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.

In 2007, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) listed Canary rockfish as Threatened. They were given this status based on a combined survey index of the southern part of the Canadian distribution, which indicated there was a population decline of 86 per cent in the 30 years leading up to 2007. Canary rockfish found in the neighbouring waters of the northwestern coast of the United States were declared “overfished” in 1999. Under the Precautionary Approach Framework by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, canary rockfish have been assessed as Cautious. 

Oceana Canada is working to protect Canada’s oceans for species like the Canary rockfish. Find out more about our campaigns and join us in helping to bring abundance back to the ocean.