(C. H. Eigenmann & R. S. Eigenmann, 1889)
Distribution and biology
The cowcod is one of the largest rockfish species, reaching almost 39 inches (1 m) in total length and may live up to 55 years. Like other species of their genus, cowcod are internal fertilizers. Reproduction occurs in winter an early spring, and larvae spend about 100 days as plankton. Females mature at 13 inches (32cm).
The main threats to cowcod are overharvesting and bycatch in other fisheries. The species was estimated by the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service to be at 4 to 7% of its unfished biomass in 2000. They were declared overfished in 2000. At current population levels, it will take on the order of 75 to 100+ years to recover the species (with a modest 2-4 metric tons of harvest/bycatch per year).
The cowcod is a U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service Species of Concern. Species of Concern are those species about which the U.S. Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, has some concerns regarding status and threats, but for which insufficient information is available to indicate a need to list the species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
California Fish & Game has closed 5,100 square nautical miles off southern California to all bottomfishing as a cowcod conservation area, and prohibited all cowcod catch.
- Love, Milton, Probably more than you want to know about the Fishes of the Pacific Coast, Santa Barbara: Really Big Press 1996 (Pg. 89-90).