Salmon — British Columbia
Fish harvesters use hooks and lines, trailed behind their vessels at low speed, to catch lingcod. The hooks are attached to lures that imitate the lingcod’s food, such as herring and squid. Lingcod are individually hooked and the lines are pulled in with a hydraulic winch. Fish harvesters must haul in each lingocd by hand—a struggle in which the skill and agility of the harvester is paramount.
Gang trolling is a slow and selective method of harvesting lingcod. The method involves sinking a wire with a heavy lead or pipe weight just off the seafloor. A short distance above the weight, a long "gang" line with floats is clipped on the wire from which hanges 5 to 15 hooks. This method lets the fish harvester catch up to a dozen or even more lingcod at a time when the fish are biting. Many fish harvesters use the "gang troll" method in order to selectively harvest lingcod and keep them alive in onboard holding tanks for the Asian market.
About 30 to 40 vessels actively participate in the directed lingcod fishery each year. Vessels average 40 feet (12 metres) in length and have a small crew who are often family members. Some skippers even fish alone. The most distinct feature of a troller is its long poles secured to its mast by a crosstree. When fishing, the poles are spread apart forming a v-shape.
Under an integrated fisheries management plan, licensed fishing vessels must own or lease both an individual quota of lingcod, but also other quota so that they can keep non-targeted species that might otherwise be thrown overboard. That means if fish harvesters accidentally catch halibut, for example, they must own or lease an equivalent amount of halibut quota. This allows them to keep the halibut or other non-target fish species and reduces bycatch (unwanted fish) mortality in the lingcod fishery. A number of other measures address conservation issues, including:
Seafood Watch - Good Alternative
SeaChoice - Some Concerns
Ocean Wise - Recommended
Apr 01 - Nov 15
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) manages this fishery as part of an integrated fisheries management strategy for all groundfish in B.C. Click link to visit DFO's Pacific Region Groundfish hompage.
Lingcod stocks are assessed by scientists in the Department and Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). For the most recent lingcod stock status, visit DFO Science.
Lingcod caught by gang trolling are individually hauled aboard, dressed, washed and iced. Some lingcod is also landed aboard fishing vessels live and are held in holding tanks in seawater. At landing stations, the live lingcod is transferred to tanker trucks and typically delivered to local Asian fish markets where they are stored in aquariums.
The lingcod fishery occurs along the entire coast of British Columbia, which is divided into eight fishery management areas. Since 2002, rockfish conservation areas have been created to protect vulnerable fish stocks from commercial and recreational harvesting. There are currently 164 rockfish conservation areas providing refuge to 37 different rockfish species along the coast.