About the Species
- According to the 2019 operational assessment, white hake is overfished, but overfishing is not occurring. A rebuilding plan is in place for the stock, most recently revised by Framework Adjustment 61 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan
- White hake have a large mouth that extends back below their eyes.
- White hake have one anal fin and two dorsal fins. The first dorsal fin is tall and triangular, and the second is lower, rounded, and extends almost to the fish’s tail.
- The third fin ray on the first (triangular) dorsal fin is elongated, and extends much higher than the rest of the fin.
- White hake are a member of the cod order and have a barbel (whisker) on their chin.
- White hake vary in color; most adults range from purplish- to golden-brown on their back and sides, and they have a yellowish-white belly speckled with small black spots.
- White hake can grow up to 53 inches, and weigh up to 49 pounds.
- White hake eggs are buoyant, and larval and early juvenile fish live higher in the water column than adult fish.
- White hake settle to the bottom when they are about 2 months old.
- Adult white hake typically prefer deeper water than juveniles.
- White hake move inshore to shallower water in the summer, and move offshore to deeper waters during the winter.
- Male white hake are usually smaller than females.
- Adult white hake primarily prey on other bottom-dwelling organisms such as squid, crustaceans, and small bony fish.
Where They Live
- White hake are found in the Northwest Atlantic from Newfoundland to southern New England.
- We manage a single stock of white hake in U.S. waters.
- NOAA Fisheries and the New England Fishery Management Council manage the fishery.
- White hake, along with other groundfish in New England waters, is 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, although there is no minimum size for white hake.
- 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
Subsistence Fishing Regulations
White hake 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.