From spiny to colorful, rockfish are real attention grabbers

At Island Seafoods, we love rockfish of all varieties. Certain species are so tasty that they regularly appear on 5-star menus worldwide. There are 100 known species of rockfish, with 33 in Alaska. Alaska Rockfish are lean, tender, and packed with protein. They are also easy to dish up, being well suited for poaching, sautéeing, broiling and grilling. Some varieties aren’t readily available commercially – so buy them direct from Island Seafoods when you can!

Here are some varieties that we process at Island Seafoods:

Black Rockfish

Black rockfish can grow to about 11 lbs, and are typically found in rugged and rocky habitat. This open-water species is more mobile than others and has been found to migrate vertically in the water – often with sunrise or sunset. Black rockfish have a mottled gray-black body, with dorsal spines that are slightly venomous (we don’t eat that part!). They can live up to 50 years. 

Yelloweye Rockfish

One of the largest rockfish species, yelloweye can grow up to 3 feet long, making them a prize catch. Brilliantly colored in tones of yellow, orange and red, these rockfish also sport a yellow eye, thus the name. They’ve also been called Pacific red snapper and yellow belly. Yelloweye are vulnerable to overfishing, so Alaska carefully manages the fishery to ensure its sustainability over time.


The lifespan of a rougheye can be numbered in centuries, with some living up to 205 years old! First discovered in the Aleutians, Rougheye get their name from the short spines on the lower side of their eyes. They can also be quite large, between 32 and 38 inches. They are bright red or pink, with black or gray patches.


A close cousin to the rougheye, the shortraker is orange-pink with reddish fins. They are also long-lived and can weigh up to 50 lbs. Shortrakers filter food through gill rakers, which is how they get their name. They are most abundant between 990 and 1,650 feet, with older fish found in deeper water than younger ones.

Behind the scenes

Check out our Facebook page, Vimeo Channel and Instagram feed, where we post photos and videos showcasing our dynamic seafood industry. Here’s a look inside Island Seafoods as our processers fillet black rockfish, rougheye, shortraker, and ling cod.

Source: Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Alaska Fisheries Science Center