Last updated on 23 November 2016





Ophiodon elongatus




Alaska ling cod, Cultus cod

Lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) are unique to the west coast of North America, with a range extending from Baja, California to the Shumagin Islands, Alaska.

Tagging studies have shown lingcod to be largely non-migratory, and it is thought that multiple stocks likely exist within British Columbia (Marko et al. 2006). However, stock delineation has not been clearly defined (Leaman and McFarlane 1997). Lingcod populations in British Columbia are assessed and managed as five separate units based on DFO Statistical Areas. These units include one inside stock in the Strait of Georgia (Area 4B) and the four outside stocks assessed here (King et al. 2011).


No related analysis


Management Quality:

Management Strategy:


Managers Compliance:


Fishers Compliance:


Stock Health:



Future Health:



No related FIPs


No related MSC fisheries


Within FishSource, the term "fishery" is used to indicate each unique combination of a flag country with a fishing gear, operating within a particular management unit, upon a resource. That resource may have a known biological stock structure and/or may be assessed at another level for practical or jurisdictional reasons. A fishery is the finest scale of resolution captured in FishSource profiles, as it is generally the scale at which sustainability can most fairly and practically be evaluated.

SW coast of Vancouver Island Canada 3C Canada Bottom trawls
Hooks and lines





Last updated on 28 February 2017

Stock assessment advice for outside British Columbia lingcod stocks was last published in 2011 (King et al. 2011). The next stock assessment is scheduled for year 2018, contingent on available resources and prioritization needs (Neil Davis, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, personal communication).

The constant TAC policies considered ranged from 500 to 3,000 or 4,500 tonnes, depending on the area. Larger TAC quota policies were considered for Areas 3D and 5CDE because the estimated ratio of current biomass relative to BMSY was large in these areas. Posterior median biomass levels in Areas 3C, 5AB and 5CDE were projected to remain within the Healthy Zone at TACs between 2,000 and 2,500 tonnes. Projections were uncertain in all areas. Projection results were most uncertain for Areas 3C and 5AB. For Area 3C, a TAC set at 1,000 (which is below the median MSY estimate of 1,390), resulted in only a 62% probability that B2016 would be in the Healthy Zone, and a 17% probability that B2016 would be in the Critical Zone. Taking no annual catch for this area (TAC = 0) still produced a 6% probability that B2016 would be in the Critical Zone (King et al. 2011).


Last updated on 28 February 2017

Whereas the earlier stock assessments had used catch-age analysis, the latest scientific advice is based on results of a Bayesian surplus production modeling approach (King et al. 2011).

Reference Points

Last updated on 28 Feb 2017

Reference points for the 2011 stock assessment were estimated using a Bayesian surplus production modeling approach (King et al. 2011):

Reference (USR; Biomass=80% of BMSY) that defines the boundary between Healthy and Cautious Zones and a Limit Reference Point (LRP; Biomass=40% of BMSY) that defines the boundary between Cautious and Critical Zones. In addition, we also include stock status relative to BMSY as a Target Reference Point.

Biological reference point estimates (median):

Bmsy: 22,068 mt.
MSY: 1,888 mt.
Blrp: (B20%) 8,827 mt.
Btrp: (B40%) 17,654 mt.
Ftrp: (Fmsy) 0.09

Advised F at biomass less than B20%: 0

There have been challenges in obtaining a reliable indicator of abundance for outside lingcod stocks. Prior stock assessments relied primarily on CPUE to track abundance, a measure that became more complicated with the introduction management changes in 1996 that altered the behavior of the fishery. Additional abundance indicators were incorporated in the 2011 stock assessment modeling effort; however there were persistent sources of imprecision even in this approach. High inter-annual variability in abundance indices was a noted problem contributing to uncertainty in biomass estimates. A better method to incorporate variation in catchability was identified as needed to improve the reliability of CPUE data. The estimated growth rate parameter (r) was subject to deficiencies in age at maturity and size at age data, and more significantly was sensitive to the selected natural mortality rate, which was based on proxy estimates. However, the r parameter was not indicated to be highly influential on stock status estimates and projections. Included in the authors recommendations or future assessments were examination of alternative sources of abundance time series data, investigation of models to better represent time-varying catchability in commercial CPUE time series, and alternative methods for estimating natural mortality rates. In addition, stock structure of the outside lingcod stocks in British Columbia is not well understood (stock assessment is focused by management area). Genetic investigations were recommended to address this deficiency (King et al. 2011).


Last updated on 28 February 2017

All four assessment areas are most likely in the Healthy Zone (i.e. current biomass is greater than 80% of BMSY. Uncertainty in current stock status relative to the USR and the LRP is quantified as the probability (P) that B2010 is in the Healthy Zone, P(B2010>0.8BMSY), and the probability that B2010 is above the critical zone P(B2010>0.4BMSY). These probabilities are based on model posterior distributions, which in some cases were highly skewed or displayed more than one mode. Greater uncertainty exists in the stock status estimates for Area 3C and for Area 5AB compared to the equivalent determinations for 3D and 5CDE (King et al. 2011).


Last updated on 28 Feb 2017

Stock biomass in Area 3C was relatively stable from 1927-1955 and then declined until 2010, with two small upturns in the mid-1980s and the mid-2000s. Overall the stock biomass has exhibited a 45% decline from the 1927 biomass level (King et al. 2011).

