Radiometric validation of age, growth, and longevity for the blackgill rockfish (Sebastes melanostomus)

Melissa M. Stevens, Allen H. Andrews, Gregor M. Cailliet, Kenneth H. Coale, Craig Campbell Lundstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As nearshore fish populations decline, many commercial fishermen have shifted fishing effort to deeper continental slope habitats to target fishes for which biological information is limited. One such fishery that developed in the northeastern Pacific Ocean in the early 1980s was for the blackgill rockfish (Sebastes melanostomus), a deep-dwelling (300-800 m) species that congregates over rocky pinnacles, mainly from southern California to southern Oregon. Growth zone-derived age estimates from otolith thin sections were compared to ages obtained from the radioactive disequilibria of 210Pb, in relation to its parent, 226Ra, in otolith cores of blackgill rockfish. Age estimates were validated up to 41 years, and a strong pattern of agreement supported a longevity exceeding 90 years. Age and length data fitted to the von Bertalanffy growth function indicated that blackgill rockfish are slow-growing (& = 0.040 females, 0.068 males) and that females grow slower than males, but reach a greater length. Age at 50% maturity, derived from previously published length-atmaturity estimates, was 17 years for males and 21 years for females. The results of this study agree with general life history traits already recognized for many Sebastes species, such as long life, slow growth, and late age at maturation. These traits may undermine the sustainability of blackgill rockfish populations when heavy fishing pressure, such as that which occurred in the 1980s, is applied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)711-722
Number of pages12
JournalFishery Bulletin
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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