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Ben Frable, Brian Sidlauskas, and collaborators from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and California State used genetic and morphological evidence to recognize the Deacon Rockfish (Sebastes diaconus) as a distinct, commercially important species native to the North Pacific between northern California and southern British Columbia. The species was previously conflated with Blue Rockfish (Sebastes mystinus), and stock assessments and biological information up until 2015 are of uncertain value because they are based on a mix of the two species. As a direct result of this work, the most recent version of the Oregon Conservation Strategy highlights the need to fill several data gaps to ensure effective monitoring of the newly described species, including the need for new information on “population status, trends, and stock delineation” and “fishery-independent population monitoring.”
The publication of the new species has led the Pacific Fishery Management Council to recognize Blue and Deacon Rockfishes as part of a “mixed stock complex” in the 2017 stock assessment, and caused the National Marine Fisheries Service to launch an extensive genetic analysis to refine our knowledge of the geographic and temporal distribution of both species included in the mixed stock.
Did you know? The name Sebastes diaconus is derived from the Latinized ancient Greek διa;κονος, the name for an acolyte or assistant to a priest. This name complements the species name of S. mystinus, which was intended to mean “priest” (Jordan and Evermann, 1898).
Frable, B. W., D. W. Wagman, T. N. Frierson, A. Aguilar and B. L. Sidlauskas 2015. A new species of Sebastes (Scorpaeniformes: Sebastidae) from the northeastern Pacific, with a redescription of the blue rockfish, S. mystinus (Jordan and Gilbert, 1881). Fishery Bulletin 113: 355-377.
Dick, E.J., A. Berger, J. Bizzarro, K. Bosley, J. Cope, J. Field, L. Gilbert-Horvath, N. Grunloh, M. Ivens- Duran, R. Miller, K. Privitera-Johnson, and B.T. Rodomsky. 2017. The Combined Status of Blue and Deacon Rockfishes in U.S. Waters off California and Oregon in 2017. Pacific Fishery Management Council, Portland, OR. Available from https://www.pcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Blue-Deacon_Assessment_2017_Final.pdf