No significant recruitment is occurring for white hake in NAFO Division 3NO, according to the last stock assessment conducted by the NAFO Scientific Council in June 2019.
“In fact, there has been extremely low recruitment since that generated by the very large 1999-year class,” states the scientific report.
Based on DFO-NL research vessel survey trends, “the NAFO Scientific Council determined that stock biomass is low,” said Rodney Drover, communications advisor for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, via email. “Since 2004, the stock has remained at a level of abundance similar to that observed in the mid-1990s.”
Between 2002 to 2019, the population has exhibited little recruitment, said Drover. The stock is scheduled to be assessed again in June 2021.
The 3NO TAC has been set at 1,000 tonnes since 2015 by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO). The Canadian allocation is 294 tonnes divided into an 100-tonne allocation for a directed competitive fishery and a 194 tonne allocation for bycatch for all fleets, said Drover.
Vessels participating in the directed 3NO white hake fishery are the nearshore fleet.
According to DFO, white hake are distributed throughout the western Atlantic, ranging from southern Labrador, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Grand Banks southward to North Carolina. White hake are groundfish that live their adult lives in depths of a few metres to almost 1,000 metres, preferring sandy and muddy bottoms.
White hake are similar in appearance to cod, though somewhat leaner. They have an elongated body with two dorsal fins. The first dorsal fin is small and pointed with a long filament and the second long and flat, covering more than half of their body.
The colouration of white hake varies, but they are dark on their dorsal side, usually brown or purplish-brown, and paler on their flanks, sometimes with a bronze tinge. Their belly is typically off-white or yellowish white. White hake can grow to about 70 cm, in rare cases growing to almost twice this length. They can live up to 10 years.