The shrimp trawl research survey in Area 3C exhibited the most inter-annual variability and highest annual CVs suggesting that it is an uncertain index of lingcod abundance. However, from 1975-1990, the commercial catch and CPUE of lingcod increased and one expectation given high catches, would be a decline in abundance and CPUE. The shrimp trawl research survey was the only fishery-independent survey in Area 3C spanning the 1975-1990 time period, and the survey CPUE exhibited a decline over this period (King et al. 2011).



Since 1997, percentages of the overall area TAC for lingcod have been allocated between two gear sectors: hook and line, and trawl (King et al. 2011). As for most commercially-valued groundfish species in British Columbia, management of the lingcod catch sectors has occurred through individual vessel quotas (IVQ’s) since 1996. Within the IVQ program, a suite of management strategies are employed, including time and area specific closures and bycatch limits (Rutheford 2013). IVQ’s and sector TAC’s are subject to annual adjustment based on prior-year deviations from the TAC (overage or underage) and inter-sector re-allocations (DFO 2013). Adjusted TACs used for annual management have consistently been higher than TACs indicated in harvest management plans (DFO 2014), presumably reflecting uncaught carryover from prior years.

Recovery Plans

The stock is not in a depleted status and no recovery plans are in place.


Between 1997 and 2010, trawl sector harvests (reported by calendar year) exceeded the management plan TAC four times; however the cumulative catch for the time period was below the cumulative TAC by 23 percent (based on catch data in King et al. (2011) and TACs indicated in annual groundfish harvest management plans (DFO 1997-2013)). Between 1997 and 2012, harvests (summarized by fishing year) were less than the annual adjusted TAC every year, with a cumulative harvest 33 percent below the limit (based on catches and TACs reported in annual harvest summaries (DFO 2014)).

King et al. (2011) note that despite the flexibility of the IVQ program in terms of quota carryover and transferability allowances, limited IVQ availability and strong disincentives for exceeding percent overage caps (which are 33% for lingcod) cause many vessels to underharvest their IVQ. Consequently, harvests of many species tend to fall below rather than above TACs.

All groundfish trawl vessels are subject to 100% at-sea observer coverage and some, including those pursuing lingcod, are required to be equipped with electronic monitoring devices (Munro et al. 2009). Discards are recorded and discarded catch is applied toward vessel period limits (King et al. 2011).


No related analysis

FishSource Scores




No data available
No data available
No data available
No data available
No data available
No data available
No data available
No data available
No data available
No data available
No data available
No data available

1) Catches and TAC’s are reported by fishing year not calendar year (i.e. 1997 = 1997-1998 fishing season) 2) TAC’s reflect TAC’s indicated in harvest plans and adjusted for prior year carryover and inter-sector reallocations. 2) Spawning biomass was not estimated from the model used; biomass estimates are for total biomass, not spawning biomass. 3) Fishing mortality rate incorporates overall harvest in area 3D, and is not specific to the trawl sector.

Data sources:
1) 2011 stock assessment report (King et al. 2011)
2) Annual summaries available at Fisheries and Oceans Canada site (

Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs)

No related FIPs


Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

No related MSC certifications


  1. Fuller, S.D., Picco, C., Ford, J., Tsao, C., Morgan, L.E., Hangaard, D., and Chuenpagdee, R., 2008. How we fish matters: Addressing the ecological impacts of Canadian Fishing Gear. [online] Ecology Action Centre, Living Oceans Society, and Marine Conservation Biology Institute. Available at:

  2. DFO (Fisheries and Oceans Canada), 1997-2013. Pacific Region Integrated Fisheries Management Plan: Groundfish. [online] Archived Integrated Fisheries Management Plans 1997-2013.

  3. DFO (Fisheries and Oceans Canada), 2013. 2013/2014 Groundfish Trawl Commercial Harvest Plan. Appendix 8 in the Pacific Region integrated fisheries management plan.

  4. DFO (Fisheries and Oceans Canada), 2014. Summary of Historic Catch vs Available Weight.

  5. King, J.R., McAllister, M., Holt, K.R., and Starr, P.J., 2011. Lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) stock assessment and yield advice
for outside stocks in British Columbia. [pdf] Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Science Advisory Report 2011/051

  6. Munro, G.R., Turris, B., Clark, C., Sumaila, U.R., and Bailey, M.,
2009. Impacts of harvesting rights in Canadian Pacific fisheries. Statistical and Economic Analysis Series. Publication. No.1-3.

  7. Rutheford, K.L., 2013. British Columbia Groundfish Fisheries and Their Investigations in 2012. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Science Branch report prepared for the 54th Annual Meeting of the Technical Sub-Committee of the Canada-United States Groundfish Committee, April 30- May 1, 2013, Seattle. [pdf].

  8. DFO, 2005. Strait of Georgia Lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) Assessment and Advice for Fishery Management. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Science Advisory Report 2005/042.

  9. King, J.R., and A.M. Surry, 2000. Lingcod stock assessment and recommended yield options for 2001. DFO Canadian Stock Assessment Secretariat Research Document 2000/164.

  10. Leaman, B.M., and G.A. McFarlane, 1997. Offshore lingcod stock Assessment and recommended yield options for 1998. Canadian Stock Assessment Secretariat Research Document 97/131.

  11. Marko, P.B., L: Rogers-Bennett, A.B. Dennis, 2006. MtDNA population structure and gene flow in lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus): limited connectivity despite long-lived pelagic larvae. Marine Biology 150 (6): 1301-1311.



    This tab will disappear in 5 seconds.

    Comments on:

    Lingcod - SW coast of Vancouver Island

    comments powered by Disqus