About the Species
The Atlantic spiny dogfish fishery operates from Maine to Florida and from inshore to offshore waters on the edge of the continental shelf. The spiny dogfish fishery uses predominantly bottom gillnets, with lesser amounts caught by trawls and hook gear. There is little consumer demand for spiny dogfish in the United States, but it is commonly used in Europe as the fish in 'fish and chips.' U.S. wild-caught Atlantic spiny dogfish is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations. Implementing regulations are found at 50 CFR part 648 subpart L.
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.
Recreational Fishing Regulations
There are currently no recreational possession restrictions for spiny dogfish caught in federal waters. Recreational anglers must still comply with minimum fish size regulations for all recreational fisheries.
Recreational anglers will need to get a general recreational fishing license either through your state or through NMFS to fish recreationally for marine species. Visit our permit office or recreational fishing pages for more information.
Reporting a Recreational Catch
This is not applicable for the Atlantic spiny dogfish fishery. Visit the Greater Atlantic Region's recreational fishing page for more information about recreational reporting in general.
Commercial Fishing Regulations
Possession and Size Requirements
The federal commercial trip limit for spiny dogfish is 6,000 lb. Only one trip may be made each calendar day.
There are no fish size limits in the spiny dogfish.
Note: Individual states may set more restrictive possession limits. Please check with your state’s fisheries agency.
Current Spiny Dogfish Specifications (May 1, 2019-April 30, 2020)
|Overfishing Limit (OFL)||47.507 million lb|
|Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC)||28.470 million lb|
|Annual Catch Limit (ACL)||28.362 million lb|
|Commercial Quota||20.523 million lb|
Reporting A Commercial Catch
Catch Reporting and Vessel Trip Reports (VTR)
VTRs must be submitted with a record of all fishing activity for each month. The reports must be submitted to NOAA fisheries or postmarked within 15 days after the end of the reporting month. Copies of VTRs must be retained on board the vessel for 1 year after the date of the last entry on the log and otherwise retained for 3 years after the date of the last entry on the log. Reports can also be submitted electronically through our online reporting page.
Vessel Monitoring System (VMS)
The commercial spiny dogfish fishery does not specifically require VMS. However, vessels must abide by NE multispecies, scallop, or monkfish regulations if fishing on a day-at-sea (DAS) for one of those fisheries. Unless fishing on a NE multispecies sector trip, a vessel holding a federal fishing permit that requires an operating VMS must declare ‘out of fishery’ (DOF) through their VMS before starting a trip to fish for, possess, or land spiny dogfish in an exempted area or fishery not requiring a DAS.
Other Reporting Information
The commercial spiny dogfish fishery does not have any Interactive Voice Response (IVR) or specific observer requirements. However, vessels must abide by NE multispecies, scallop, or monkfish regulations if fishing on a DAS for one of those fisheries. Additionally, all federally permitted vessels are obligated to carry an observer if randomly selected by the National Observer Program.
Commercial Gear Information