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Target Species Profiles
White Seabass (Atractoscion nobilis)
Written by: Dr. Larry G. Allen
SCIENTIFIC NAME - Atractoscion nobilis , family Sciaenidae (croakers)
COMMON NAMES - white seabass; seabass, corvina blanca (Mexico)
DISTRIBUTION - Juneau, Alaska to southern Baja California Gulf of California. Principal area of abundance between Pt. Conception and Ballenas Bay, Baja California.
SIZE & AGE - To 5 feet and 83 pounds. The oldest fish encountered in the early study was 13 years of age based on scale rings. I aged a 72 pound white seabass at 17 years using its otoliths. My guess is that they probably live to about 20 years. A just-legal sized fish of 28 inches total length is about 5 years old according to scale aging.
DIET - Squid, anchovies, sardines, pelagic red crabs, and other small fishes.
REPRODUCTION - Spawning occurs from April to August peaking in May and June.
Mature white seabass are known to aggregate close to shore over rocky habitat usually near kelp beds during the spawning season. Females probably spawn hundreds of thousands to millions of eggs depending on the size of the fish. Larval seabass develop in the plankton for about five weeks. Those few that make it to five weeks settle to the bottom just outside the surf zone along open coast sandy beaches when about one-fourth of an inch long. They remain in this nursery habitat for about a year at which time they are about ten inches long. The yearlings then begin to move around and can be found with older juveniles in most shallow, nearshore habitats including reefs, kelp beds, harbors and bays. About 50% of male white seabass are mature at about 24 inches (four years) and 50% of females at 28 inches (five years).
FISHERY - The sport catch by commercial passenger fishing vessels (CPFVs) peaked in 1949 at about 64,000 fish and has declined steadily ever since. An all-time low of 284 fish was recorded in 1978. The sport catch from party boats averaged 1,400 fish per year from 1980 to 1991, which is only 2% of the 1949 peak in sport catch