China Rockfish
China Rockfish














S. nebulosus

Binomial name:

Sebastes nebulosus

The China rockfish (Sebastes nebulosus) is a rockfish of the Pacific coast found from Kachemak Bay in the northern Gulf of Alaska to Redondo Beach and San Nicolas Island in southern California.

The China rockfish has a distinctive appearance, with a dark blue or black body crossed by a patchy but obvious yellow stripe that extends from around the third dorsal spine down and then along the lateral line. In addition, the body may be covered with small whitish or yellowish spots. Maximum reported size is 45 cm (18 inches).

Early life history is little-known; juveniles have been observed in shallow coastal water. Adults are solitary and territorial, preferring rocky outcrops with boulder fields and crevices. When confronted with an intruder, the fish erect its spines and try to look larger. The territories are apparently small, with a study off Vancouver Islandfinding Chinas moving only within 10 m (33 ft). They feed on benthic organisms, including brittle stars, chitons, and crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp.

They have been popular for commercial fishing since the 19th century. During the 1930s, Chinas sold for twice as much as any other rockfish except the black-and-yellow rockfish, and for more than any other kind of finfish. They are today popular in Asia, often being sold alive. Commercial fishing methods include hook and line,longline, and trapping.

The species epithet nebulosus is Latin for "clouded". Although Jordan and Evermann promoted the common name "yellowspotted rockfish", the "China" name has persisted, due to a perceived preference by persons of Chinese ancestry living in central California. The species was actually described by both W. O. Ayres andCharles Frédéric Girard in the same year, with Girard naming the species S. fasciatus, but the name had already been used for the Acadian redfish and thus Ayres' choice prevailed.


  • Milton S. Love, Mary Yoklavich, Lyman K. Thorsteinson, (2002), The Rockfishes of the Northeast Pacific, University of California Press, pp. 219-221
  • Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2006). "Sebastes nebulosus" in FishBase. March 2006 version.