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Research Technical Report

Site Fidelity and Movements of Blue Rockfish (Sebastes mystinus) in Carmel Bay: Implications for the Efficacy of Marine Protected Areas

Donlou, N. (May 2009)

A Capstone Project at California State University, Monterey Bay, 28pp.


There is little information known about the movement patterns of nearshore reef fish species in temperate seas because previous studies have focused on tropical fish. In California, the passage of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) requires the formation of a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). In order to design an effective MPA, it is necessary to know where and when fish move in order to determine the spatial scale needed along the California coastline. This study examines the movement patterns and site fidelity of blue rockfish (Sebastes mystinus), a nearshore rockfish species in Carmel Bay, California. Twenty-one blue rockfish were caught and surgically tagged with passive acoustic transmitters on hook and line fishing and are the basis of research for this study. Thirty-one VR2 acoustic receivers were deployed across rocky reef and kelp habitats in Carmel Bay and monitored these fish for approximately 445 days. Blue rockfish movements varied among individuals. All fish showed high site fidelity to specific groups of receivers at the scale of days and months. Blue rockfish were detected on average at seven separate receivers and the total number of signal detections per fish did not vary among receivers deployed in high and low relief topography. These findings suggest that small reserves may be sufficient to protect blue rockfish if sited appropriately relative to seafloor habitats.