SEATTLE, April 28 (UPI) — Plummeting populations in Washington’s Puget Sound have prompted officials to protect three varieties of rockfish.
The government Tuesday put the yelloweye and canary rockfish on the threatened species list and the bocaccio rockfish on the endangered list, The Seattle Times reported Wednesday. The threatened list already included orcas, chinook salmon, chum salmon and bull trout.
Experts say overfishing, pollution, shoreline development and other environmental factors all contribute to shrinking numbers of the fish, which take up to 17 years to reach sexual maturity and can live for a century, the Times said.
Starting in May, fishing is banned for all rockfish from southern Puget Sound to the Canadian border. To further protect rockfish, which can be killed by reeling them up from the depths too quickly, anglers seeking other species will no longer be allowed to fish in waters deeper than 120 feet.
State officials say further restrictions on fish catches may have to be imposed.
“We’re just not ruling anything out right now,” Greg Bargmann of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife told the newspaper.
“I liken it to logging. When you cut down a tree it takes a long time for another to take its place. We didn’t appreciate that slow growth.”
Biologists say stricter limits on fishing for chinook, lingcod and halibut could come down the road.
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