Haddock is sold year-round; fresh whole, head-on, and headed and gutted; frozen whole headed and gutted, as skin-on fillets, and as blocks. Value-added haddock that’s breaded or smoked is also available. Haddock’s thin connective tissue layer differentiates it from cod. It has a slightly sweet taste and lean, white meat that becomes whiter when cooked. Haddock can be used as a substitute for Atlantic cod, monkfish, or sea bass.
Haddock are primarily fished in the U.S. and Canada along the North Atlantic. A smaller fishery exists in Iceland as well. Haddock matures at a young age and has a moderate lifespan, making it fairly resilient to fishing pressure. Starting in the late 1970s, North Atlantic haddock stocks began to be overfished and then crashed in the 1990s. Recovery didn’t begin until the late 1990s. Currently Georges Bank haddock are fished at a sustainable level, although fishing pressure in the Gulf of Maine remains too high, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Haddock stock is a moderate concern in Iceland.
Habitat impacts ( Wild)
Most haddock in Canada, the U.S., and Iceland is caught with bottom trawl gear, which can harm the seafloor. A small amount of North American haddock is caught with hook and line, the most sustainable method for catching haddock because it minimizes bycatch and preserves the seafloor.
Bycatch is a serious concern in this fishery, mostly consisting of Atlantic cod and cusk. In Canada, overfished cod have “special concern” status and cusk are “threatened.” Other bycatch includes yellowtail, winter flounder, and white hake. Some fishermen use an eight-foot mesh in the front end of their nets called a haddock rope trawl or eliminator trawl that allows cod and other fish to escape, reducing bycatch.
The Atlantic haddock fishery is considered effectively managed. In the United States, haddock are managed by the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan, which includes area closures, equipment restrictions, minimum catch size, total allowable catch requirements, as well as a cap on bycatch. An amendment in 2010 expanded catch-share management and increased operational efficiency, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Internationally, haddock falls under the International Council for the Exploration for the Sea. Management of the haddock fishery in Iceland is considered moderately effective.