Squalus acanthias


Picked dogfish, piked dogfish


Spur dogfish, Spiny dogfish

Spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) are possibly the most abundant living shark. An inshore and offshore dogfish of the continental and insular shelf and upper slopes. Usually near the bottom, but also in midwater and at the surface; occurs mainly between 10-200 m depth (Compagno 1984). Spiny dogfish are distributed in Northwest Atlantic waters between Labrador and Florida, are considered to be a unit stock in NAFO Subareas 2-6, but are most abundant from Nova Scotia to Cape Hatteras.

This is one of the most important sharks for fisheries because of its abundance in colder waters, utilization in various fisheries, and damage it does to gear and catches of other fishes. Catches of Squalus acanthias reached a peak in 1972 (73,500 t) then declined but in the last decade they have stabilized in a range between 36,000 and 51,000 t. Most of the catches reported to FAO have come firstly from area 27 (Northeast Atlantic) and then from area 21 (Northwest Atlantic) but in 1995 and 1996 catches taken in area 21 have exceeded those from area 27. The countries with the largest catches were Canada (5 536 t) and Norway (1 461 t). It is captured primarily in bottom trawls and with longlines and handlines, but also commonly with gill nets seines, fish traps, and other gear; it is also readily taken by rod and reel (Compagno 1984).

Historical records dating back to 1931 indicate levels of US commercial landings of dogfish in Subareas 5 and 6 of less than 100 mt in most years prior to 1960 (NEFC 1990). Total landings of spiny dogfish in NAFO Subareas 2-6 by all fisheries climbed rapidly from the late 1960s to a peak of about 25,000 metric tons (mt) in 1974. Substantial harvests of dogfish by foreign trawling fleets began in 1966 in Subareas 5 and 6 and continued through 1977. Since 1978, landings by foreign fleets have been curtailed, and landings by US and Canadian vessels have increased markedly. A sharp intensification of the US commercial fishery began in 1990; estimated landings in 1996, in excess of 28,000 mt, were about five times greater than the 1980-1989 average. Landings between 1997 and 1999 averaged about 20,000 mt. Landings in 2001 and 2002 dropped dramatically with the large landings reductions imposed by federal and ASMFC management plans (Kulka et al. 2012).

This fishery was suspended by the Marine Stewardship Council system in February 2015. “Suspension has been enacted in order for the fishery to prepare a corrective action plan to address the causes of behind target conditions as recorded in the 2nd Surveillance Audit Report February 2015.” The certification was re-instated in May 2015. Click here for more details (Mateo et al. 2015a and 2015b).




    Management Quality:

    Management Strategy:


    Managers Compliance:


    Fishers Compliance: