Fish and Shellfish Stocks 2012

Fish and Shellfish Stocks 2012. State of Scottish fish stocks, TACs and biology of the stocks for 2012.


Monkfish ( Lophius piscatorius and Lophius budegassa) also known as anglerfish. Although, only fourth by weight, they were the second most valuable fish species landed into Scotland in 2010. It's caught mainly by bottom trawl gear in the northern North Sea, to the north and west of Scotland close to the shelf edge.

2012 position : UK share 9,319 tonnes
Last Year : 9,794 tonnes
Landed into Scotland in 2010 : 8,209 tonnes
Value for 2010 : £28 million


There are two species of anglerfish, also called monkfish, in Scottish waters. The black-bellied monkfish, Lophius budegassa, is much less common than the 'white' monkfish, Lophius piscatorius. The basic biology of the two species is very similar.

Monkfish occur in an unusually wide range of depths, extending from very shallow inshore waters down to at least 1,100m. Small monkfish can be caught over most of the northern North Sea and west coast grounds, down to about 150m. Large fish, the potential spawners, used to be found at all depths, including inshore waters, but are now scarce in water shallower than 100-150 m.

Spawning takes place mainly during the first six months of the year and is believed to occur in relatively deep water. Although monkfish have a long spawning season, each female probably produces only one batch of eggs, unlike cod, haddock and whiting, which spawn many times during a single spawning season. Female monkfish only begin to reach maturity around the age of seven years when they have grown to a length of about 70cm. The majority of females do not spawn until they are even older and are therefore likely to be caught long before they reach full maturity. Monkfish have very unusual spawning habits. The eggs are released in a huge ribbon of jelly that floats to the surface and drifts with the currents. A single egg ribbon can be more than 10 metres long and can contain well over 1 million eggs. After hatching, the young monkfish spend three or four months in mid-water, before settling on the bottom at a size of 5-12cm. During their time in mid-water the young fish may drift a very long way from the spawning grounds.

Monkfish feed mainly on fish, although shellfish and even seabirds are sometimes found in their stomachs. They lie on the seabed and attract prey to within range of their enormous mouths by twitching a 'fishing rod', or lure, that extends from the top of the head, in front of the eyes.



Information Source: ICES advice 2011 ( Quoted text in italics.

summary figures

Anglerfish ( L. piscatorius and L. budegassa). Estimates of total abundance and biomass from the Scottish and irish anglerfish industry/science survey, for Northern shelf (black filled circles with 95% confidence limits), with breakdown by area: ICES Subarea IV (red filled squares), Division VIa (blue open circles) and Division VIb (green filled triangles).

MSY and precautionary approach reference points



MSY Approach

MSY B trigger

Not defined

F msy

Not defined

Precautionary Approach

B lim

Not defined

B pa

Not defined

F lim

Not defined

F pa

Not defined

State of stock and advice

  • No accepted analytical assessment can be presented for this stock.
  • Recent dedicated anglerfish surveys carried out by Marine Scotland Science in Division IVa and Subarea VI indicate a decline in abundance in 2007- 2009 and stable biomass in recent years.
  • No reference points have been defined for these stocks. Previous reference points are no longer considered to be valid. The available information is insufficient to evaluate exploitation status. Therefore, catches should be reduced.
  • No management objectives are known to ICES.

Genetic and particle-tracking studies have determined that the monkfish caught in the North Sea and those caught to the west of Scotland come from the same biological stock.

Management outcomes for 2012

At the December 2011 meeting in Brussels, the Council of Ministers decided that the EU Total Allowable Catch for the northern shelf (IV and VI, EC waters of IIa and Vb, and international waters of XII and XIV) monkfish should be 15,844 tonnes. The UK quota for 2012 was set at 9,319 tonnes, this includes 269 tonnes from Norwegian waters of IV.


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