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MESA: Grenadiers

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Giant grenadier caught on AFSC longline survey
Giant grenadier caught on AFSC longline survey.

Grenadiers (Family Macrouridae) are deep-sea fishes related to hakes and cods that occur world-wide in all oceans. Also known as “rattails”, they are especially abundant in waters of the continental slope, but some species are found at abyssal depths. At least seven species of grenadiers are known to occur in Alaskan waters, but only three are commonly found at depths shallow enough to be encountered in commercial fishing operations or in fish surveys: giant grenadier (Albatrossia pectoralis), Pacific grenadier (Coryphaenoides acrolepis), and popeye grenadier (Coryphaenoides cinereus). Of these, giant grenadier has the shallowest depth distribution and the largest apparent biomass, and hence is by far the most frequently caught grenadier in Alaska. This species ranges from Baja California Mexico around the arc of the north Pacific to Japan, including the Bering Sea, and it is the largest in size of all the world’s grenadiers. In Alaska, it is especially abundant on the continental slope in waters 400-1000 m depth, where it is the dominant species in terms of biomass and therefore of great ecological importance. Virtually all the catch of giant grenadier in Alaska has been taken as bycatch in fisheries directed at other species, particularly sablefish and Greenland turbot. Although giant grenadier do not appear to be overfished at present, their slow growth, longevity, and deep-sea habitat make them particularly vulnerable to overfishing. Consequently, fishery scientists need to continue monitoring these fish, especially if catches increase in the future.

Cara Rodgveller
Auke Bay Laboratories
Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries

Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute
17109 Pt Lena Loop Rd
Juneau AK 99801


Featured Research, Publications, Posters, Reports, and Activities

  • RODGVELLER, C. J., C. E. HUTCHINSON, J. P. HARRIS, S. C. VULSTEK, and C. M. GUTHRIE, III. 2017. Otolith shape variability and associated body growth differences in giant grenadier, Albatrossia pectoralis. PLOS ONE 12:e0180020.   Online.
  • CLAUSEN, D. M., and C. J. RODGVELLER. 2013. Deep-water longline experimental survey for giant grenadier, Pacific grenadier, and sablefish in the western Gulf of Alaska. U.S. Dep. Commer., NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-AFSC-247, 30 p. (.pdf, 3.97 MB).  Online.
  • RODGVELLER, C. J., D. M. CLAUSEN, J. J. NAGLER, and C. HUTCHINSON. 2010. Reproductive characteristics and mortality of female giant grenadiers in the northern Pacific Ocean. Mar. Coastal Fish. 2:73-82. (.pdf, 642 KB).  Online.
  • CLAUSEN, D. M. 2008. The giant grenadier in Alaska. In A. M. Orlov and T. Iwamoto (editors), Grenadiers of the world oceans: biology, stock assessment, and fisheries. American Fisheries Society Symposium 63: 413-450
  • GOA/BSAI Grenadiers SAFE report (2010) (.pdf).

See the publications and poster databases for additional listings.


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