- Latin Name:
- Melanogrammus aeglefinus
- Group Name:
- North Atlantic Ocean
- Fishing Gear:
- Otter trawls, longlines, handlines and gillnets
- June to February on Georges Bank; April to March on the Scotian Shelf
Species at a Glance
A member of the cod family, haddock are a popular Canadian bottom-dwelling groundfish species on both sides of the Atlantic, ranging in North American waters from southwest Greenland to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
Haddock are harvested as a directed fishery on eastern Georges Bank (5Zjm), and as part of a multi-species fishery in the southern Scotian Shelf and Bay of Fundy (4X). The Canadian haddock fisheries in these areas have been eco-certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.
The United States is the predominant export market for Canadian haddock.
- Canadian landings were 8,286 tonnes in 2013, 9,330 tonnes in 2012, 15,201 tonnes in 2011. Landings were 23,400 tonnes in 2009 and 22,400 tonnes in 2010.
- Landed value was $12 million in 2013, $20.1 million in 2012, $26.1 million in 2011. In 2009, landed value was $36.9 and in 2010, $30 million.
- Abundance status and trends:
- The spawning stock biomass has increased over the past decade in the southern Scotian Shelf and Bay of Fundy area. In the eastern Georges Bank area, the adult population biomass increased to more than 173,000 t in 2009 from a historical low of 10,400 t in 1993.
- While Fisheries and Oceans Canada manages five haddock stock fisheries, directed fisheries are currently permitted in only two of these, i.e. NAFO Division 4X5Y in the southern Scotian Shelf and Bay of Fundy; and NAFO Division 5Zjm located in the eastern Georges Bank area. The 5Zjm stock is a transboundary stock and is managed jointly with the United States.
- Conservation measures:
- Tailored to the unique needs of each haddock fishery, there are a number of conservation measures including catch quotas, spawning area closures, mesh-size regulations.
Haddock are elongated fish with a purple-grey back and head, and a black lateral line. Though similar in appearance to cod, haddock are smaller on average, from 38 to 69 centimeters in length and 0.9 to 1.8 kilograms in weight. The species can easily be recognized by the black mark above the pectoral fin, which is sometimes called the Devil’s thumbprint. A demersal fish, haddock usually live at depths of 50 to 250 meters and mainly feed on small invertebrates.
Haddock are found on both sides of the North Atlantic. Major stocks within Canadian waters are found on the southern Scotian Shelf and the Bay of Fundy, as well as eastern Georges Bank. Almost all eastern Georges Bank haddock are mature by the age of three, and the number of eggs produced increases dramatically with age. Haddock’s spawning peak occurs in April and May on the Scotian Shelf and about one to two months earlier on eastern Georges Bank.
There are approximately 1,000 licenced fish harvesters who take part in the haddock fisheries, with most of the catch occurring in the eastern Georges Bank area (Figures 1 and 2). Haddock are harvested with otter trawls, longlines, handlines, and gillnets.
Between 2006 and 2010 the total allowable catch in 4X5Y for the Scotian Shelf and Bay of Fundy haddock fishing area, ranged from 6000 to 7000 tonnes. In 5Zjm the total allowable catch for 2009 was 30,000 tonnes and in 2010 it was 29,600 tonnes.
Haddock Fishing Areas:
Canada and the United States conduct a joint annual assessment of the eastern Georges Bank haddock stock. The two countries also collaboratively manage this stock through the Canada-United States Transboundary Management Guidance Committee that was established in 2000.
Groundfish fisheries off the coast of Atlantic Canada have been regulated since 1977. In 1995, an Integrated Fisheries Management Planning process was introduced and, in 2000, this process was strengthened with the addition of risk analysis and the precautionary approach to haddock fisheries management. Fisheries and Oceans Canada continues to work closely with regional management boards and the haddock fishing industry to develop and update Integrated Fisheries Management Plans for haddock.
Haddock fisheries have been managed using quota regulations since the 1970’s. Some conservation measures include:
- specific season and area closures during spawning;
- fishing practices to avoid high bycatch (in 5Xjm where this is not a multi-species fishery) such as the use of a separator panel in trawl nets to minimize cod bycatch; and,
- monitoring by at-sea observers
Haddock Landings – Historical View:
Haddock landings since 1969 from NAFO Division 5Zjm are shown in Figure 3. Both landings and TAC for haddock from NAFO division 4X5Y are shown in Figure 4.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has conducted annual summer research surveys in NAFO Divisions 4VWX, 5Y, and 5Z fishing areas using a standardized protocol since 1970. Annual winter research surveys have been conducted in NAFO Division 5Z since 1986. Results of these surveys provide information on trends in abundance for most groundfish species, including haddock including haddock on the Scotia Shelf and Georges Bank areas.
Adult biomass for the 5Zjm haddock stock, estimated from a population model, has fluctuated over the past decade: decreasing to 62,200 t in 2005; increasing to 172,700 t in 2009; and decreasing again to 70,700 t at the beginning of 2012 (Figure 5).
Adult biomass for the 4X5Y haddock stock, also estimated from a population model, has remained relatively stable over the past two decades and has increased in the past few years (Figure 6). Recent recruitment is variable, with poor incoming year-classes in 2007 and 2008 and large year-classes in 2009 and 2010. 4X5Y haddock spawning stock biomass is considered to be likely within the “cautious” zone.
The 4X5Y haddock spawning stock biomass is currently estimated as being in the Cautious zone based on Canada’s Fishery Decision-Making Framework Incorporating the Precautionary Approach .
In addition to research vessel survey results and commercial haddock landings data, the Department uses other methods to better understand the status of haddock. These include monitoring and analyzing:
- catch rates;
- size and weight of haddock caught; and
- abundance of young fish
Stock Biomass – Historical View:
- Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Trade Fact Sheet: Haddock
- Atlantic Canada Exports: Haddock
- DFO aquatic species profile: Haddock
- DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat: Assessment of the Status of 4X5Y Haddock in 2011
- DFO: Atlas of the Scotian Shelf
- DFO: Canadian Commercial Fisheries Data (2011): Values and Quantities
- DFO: Sustainable Fisheries Framework policies
- Transboundary Management Guidance Committee management process
- Transboundary Resources Assessment Committee: Eastern Georges Bank Haddock (PDF 68.6 KB)
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