Wolffish

Anarhichas lupus

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Longline
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — All Areas
Stock detail — I- IX
Picture of Wolffish

Sustainability rating five info

Sustainability overview

Wolffish is a slow growing fish, vulnerable to the effects of overfishing. There is no stock assessment for this species in EU waters and the fisheries are not managed. Fishery dependent information suggests large scale decline in the abundance of the species in the last century. Avoid eating.

Biology

The wolffish is one of three species found in northern European seas. They are sometimes referred to as "catfish" although true catfish are a freshwater fish. They are solitary animals, living in "lairs" close to the seabed. They inhabit rocky bottoms, sometimes over sand or mud usually at depths between 18-110m, but have been found between 1-600m. Wolffish become sexually mature at an age of 6-7 years and at a length of 50-60cm, weight 1-3kg. Spawning takes place in winter (October - January). Males guard a clutch of eggs right up to the time of hatching. They are a slow growing fish that can grow to 125-150cms, although the majority of animals landed are less than 100cm. The maximum published weight for wolfish is 23.6kg and maximum age is about 20 years. They feed on fish, hard-shelled molluscs, crabs, lobsters, sea urchins and other echinoderms.

Stock information

Stock Area

All Areas

Stock information

Wolffish is a slow growing fish, vulnerable to the effects of overfishing. There is no detailed information available on the stock status of wolffish in European waters. Trawler landings have declined over the last century, and landings of wolffish in England and Wales have declined by 96% in the last 120 years.

Management

In the northwest Atlantic the depletion is such that Atlantic wolffish is designated as a species of special concern in Canadian waters. In US Atlantic waters NOAA identified wolffish as a species of concern in 2004 in the areas of George's Bank and western Gulf of Maine. Wolffish is not evaluated by IUCN.

Capture Information

Most of the fishery occurs in March or April when the fish are taken in targeted longline fisheries as they are migrating back from their spawning grounds. At other times of the year, catfish is a prized bycatch in longline, trawl and Danish seine fisher

Alternatives

Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below. Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.

Basa, Tra, Catfish or Vietnamese River Cobbler
Bass, seabass (Farmed)
Bream, Gilthead (Farmed)
Cod, Atlantic Cod
Coley, Saithe
Haddock
Hake, Cape
Hake, European
Japanese amberjack, Yellowtail or Seriola
Pollack or Lythe
Pollock, Alaska, Walleye
Pouting or Bib
Sturgeon (Farmed)
Tilapia
Whiting

References

www.fisheries.is/main-species/other-demersal-fishes/atlantic-catfish/;

www.msc.org/newsroom/news/first-icelandic-fisheries-enter-msc-assessment/?searchterm=wolffish;

www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?ID=2501&AT=wolffish;

www.fishbase.org/PopDyn/PopGrowthList.php?ID=2501&GenusName=Anarhichas&SpeciesName=lupus&fc=396;

www.iucnredlist.org/search;

www.marlin.ac.uk/speciesinformation.php?speciesID=2509;

www.hafro.is/Astand/2013/english/14-atlanticwolffish-13.pdf;

www.mcsuk.org/downloads/fisheries/Most%20sustainable%20fishing%20methods.pdf;

www.mcsuk.org/downloads/fisheries/Fishing_Methods.pdf;

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/species/atlanticwolffish_detailed.pdf