remained strong for both surveys – public talks to promote surveys and discuss conservation of critical fishes have been conducted by Ocean Wise staff.
Commit more resources to monitoring rockfish populations in Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCAs) with suitable habitat. New assessment of effectiveness of existing RCAs and proposal for improvements have been undertaken (DFO:

What can you do?

A detailed overview of recommended actions relating to climate change is included in The path to zero carbon municipalities. In some cases, no progress was identified on previous recommended actions; these remain listed below. Additional actions marked as NEW also follow.

action-individual Individual and Organization Actions:

    • Follow fishing closures for the recreational fishery and report any illegal fishing to 604-666-3500 (1-800-465-4336). Even if not involved in fishing, educate yourself on fishing practices so you are able to report poaching

action-governmentGovernment Action and Policy:

    • Commit more resources to monitoring and enforcing compliance with fishing regulations in RCAs.
    • Work with the Vancouver Aquarium to help encourage awareness of and participation in the annual Lingcod Egg Mass Survey.
    • Simplify regulations in the RCAs.
    • Increase public education and awareness of closures to commercial and recreational fisheries, and the status of rockfish/lingcod populations.
    • NEW Follow up on the 2019 DFO assessment of existing RCAs to adjust boundaries or move RCAs to better protect suitable rockfish habitat where deemed necessary.
    • NEW Establish citizen enforcement officers throughout the Sound, who are granted limited enforcement powers, such as checking catch size, species, and fishing method, and handing out fines for fisheries infringements
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