Reminder: Recreational fishing measures from fishing year 2018 for the Gulf of Maine cod and haddock fishery remain in place until we develop and implement any changes in fishing year 2019. The recreational Gulf of Maine haddock fishery reopens April
About the Species
U.S. wild-caught haddock is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.
Above target population levels.
At recommended levels.
Area closures and gear restrictions protect habitat that are affected by some kinds of trawl gear.
Regulations are in place to minimize bycatch.
- According to the 2017 stock assessment, the Georges Bank haddock stock is not overfished and is not subject to overfishing.
- According to the 2017 stock assessment, the Gulf of Maine haddock stock is not overfished and is not subject to overfishing.
- Haddock are a member of the cod family, but they are smaller than Atlantic cod.
- They can be distinguished by a black “thumbprint” found on each side of their body.
- Their skin is also less mottled than cod.
- Haddock are a fast-growing species that typically range between 1 and 3 feet long at maturity.
- They can live for 10 or more years, although NOAA Fisheries scientists typically catch haddock that are between 3 and 7 years old.
- They generally weigh between 2 and 7 pounds.
- Haddock begin to reproduce between the ages of 1 and 4 years old and at 10.5 to 11.7 inches long.
- They spawn between January and June on eastern Georges Bank, to the east of Nantucket Shoals and along the Maine coast over rock, gravel, sand, or mud bottoms.
- Haddock are very productive. Every year, an average-sized female produces around 850,000 eggs, and larger females can produce up to 3 million eggs.
- Females release their eggs in batches near the ocean floor, where a courting male fertilizes them.
- Once fertilized, eggs rise to the surface where they drift with ocean currents.
- Newly hatched haddock remain near the surface for several months before they settle to the bottom.
- Haddock feed on a variety of bottom-dwelling animals, including mollusks, worms, crustaceans, sea stars, sea urchins, sand dollars, brittle stars, and occasional fish eggs.
- Adults sometimes eat small fish, especially herring.
- Spiny dogfish, skates, and many groundfish species (cod, pollock, cusk, hake, monkfish, halibut, and sea raven) prey on juvenile haddock. Gray seals also prey on haddock.
Where They Live
- Haddock are found on both sides of the North Atlantic. In the western North Atlantic, they’re found from Newfoundland to Cape May, New Jersey, and are most abundant on Georges Bank and in the Gulf of Maine.
- There are two stocks of haddock in U.S. waters, the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank stocks.
- NOAA Fisheries and the New England Fishery Management Council manage Gulf of Maine haddock; NOAA Fisheries and the New England Fishery Management Council collaborate with Canada to jointly manage Georges Bank haddock, because the stock spans both waters.
- Haddock, along with other groundfish in New England waters, are managed under the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan, which includes:
- Permitting requirements for commercial vessels.
- Separate management measures for recreational vessels.
- Time/Area Closures to protect spawning fish and habitat.
- Minimum fish sizes to prevent harvest of juvenile fish.
- Annual catch limits, based on best available science.
- An optional sector (catch share) program can be used for cod and other groundfish species. The sector program allows fishermen to form harvesting cooperatives and work together to decide when, where, and how they harvest fish.
Recreational Fishing Regulations
Commercial Fishing Regulations
Haddock is managed under the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) along with 12 other species of groundfish. Collectively, these 13 species are referred to as the Northeast multispecies complex. For more information on the management of groundfish in the Greater Atlantic Region, please visit the Northeast multispecies complex group species page, or the Northeast Multispecies FMP page.