September 28, 2015
This is Fish Radio. I’m Stephanie Mangini.  Managers aim to learn more about one of the oceans ugliest fish. Hear more after this…
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The familiar saying “Look what the cat dragged in” is a fitting response when a rat tailed looking monster fish is dangling on one or more of your longline hooks.  The scary looking fish is most likely a giant grenadier. Giant_grenadier
“In Alaska there are three species of grenadier that are encountered in the fisheries. But the great majority of the catch is giant grenadier.”
Cara Rodgveller is a biologist at the Auke Bay Laboratory in Juneau. She has worked closely with the stock assessment of grenadier. 
The Giant Grenadier is the most abundant among the three types. All of the grenadier species are deep dwellers and are most commonly caught in the sablefish longline fishery. The delicate fish is caught as bycatch with a 100% mortality rate. They are considered a trash fish due to their jelly like meat.  
“They haven’t been marketed for human consumption. They have pretty soft flesh when they are cooked because they have very high water content and a pretty low fat content. There have been a few attempts to develop a market, but it hasn’t really ever been continued.”
After ten years of study on grenadier the species has finally made head way, when fish managers included them in their oversight as an ecosystem component.
“This means there is really no over fishing limits on grenadier. They are just now tracked for overfishing officially, and a retained catch is required to be reported.”
There is no directed fishery allowed for the fish. Rodgveller says that they are continuing genetic research due to their unique ear bones.
“Giant grenadiers have the potential to actually be more than one species.  They have different otolith shapes that are dramatically different, and this is something that hasn’t been seen in any other fish species.”
Despite their lack of value; little is known about one of the ocean’s ugliest fish.  
“They are the most abundant in terms of weight on the slope.   They are most likely feeding off both fish and invertebrates, and also as a prey species for other fish.  There really isn’t a lot known as far as their niche in the eco system, but just the fact that they are so abundant, they most likely have a large impact on other species on the slope.” 
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Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, an Alaska corporation proudly supporting Alaska’s coastal communities and the Alaskans who depend on fishing for their livelihoods and culture.    In Kodiak, I’m Stephanie Mangini.