Seafood Watch - Seafood Guide


© Monterey Bay Aquarium
Rockfish Good Alternative: These are good alternatives to the best choices column. There are some concerns with how they are fished or farmed – or with the health of their habitats due to other human impacts. Pacific & Red Snapper, Rock Cod, Pacific Ocean Perch Pacific Handline
Rockfish Avoid: Avoid these products for now. These fish come from sources that are overfished or fished or farmed in ways that harm the environment. Pacific & Red Snapper, Rock Cod, Pacific Ocean Perch Pacific Trawl
Rockfish, Black Best Choice: These fish are abundant, well managed and fished or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. Black Bass, Black Rock Cod, Black Snapper, Sea Bass California, Oregon, Washington Handline

Rockfish, Handline or Trawl, Pacific

In recent years, reduced fishing has allowed many rockfish populations to recover from low levels. Gear concerns remain, however - trawl-caught rockfish should still be avoided. Most rockfish caught by handline are generally a "Good Alternative" and handline caught black rockfish from the U.S. is a "Best Choice."

Consumer Note

Buyer beware: rockfish is often mislabeled as red snapper or Pacific snapper. There are no true snappers on the U.S. West Coast. Rockfish is also a market name for striped bass.


More than 70 species of rockfish live off the U.S. West Coast. Most rockfish are extremely long-lived, deep-water fish. Scientists estimate a lifespan of 100-200 years for some species. They are slow-growing and mature late in life and many are caught before they have had a chance to reproduce. These traits make them very vulnerable to overfishing.

Not surprisingly, decades of heavy fishing sent rockfish populations plummeting. In addition, bottom trawling, the most widely used method for catching rockfish, damaged seafloor habitats and caught large quantities of bycatch. In recent years, fishing pressure has been reduced and many rockfish populations are now recovering.

Consumers need to ask about the gear used to catch rockfish; handline caught black rockfish from the U.S. is the "Best Choice," other species caught by handline are generally "Good Alternatives" and trawl-caught rockfish should be avoided.

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How fish are caught or farmed makes a difference. Fishing boat