• Inter-decadal change in sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, growth and maturity in the Northeast Pacific Ocean

      Howard, Katy B.; Adkison, Milo D.; Hillgruber, Nicola; Sigler, Michael F. (2008-08)
      Errors in growth and maturity estimates can drastically affect the spawner-per-recruit threshold used to recommend commercial fish catch quotas. Growth and maturity parameters for Alaskan sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, have not been updated for stock assessment purposes for 20 years, even though sablefish aging has continued. In this study, the old length-stratified data set (1981-1993) was updated and corrected for bias. In addition, newer, randomly collected samples (1996-2004) were analyzed, and new length-at-age, weight-at-age, and maturity-at-age and length parameters were estimated. A comparison of the two datasets showed that in recent years, sablefish are growing larger and maturing later and that growth and maturity differ somewhat among regions. The updated growth information improves data fits in the sablefish stock assessment model. It also provides results that are biologically reasonable. These updated and improved estimates of sablefish growth and maturity help ensure the continued proper management of this commercially important species in Alaskan waters.
    • Patterns and environmental drivers of juvenile sablefish movement in Southeast Alaska

      Ehresmann, Rhea K.; Beaudreau, Anne H.; Seitz, Andrew C.; Green, Kristen M. (2018-08)
      Sablefish Anoplopoma fimbria are a long-lived, deep-dwelling groundfish that inhabit the North Pacific Ocean, ranging from northern Mexico to the Gulf of Alaska to Japan, supporting one of Alaska's most valuable commercial fisheries. After decades of heavy fishing, declines in the Sablefish population led to significant fishing restrictions but few strong year classes developed in recent years. Most Sablefish research has focused on the larval, near-surface juvenile, or adult life history stages, but few studies have examined post-settlement juvenile Sablefish in nearshore areas. This study used acoustic telemetry to understand the presence and movement of juvenile Sablefish in a nursery area in Southeast Alaska. Throughout the summer and fall of 2015 and 2016, 40 juvenile Sablefish implanted with acoustic transmitters were monitored using an array of eight fixed receivers in St. John Baptist Bay, Baranof Island, Alaska. We quantified the movement patterns of 28 juvenile Sablefish using displacement from the head of the bay, daily distance traveled, daily duration within the bay, unique movement types among individuals, and movement in relation to environmental variables. From these analyses, we show that juvenile Sablefish exhibit fidelity to the middle-head region of the bay, display relatively high rates of daily movement and residence, demonstrate three distinct movement patterns, and are influenced by environmental variables like water temperature, diel state, moon phase, and day of year. Our results show that juvenile Sablefish exhibit seasonality in movements as they progressively emigrate from the bay throughout the summer and fall. Certain factors were found to increase the likelihood of movement for juvenile Sablefish, perhaps allowing them to remain in suitable environmental conditions. This study fills a gap in our knowledge of Sablefish early life history and reinforces the importance of nursery areas like St. John Baptist Bay for juvenile Sablefish prior to recruitment into commercial fisheries.