Last weekend, after almost a month without a good fishing trip, I needed a sure thing. The closest thing to a sure thing is getting on my favorite rockfishing boat, the Pacific Islander. The PI’s home is Channel Islands Sportfishing out of Oxnard, California. We fished Santa Rosa island about 26 miles offshore. Captain Steve Virtue always puts us on quality rockfish and I know I’ll go home with a fat sack of fish.

The fact that we can consistently enjoy this fishing trip is due to the conservation efforts to promote the long-term health of this fishery. Find out how we got here and how these awesome fish are finding their way to a restaurant near you.

Dan prepares to release a rockfish using the SeaQualizer.
Dan prepares to release a rockfish using the SeaQualizer.

For West Coast commercial fishermen and seafood lovers, there is reason to cheer. Rockfish, a genus of more than 100 tasty species depleted decades ago by excessive fishing, have rebounded from extreme low numbers in the 1990s.

It’s a conservation and fishery management success story that chefs, distributors and sustainable seafood advocates want the world to hear.

The rub? It’s hard to communicate this success if purveyors continue to misidentify the fish, as many do.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a case of retailers and chefs being shady. A big problem, says chef Rick Moonen, owner of RM Seafood in Las Vegas, is that fish go by different names in different places. Take rockfish, for example.

“On the East Coast, they call striped bass ‘rockfish.’ You offer them a chilipepper,” Moonen says, citing the name of one rockfish species, “and call it a ‘rockfish’ and they’ll think they’re getting a striped bass.”

Photos: Donna Schroeder (top); SoCal Salty (above)