Shortraker rockfish are among the longest-lived marine species on Earth, having been recorded as old as 157 years. The largest of all Sebastes rockfish, Shortraker can be difficult to distinguish from several other species, especially its close cousin, the Rougheye rockfish. Indeed, there are more than 70 rockfish species in the eastern Pacific. The Shortraker gets its name from its most distinguishing feature: knob-tipped stubby gill rakers, which are used for filter feeding tiny prey.
When viewed underwater, Shortrakers appear white with pinkish-orange to red blotches. Out of water, they take on a pink to orange-pink colour with reddish fins typically edged in black (like its Rougheye cousin). This deepwater species ranges from northern Japan and the Bering Sea down the North American coast to southern California. Often marketed as “Pacific Ocean perch,” their fillets are bright white with a delicate flavour.
Shortraker rockfish are not only the largest of the Sebastes, they are also one of the longest lived. Adults are believed to reach maturity at somewhere between nine and 12 years of age. Once mature, mating occurs in the fall with females generally spawning between March and July of the following year. Live larvae are released at depths of between 1,000 to 1,600 feet (300 to 500 m). As they mature, Shortrakers move deeper and deeper into the ocean: older shortrakers are found in deeper water than younger ones. They tend to live alone or in small groups in rocky areas along the continental slope, near boulder fields and on silted or cobbled bottoms, at depths of up to 4,000 feet (1,200 m). They can grow to over a metre in length and upwards of 51 lbs. (23 kg).
This fishery uses a large cone-shaped net that is dragged along the seafloor to catch fish. As the net is towed at low speed, hydrodynamic forces push two "otter boards" outwards opening the mouth of the net and capturing fish in its path.