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Hake, Northern stock, Irish Sea, Midwater otter trawl


Merluccius merluccius

Content last updated
3rd Oct 2017

Hake in subareas 4, 6, and 7 and divisions 3.a, 8.a–b, and 8.d (Northern stock).

European Union


European hake (Merluccius merluccius) is widely distributed over the Northeast Atlantic shelf, from Norway to Mauritania, occurring at higher densities from the British Isles to the south of Spain and in the Mediterranean and Black sea.

Hake spawn from February through to July along the shelf edge, with the main areas extending from the north of the Bay of Biscay to the south and west of Ireland. There are two major nursery areas, one in the Bay of Biscay and the other off South coast of Ireland.

Landings of hake have increased in recent years and information on discards has now become available. The wide area of distribution means that more than ten countries exploit this resource in mixed fisheries, although the majority of the hake catch is taken by France, Spain and the UK. Within the Irish Sea targeted fishing for hake occurs within the North Channel- the channel connecting the Irish Sea to the sea area west of Scotland.

Management of hake in the Irish Sea is by TAC for subareas 4, 6, and 7, and in divisions 3.a, 8.a–b, and 8.d.

Stock Status

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The Northern Hake stock has been scored a very low risk. This is because the stock biomass is well above MSYBtrigger and at a historic high. Fishing mortality has been below FMSY since 2012.

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The management of Northern Hake has been scored a low risk. The agreed Total Allowable Catch is based on the MSY approach, and the stock is underpinned by a stock assessment that uses both fishery dependent and independent data.

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The bycatch in the mid-water trawl Irish Sea hake fishery is assessed as low risk. Although the bycatch is around 30% of the total catch, more than 95% of the non-targeted species are processed and utilized with only 3% of total catch discarded. However, there is also a moderate risk to Protected, Endangered and Threatened (PET) species (for example common skate, undulate ray and spurdog); these are likely to be caught by the fishery but landing is prohibited. These species are considered to have high survival rates when discarded. Observer rates are high and management measures are in place to limit the impact of the fishery on other species such as cod.

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The habitat impact of the mid-water trawl Irish Sea hake fishery has been scored a low risk. This is because mid-water trawls only occasionally interact with seafloor habitats, and therefore there is no requirement for spatial management in place to restrict the footprint of this gear.

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Type Current Risk Status Outlook Reason


Very low Stable or deteriorating

The stock biomass appears to have peaked, and a reduction is possible.


Low Stable

Management in place which is considered precautionary


Low Stable

The fishery is targeted on aggregations of adult hake and there is no reason why this should change


Very Low Improving

Technical and spatial management measures are being developed that will likely further reduce these risks.

Nutritional Information

92 (kcal)
2.2 (g)
0.3 (g)
0 (g)
0.25 (g)

*per 100 g

Nutritional information from 100g raw product

Rich in Protein

Good Source Of Phosphorus

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