About the Species
U.S. wild-caught Atlantic spiny dogfish is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.
Below target population levels.
At recommended levels.
Area closures and gear restrictions protect habitats affected by some kinds of trawl gear.
Regulations are in place to minimize bycatch.
- According to the 2018 stock assessment, Atlantic spiny dogfish are not overfished and are not subject to overfishing.
- Scientists project that the number of mature females may decline somewhat in the coming years due to the low number of pups born during the 1990s when spiny dogfish were heavily fished. This potential decline is not expected to result in the stock becoming overfished.
- Spiny dogfish are slim, with a narrow, pointed snout and characteristic white spots.
- They are gray above and white below.
- They have two dorsal fins with ungrooved large spines.
- Males grow up to 3.3 feet, and females grow up to 4 feet.
- Like all sharks, dogfish grow slowly, mature late in life, and live a long time (35 to 40 years).
- Females grow larger and mature later than males—they’re first able to reproduce at age 12 compared to males at age 6.
- They spawn in winter in offshore waters.
- Females have between two and 12 eggs per spawning season. The eggs are fertilized internally and, after a gestation period of 18 to 24 months, female dogfish bear live young (an average of six pups).
- They are opportunistic feeders, preying on whatever is most available.
- Smaller spiny dogfish tend to feed primarily on crustaceans, while larger dogfish like to eat jellyfish, squid, and schooling fish.
- Dogfish are preyed upon by cod, red hake, goosefish, other spiny dogfish, larger sharks, seals, and orcas.
Where They Live
- Spiny dogfish are found in the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans, mostly in the temperate and subarctic areas. In the Northwest Atlantic, they are found from Labrador to Florida and are most abundant between Nova Scotia and Cape Hatteras.
- NOAA Fisheries, the Mid-Atlantic and New England Fishery Management Councils, and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission manage the Atlantic spiny dogfish fishery.
- The Mid-Atlantic Council leads the joint management of the Spiny Dogfish Fishery Management Plan:
- Fishermen must have a permit to harvest spiny dogfish.
- Annual catch limits and a commercial quota are set.
- Trip limits used to control the catch rate.
- The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission implements the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Spiny Dogfish in state waters, establishing complementary regulations to the federal regulations.