Coastwide Groundfish — British Columbia
Fish havesters use a bottom longline to catch lingcod. Baited hooks are attached to a line that is anchored to the ocean floor. A longline can be from one to three miles (1.6 to 5 km) long and have up to 2,000 hooks. This lingcod fishery is part of an integrated multi-species fishery in B.C. that allows fish harvesters to keep lingcod when fishing for several other species of cod, dogfish, flatfish and rockfish.
The longline consists of a long rope, spooled on a hydraulic drum, which fish harvesters set from the stern of their vessels. Baited hooks are fastened to this rope using clips or swivels. The longline is set along the ocean floor where bottom-dwelling fish live. It is marked on the ocean surface using a float and flagpole at each end. Fish harvesters can set several longlines at a time and haul them regularly to land their catch. Once aboard, the hooks are baited again, if need be, and the longline is reset.
In B.C., many different species are caught on bottom longlines. These include halibut, sablefish, dogfish, lingcod, flatfish and rockfish. About 30 to 40 vessels actively participate in the directed lingcod fishery each year. The vessels range in size from 35 to 80 feet (20 to 25 metres).
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 lingcod fishermen 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 ensure conservation. These include:
Ocean Wise - Recommended
SeaChoice - Some Concerns
Seafood Watch - Good Alternative
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 longline is 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 longline 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.