Relationship between abundance of juvenile rockfishes (Sebastes spp.) and environmental variables documented off northern California and potential mechanisms for the covariation


Laidig, Thomas E., James R. Chess, and Daniel F. Howard
Cover date: 

We estimated annual abundance of juvenile blue (Sebastes mystinus), yellowtail (S. flavidus), and black (S. melanops) rockfish off northern California over 21 years and evaluated the relationship of abundance to oceanographic variables (sea level anomaly, nearshore temperature, and offshore Ekman transport). Although mean annual abundance was highly variable (0.01−181 fish/minute), trends were similar for the three species. Sea level anomaly and nearshore temperature had the strongest relationship with interannual variation in rockfish abundance, and offshore Ekman transport did not correlate with abundance. Oceanographic events occurring in February and March (i.e., during the larval stage) had the strongest relationship with juvenile abundance, which indicates that year-class strength is determined during the larval stage. Also of note, the annual abundance of juvenile yellowtail rockfish was positively correlated with year-class strength of adult yellowtail rockfish; this finding would indicate the importance of studying juvenile abundance surveys for management purposes.