Indigenous Rockfish Use and Modern Management on the Pacific Coast: Insights from Ancient DNA

RODRIGUES, Antonia - Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University
Iain MCKECHNIE - Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon & Hakai Institute, Simon Fraser University
Dongya YANG - Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University

Rockfish (Sebastes spp.) play a significant economic, cultural and ecological role in Northeast Pacific fisheries today and dramatic declines in rockfish populations have resulted in several recent management efforts through marine reserves and closures. Zooarchaeological evidence throughout the Pacific coast indicate rockfish are ubiquitous; however, the morphological similarities of the numerous species in this genus prevents conventional species identifications and hinders our ability to link indigenous rockfish use with modern studies of rockfish ecology and conservation.

This study is the first investigation of ancient DNA from archaeological rockfish remains, genetically identifying rockfish species from five archaeological sites (ca. 2500-250 BP) in a modern marine protected area. We use this approach to provide a clearer view of indigenously managed rockfish fisheries in deep time and highlight the relevance of such evidence in contextualizing modern day rockfish conservation efforts.