Sandab – along with flounder, sole, turbot, plaice, and halibut – is a type of flatfish found along the U.S. west coast. Of the four sanddab species in the Pacific, C. sordidus is the largest. They commonly grow to 25 cm long, although some may reach 40 cm. The species ranges from the eastern Gulf of Alaska to Baja California, Mexico. Compared to other flatfishes, Pacific sanddabs mature relatively quickly (2-3 years) and have a shorter lifespan (10-13 years). These lifecycle characteristics can be an asset in helping a population recover from, or protect against, fishing pressure and other factors.Pacific sanddabs prefer sandy bottom habitats less than 150 meters deep, although they are known to inhabit waters as deep as 500 meters. Fishermen off the U.S. west coast target this species and also catch them as bycatch in the commercial bottom trawl fishery. Now that Washington State and California prohibit bottom trawling in state waters, Pacific sanddabs are caught either in state waters off Oregon or in federal waters off all three West Coast states. Overall, catches of flatfish in the West Coast trawl fishery are at their lowest levels since 1950 due to strict restrictions on the fishery to protect overfished rockfish.
Very little is known about the biology and status of Pacific sanddabs. Fishery biologists have not assessed the abundance of Pacific sanddabs, or the abundances of eight of the twelve other managed flatfish species in the West Coast flatfish fishery. With landings relatively stable, fishery managers have assumed that the fishery is operating at a sustainable level.Incidental catch of rockfishes in the West Coast groundfish fisheries is a serious concern as rockfishes are severely depleted in that region. Because they mature late and are long lived, rockfish species are extremely slow to recover from overfishing. Consequently, fishery managers have reduced allowable catches of flatfish and many areas are now closed to bottom trawling.
Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA)
© 2006 Seafood Choices Alliance