About The Species
U.S. wild-caught lingcod is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.
Above target population levels along the Northern Pacific coast. Near target levels and fishing rate promotes population growth along the Southern Pacific coast.
At recommended level.
Time and area closures and gear restrictions protect habitats that are affected by some types of fishing gear used to harvest lingcod.
Regulations prohibit fishing in certain areas to protect sensitive fish populations.
- According to the 2017 stock assessment, Southern Pacific coast lingcod and Northern Pacific coast lingcod are not overfished.
- Southern Pacific coast and Northern Pacific coast lingcod are not subject to overfishing based on 2018 catch data.
- There are currently no sufficient estimates of the abundance of lingcod in Alaska.
- Lingcod are dark gray, brown, or greenish on the back with some copper-colored mottling or spotting along the upper back.
- Nicknamed “buckethead,” the lingcod has a large head and mouth, and 18 large, sharp teeth.
- Lingcod have long bodies that narrow toward the tail.
- Lingcod grow quickly, up to 5 feet and 80 pounds, and can live more than 20 years.
- Males sexually mature when they are about 2 years old and almost 20 inches long.
- Females are able to reproduce when they are 3 years old and 30 inches long.
- In late fall, male lingcod gather and become territorial over areas suitable for spawning, usually shallow, rocky habitats.
- Mature females are rarely seen at these spawning grounds. Scientists believe that the females briefly visit these spawning areas during winter and spring and only stay long enough to deposit their eggs in crevices and under ledges.
- Males guard the nests for 8 to 10 weeks until the eggs hatch. The presence of a male to guard the nest from predators appears essential for successful spawning. If something happens to the male, an unguarded nest can be decimated within 48 hours by feeding rockfish, starfish, sculpins, kelp greenling, and cod.
- Larvae feed on zooplankton (tiny floating animals), including krill and larval crustaceans such as lobster and crab. Juveniles feed on small fish.
- Adults are aggressive predators and feed primarily on bottom-dwelling fish (including smaller lingcod), squid, octopi, and crab.
- Marine mammals, sharks, and larger lingcod prey on juvenile and adult lingcod.
Where They Live
- Lingcod are found from Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska down to Baja California, but they’re most abundant near British Columbia and Washington.
- NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific Fishery Management Council manage the lingcod fishery on the West Coast.
- Managed under the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan:
- Size limits and trip limits.
- Certain seasons and areas are closed to fishing.
- Gear restrictions help reduce bycatch and impacts on habitat.
- A trawl rationalization catch share program includes:
- Catch limits based on the health of each fish stock and divided into shares that are allocated to individual fishermen or groups.
- Provisions that allow fishermen to decide how and when to catch their share.
- The State of Alaska manages the lingcod fishery in both state and federal waters in Alaska through the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commercial Fisheries Regulations for Lingcod. Regulations include:
- Closing the fishery during spawning and nesting seasons to protect spawning female lingcod and nest-guarding male lingcod.
- Limits on the minimum size of fish that can be caught to protect immature fish from being harvested and allow fish to spawn at least once before being subject to harvest.
- Restricting catch through catch and bycatch quotas.