Monkfish aren’t the prettiest fish in the North Atlantic, having an enormous spiny head, tiny eyes and fang-like teeth. Indeed, the fish is better known for its flavour than appearance. These bottom-dwelling fish range from the Grand Banks and northern Gulf of St. Lawrence south to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
Monkfish have a chocolate-brown coloured back and whitish belly. Their distinctive feature is a huge mouth and head. Despite a ghoulish appearance, monkfish are renowned for its tail meat, which is mildly sweat and has a texture similar to scallop or lobster. The liver is considered a delicacy in Japan.
Monkfish are voracious feeders, gobbling up whatever prey happens to be available. They eat shellfish, seabirds, diving ducks, fish and even other monkfish. Females live at least 13 years and males seven years. They grow to three to 4.5 feet long. They migrate seasonally to spawn and feed. Spawning occurs from February through October when females release “egg veils” which contain more than one million eggs. These “veils” float near the surface for several weeks until the larvae hatch. Adult monkfish live on the seafloor, typically on sand, mud and shell habitats. They often partially bury themselves in sediment to disguise themselves in order to ambush prey.
This fishery uses a large cone-shaped net that is dragged along the seafloor to catch fish. As the net is towed at low speed, hydrodynamic forces push two "otter boards" outwards opening the mouth of the net and capturing fish in its path.