PIER partners with NOAA to kick off Opah research on poorly-studied fish off the California coast
A recent collaboration between PIER and researchers from the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center and CICESE seeks to learn more about an important but poorly understood species that commonly occurs off the coast of California. This work is made possible by invaluable support from the NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy program (clickable link to SK webpage: FY21 S-K Summary of All Proposals.pdf (noaa.gov) and the Offield Family Foundation, and by collaborative regional partners in the US and Mexico.
The main objectives laid out in the work plan is to better characterize opah habitat, document movements and connectivity with neighboring stocks, and begin to collect important data necessary for effective management. A primary component of the collaborative study will focus on collecting basic biological information, such as how fast opah grow and how old they get, which can be used to assist with resource management.
Another overarching goal of the project will be to develop hook-and-line fishing practices to specifically target opah and provide local fishers with another sustainable approach to harvest a valuable California resource. All healthy opah captured during the study will be outfitted with various electronic tag technologies to learn more about seasonal movement patterns and migration pathways across the eastern Pacific. Fine-scale data on regional depth distribution will also aid in tailoring fishing gear to more specifically target opah and avoid sensitive bycatch species.
This research is being performed through the support of the NMFS Saltonstall Kennedy Grant Program and the Offield Family Foundation.