The Ragfish, Icosteus aenigmaticus Lockington, 1880: A Synthesis of Historical and Recent Records From the North Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea

Allen , George H. (2001) The Ragfish, Icosteus aenigmaticus Lockington, 1880: A Synthesis of Historical and Recent Records From the North Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea. Marine Fisheries Review, 63(4), pp. 1-31.

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Abstract

Knowledge of the distribution and biology of the ragfish, Icosteus aenigmaticus, an aberrant deepwater perciform of the North Pacific Ocean, has increased slowly since the first description of the species in the 1880’s which was based on specimens retrieved from a fish monger’s table in San Francisco, Calif. As a historically rare, and subjectively unattractive appearing noncommercial species, ichthyologists have only studied ragfish from specimens caught and donated by fishermen or by the general public. Since 1958, I have accumulated catch records of >825 ragfish. Specimens were primarily from commercial fishermen and research personnel trawling for bottom and demersal species on the continental shelves of the eastern North Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, and the western Pacific Ocean, as well as from gillnet fisheries for Pacific salmon, Oncorhynchus spp., in the north central Pacific Ocean. Available records came from four separate sources: 1) historical data based primarily on published and unpublished literature (1876–1990), 2) ragfish delivered fresh to Humboldt State University or records available from the California Department of Fish and Game of ragfish caught in northern California and southern Oregon bottom trawl fisheries (1950–99), 3) incidental catches of ragfish observed and recorded by scientific observers of the commercial fisheries of the eastern Pacific Ocean and catches in National Marine Fisheries Service trawl surveys studying these fisheries from 1976 to 1999, and 4) Japanese government research on nearshore fisheries of the northwestern Pacific Ocean (1950–99). Limited data on individual ragfish allowed mainly qualitative analysis, although some quantitative analysis could be made with ragfish data from northern California and southern Oregon. This paper includes a history of taxonomic and common names of the ragfish, types of fishing gear and other techniques recovering ragfish, a chronology of range extensions into the North Pacific and Bering Sea, reproductive biology of ragfish caught by trawl fisheries off northern California and southern Oregon, and topics dealing with early, juvenile, and adult life history, including age and growth, food habits, and ecology. Recommendations for future study are proposed, especially on the life history of juvenile ragfish (5–30 cm FL) which remains enigmatic.

Item Type: Article
Title: The Ragfish, Icosteus aenigmaticus Lockington, 1880: A Synthesis of Historical and Recent Records From the North Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea
Personal Creator/Author:
CreatorsEmail
Allen , George H.
Refereed: Yes
Journal or Publication Title: Marine Fisheries Review
Volume: 63
Number: 4
Page Range: pp. 1-31
Date: 2001
ISSN: 0090-1830
Issuing Agency: United States National Marine Fisheries Service
Subjects: Biology
Ecology
Fisheries
Item ID: 9747
Depositing User: Patti M. Marraro
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2012 13:24
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2012 13:24
URI: http://aquaticcommons.org/id/eprint/9747

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