Canary Rockfish | Oceana Canada

Canadian Marine Life Encyclopedia

Canary Rockfish

Sebastes pinniger

Also known as

Red snapper, fantail, canary, orange rockfish, rock cod


Northeastern Pacific from the Gulf of Alaska, USA to Baja California, Mexico


Rocky bottoms with complex structures

Feeding Habits

Active predator

Conservation Status



Order Scorpaeniformes (scorpionfishes & flatheads); Family Sebastidae (rockfishes, rockcods & thorny


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Canary rockfish are one of the top three most commonly harvested rockfish, caught in both commercial and sport fisheries. They have been harvested for decades, which has unfortunately greatly reduced their population size across the coast of British Columbia. They are also at risk from fishing pressures due to high levels of post-release mortality, dying after being caught and released by fishers, from both recreational fisheries and as incidental catch in commercial fisheries. This is due to “barotrauma,” a phenomenon in which the eyes and other organs of deepwater fishes greatly expand and can erupt, caused by the sudden change in pressure as they are brought from high pressure, deepwater habitats, to low-pressures at the surface of the ocean.

Canary rockfish are one of the larger rockfish, with a compressed body, large head and a slightly curved profile. They have bright orange mottling over a light grey, with a light grey lateral line and three distinct orange stripes on their head. Canary rockfish have several hard spines along their back directly in front of a flat dorsal fin, and all of their fins are a bright yellowish-orange. They are typically 55-60 centimetres long, but can grow to be as long as 75 centimetres.