Lake Whitefish

Lake Whitefish
Common Name Lake Whitefish
Market Name inland whitefish, shad
Scientific name Coregonus clupeaformis

Sourcing Summary

Size

1.5-3.0 lbs.

Lake whitefish are available fresh and frozen whole, in fillets, and as steaks. Value-added lake whitefish are sold as roe or smoked, either head-on or in fillets. When raw, the flesh will be nearly pure white and then turns off-white when cooked. Lake whitefish have high fat content and a mild flavor with medium-firm meat that has large flakes. The high fat content makes this fish ideal for smoking.

Product Forms

Fresh/Frozen
Fresh
Product Forms
Fillet
Head-on
Steaks
Whole
Fresh/Frozen
Frozen
Product Forms
Fillet
Head-on
Steaks
Whole

Fresh Seasonal Availability

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
nononoyesyesyesyesyesyesyesnono

Culinary Composition

Mild

Flavor

Medium

Texture

Health/Nutrition

Nutrition facts

Serving Size: 100g
Amount per serving
Calories 134
Total Fat 5.9g
Cholesterol 48mg
Sodium 51mg
Carbohydrates 0g
Protein 19.1g

Science & Management

Wild
Harvest Methods

Conservation Criteria - Wild

Impact on Stock

Lake whitefish are a freshwater fish related to salmon and trout that come from the Great Lakes in the United States and Canada. During the first half of the 20th century, whitefish were in decline from industrial pressure, habitat loss, contamination, and overfishing. Management measures introduced in the 1950s expanded over time and, as a result, Great Lakes whitefish have mostly recovered.

However, Seafood Watch gave whitefish in Lake Superior in Wisconsin an “avoid” rating due to lack of commercial harvest information as well as data suggesting that stock may be declining. The Lake Erie fishery received a high concern rating for abundance because independent surveys indicated that recruitment rates appear low. Whitefish populations in eastern Lake Superior have been declining due to overfishing and Seafood Watch reported that unlicensed fishing is happening in this area.

Habitat impacts (Wild)

Whitefish are caught with trap nets and bottom gillnets throughout the Great Lakes. Lake bottoms have soft substrates consisting of sand, silt and muck. The impact of trapnets on the areas where they are used is considered negligible. Bottom gillnets also have a low impact limited to anchors that cause minimal amounts of scouring during setting and hauling, Seafood Watch reported.

Bycatch

Generally the impacts of bycatch in Great Lakes whitefish fisheries are considered low due to the placement of gear and size restrictions on it. Lake sturgeon landings are prohibited because of their status as endangered or threatened in the Great Lakes. Although some do get caught unintentionally in gillnets used to target lake whitefish, scientists and fishermen found that most are returned to the water alive so there is no significant impact. Lake trout is also threatened and cannot be sold portside, but the amount of this bycatch in the whitefish fishery overall is low.

Management effectiveness

Lake whitefish has a patchy distribution and stocks that intermingle, which makes assessment and management complex. In addition, the Great Lakes span multiple countries and jurisdictions. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) is an international agency covering multiple jurisdictions that coordinates fishery management. Separate lake commissions within the GLFC conduct scientific research and make lake-specific management recommendations. Whitefish scientific research and monitoring in the Great Lakes is highly effective. Complete and robust scientific stock assessments are carried out on a regular basis. Seafood Watch noted that lake trout is a species of concern and it’s unclear when the population will reach management goals for recovery. In general, however, recent Seafood Watch reports found lake whitefish management to be effective. 

Conservation Criteria - Farmed

Origin Method Ratings
All Other Origins All Other Fishing Methods  
Canada - Lake Erie Gillnet  
Canada - Lake Huron Gillnet  
Canada - Lake Manitoba Midwater Gillnet  
Canada - Lake Ontario Gillnet  
Canada - Lake Simcoe & Mora River Gillnet  
Canada - Lake Simcoe & Mora River Trap Net  
Canada - Lake Superior Gillnet  
USA - Lake Erie (Michigan) Trap Net  
USA - Lake Erie (Ohio) Trap Net  
USA - Lake Huron Gillnet  
USA - Lake Huron Trap Net  
USA - Lake Michigan (Michigan) Gillnet  
USA - Lake Michigan (Michigan) Trap Net  
USA - Lake Michigan (Wisconsin) Gillnet  
USA - Lake Michigan (Wisconsin) Trap Net  
USA - Lake Superior (Michigan) Gillnet  
USA - Lake Superior (Michigan) Trap Net  
USA - Lake Superior (Wisconsin) Trap Net  
USA - Lake Superior (Wisconsin) Gillnet  
Name Country State / Province
Bay Port Fish Company United States Michigan
Carlson's of Fishtown United States Michigan
Catanese Classic Seafood United States Ohio
Daily Seafood Inc. Canada Ontario
Dockside Fish Market United States Minnesota
Euclid Fish Company United States Ohio
Export Packers Company Limited Canada Ontario
Lusamerica Foods, Inc. United States California
Mackinac Straits Fish Company United States Michigan
Ruleau Brothers, Inc. United States Michigan
Seacore Seafood Inc. Canada Ontario
Seattle Fish Company United States Colorado
Seattle Fish Company - Kansas City United States Missouri
Susie Q Fish Market United States Wisconsin
The Fish Guys Inc. United States Minnesota
The Fresh Lake Whitefish Company United States Michigan