Giant sea bass are not recovering
Posted by Robert Miller | , United States
Giant sea bass (Stereolepis gigas) are the largest reef fish in California, used to be abundant, but are now ecologically extinct and listed as Critically Endangered. Since 1981 California law has prohibited both the recreational and commercial take of giant sea bass in California, with the significant exception that commercial gill net and trammel net fishers could take and sell two fish per trip. Also, one fish can be taken in Mexico and landed in California, and commercial and recreation fishing for the species is legal in Mexico. AIn California, numbers of the fish seem to be slightly increasing, but are still rarely sighted in most places. There is no data on the population and all the while these endangered fish are being sold. We need to know how and why the gillnet bycatch of this endangered and unique species is happening and how it can be prevented. We need to know if spawning aggregations in Mexico are under threat, and how much of the US population comes from Mexico or migrates back and forth. Such knowledge has been invaluable for protecting migrating bird species but is almost never considered for ocean species.