Sebastes is a genus of fish in the family Sebastidae (though some include this in the Scorpaenidae), most of which have the common name of rockfish. A few are called ocean perch, sea perch or redfish, instead. Most of the Sebastes species live in the north Pacific, although two (S. capensis and S. oculatus) live in the South Pacific/Atlantic and four (S. fasciatus, S. mentella, S. norvegicus, and S. viviparus) live in the North Atlantic. The coast off Southern California is the area of highest rockfish diversity, with 56 species living in the Southern California Bight.

Temporal range: 33.9–0 Ma
Early Oligocene to present[1]
Sebastes ruberrimus
Scientific classification

G. Cuvier, 1829
Type species
Sebastes norvegicus[3]

The fossil record of rockfish goes back to the Miocene, with unequivocal whole body fossils and otoliths from California and Japan (although fossil otoliths from Belgium, "Sebastes" weileri, may push the record back as far as the early Oligocene).

Rockfish are important sport and commercial fish, and many species have been overfished. As a result, seasons are tightly controlled in many areas. Sebastes species are sometimes fraudulently substituted for the more expensive northern red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus).[4]


Rockfish range from the intertidal zone to almost 3,000 m (9,800 ft) deep, usually living benthically on various substrates, often (as the name suggests) around rock outcrops. Some rockfish species are very long-lived, amongst the longest-living fish on earth, with several species known to surpass 100 years of age, and a maximum reported age of 205 years for S. aleutianus.[5]

Ecotoxicology, radioecology

Like all carnivores, these fish can bioaccumulate some pollutants or radionuclides such as cesium. Highly radioactive rockfish have been caught in a port near Fukushima city, Japan, not far from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, nearly 2 years after the nuclear disaster (ex: 107000 Bq/kg[6] (2013-02-12); 116000 Bq/kg[6] (2013-02-13) and 132000Bq/kg[6] (2013-02-13), respectively 1070, 1160, and 1320 times more than the maximum allowed by Japanese authorities (as updated on April 1, 2012)[6]


The 109 recognized extant species in this genus are:


  1. Sepkoski, J. (2002). "A compendium of fossil marine animal genera". Bulletins of American Paleontology. 364: 560. Archived from the original on 2009-02-20.
  2. "Scorpaeniformes". Paleobiology Database.
  3. Kendall, A.W.Jr. "An Historical Review of Sebastes Taxonomy and Systematics" (PDF). NOAA.
  4. "Regulatory Fish Encyclopedia". U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  5. Cailliet, G.M., Andrews, A.H., Burton, E.J., Watters, D.L., Kline, D.E. & Ferry-Graham, L.A. (2001). "Age determination and validation studies of marine fishes: do deep-dwellers live longer?". Experimental Gerontology. 36 (4–6): 739–764. doi:10.1016/s0531-5565(00)00239-4.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. TEPCO (2013): Nuclide Analysis Results of Fish and Shellfish (The Ocean Area Within 20km Radius of Fukushima Daiichi NPS <1/13>.
  7. Frable, B.W., Wagman, D.W., Frierson, T.N., Aguilar, A. & Sidlauskas, B.L. (2015). "A new species of Sebastes (Scorpaeniformes: Sebastidae) from the northeastern Pacific, with a redescription of the blue rockfish, S. mystinus (Jordan and Gilbert, 1881)" (PDF). Fishery Bulletin. 113 (4): 355–377. doi:10.7755/fb.113.4.1.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  8. Kai, Y., Muto, N., Noda, T., Orr, J.W. & Nakabo, T. (2013): First Record of the Rockfish Sebastes melanops from the Western North Pacific, with Comments on its Synonymy (Osteichthyes: Scorpaenoidei: Sebastidae). Species Diversity, 18 (2): 175-182.
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