Lingcod

Lingcod
Common Name Lingcod
Market Name greenling, buckethead, bluefish, green cod, buffalo cod
Scientific name Ophiodon elongatus

Sourcing Summary

Size

10-15 lbs.

The highest quality lingcod is caught by hook-and-line gear and when the fish is bled and put on ice immediately. Most lingcod is caught as bycatch in other fisheries, but there are some targeted fisheries, namely Southeast Alaska. Raw lingcod flesh can have a blue-green tint, this is perfectly normal, and when cooked it turns a snow white color. Look for a grayish flesh color and/or blood spots to signal mishandling and dull eyes and faded gills on whole lingcod indicate a lack of freshness.

Key sustainability sourcing notes for lingcod based on combining landings data from 2012-2015 and the most recent 2014 (U.S.) and 2016 (B.C.) Seafood Watch assessments and MSC certification (2014):

  • ~7.5% of North American lingcod landings and ~60% of U.S. West Coast landings are MSC-certified (U.S. West Coast trawl-caught) 
  • ~10% of North American lingcod landings meet a Seafood Watch "Best Choice (green)" recommendation (~60% from Oregon, ~30% from Washington, and ~10% from California)
  • ~80% of North American lingcod landings meet a Seafood Watch "Good Alternative (yellow)" recommendation (~90% from British Columbia)
  • ~10% of North American lingcod landings are unrated/unknown (~75% from Alaska)
  • The total landings of U.S. West Coast lingcod were ~15% of the total allowable catch (TAC)

Product Forms

Fresh/Frozen
Fresh
Product Forms
Fillet (skinless, boneless)
H&G
Steaks
Fresh/Frozen
Frozen
Product Forms
Fillet (skinless, boneless)
H&G
Steaks

Fresh Seasonal Availability

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
yesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes

Culinary Composition

Mild

Flavor

Firm

Texture

High

Oil

Cooking Methods

Health/Nutrition

Nutrition facts

Serving Size: 100g
Amount per serving
Calories 128
Total Fat 3.71g
Cholesterol 66mg
Sodium 402mg
Carbohydrates 0g
Protein 22g
Omega-3 281mg

Biology

Lingcod grow quickly and can reach lengths of five feet weighing 80lbs. Lingcod can live up to 20 years with males reaching maturity around age 2 (20" long) and females age 3 (30" long). The spawing process of lingcod involves males claiming suitable territory for nesting, females making only a brief appearance to lay eggs, and males guarding the nests until they hatch in 8-10 weeks. As lingcod develop they move from eating zooplankton as larvae, shellfish  as small juveniles, small finfish (such as herring) as large juveniles, until they become aggressive predators as adults feeding on bottom dwelling fish and shellfish. Larval and juvenile lingcod are important food sources for salmon and rockfish, while marine mammals and sharks rely on large juvenile and adult lingcod as food sources.  

Species Habitat

Lingcod are found in the northeastern Pacific Ocean from northern Baja California to Kodiak Island and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, but they are most abundant between Washington and British Columbia. Adult lingcod prefer rocky bottoms at depths of 30-300 feet with males showing very little movement from where they were born and females migrating seasonally to spawn.

Science & Management

Wild
Science

There are currently no population estimates of lingcod in Alaska and the populations along the U.S.West Coast are estimated from analyzing data from resource surveys and fishery monitoring.

Management

The State of Alaska manages the lingcod fishery in both state and federal waters of Alaska. To protect this species from overharvest, lingcod fisheries in Alaska are conservatively managed to ensure enough fish are left to reproduce and replenish the population. Management measures:

  • Close the fishery during spawning and nesting seasons to protect spawning female lingcod and nest-guarding male lingcod.
  • Limit the minimum size of fish that can be caught to protect immature fish from being harvested and allow fish to spawn at least once before being subject to harvest.
  • Restrict catch through catch and bycatch quotas.


Current management of lingcod on the West Coast is covered under the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan:

  • Limit on the minimum size of fish that can be harvested.
  • Limit on how much lingcod can be harvested in a fishing trip
  • Certain seasons and areas are closed to fishing.
  • Gear restrictions to reduce bycatch and impacts on habitat.


Since January 2011, the West Coast groundfish trawl fishery has been managed under a trawl rationalization catch share program. Managers establish annual catch limits based on the health of each fish stock and then allocate a share of this catch limit to individual fishermen or groups of fishermen. Fishermen can decide how and when to catch their share – preferably when weather, markets, and business conditions are most favorable, allowing the fishery the flexibility to be more environmentally responsible, safer, more efficient, and more valuable. The goal is to allow fishermen to catch more of the healthy target stocks (such as lingcod) without increasing their harvest of overfished stocks.

Harvest Methods

Conservation Criteria - Wild

Impact on Stock

Lingcod is actually a bottom-dwelling Pacific greenling harvested from Alaska to California with the most concentrated around British Columbia and Washington. They grow quickly, the females are fairly fertile and the males guard nests until the eggs hatch although many animals eat the eggs. Seafood Watch reports from 2014 give lingcod a medium inherent vulnerability score overall. In 1999 lingcod was declared overfished but several years of strict catch limits helped the fishery get rebuilt ahead of schedule in 2005. Assessments from 2009 showed the stock to be well over target levels, according to the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service.

Habitat impacts (Wild)

Lingcod are mainly caught by bottom trawls and handlines in the groundfish fishery. They can get accidentally caught by the bottom longline and salmon troll fisheries, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service reported. Bottom trawlers can have a significant impact on the ocean habitat but restrictions in place limit the use of this gear, somewhat mitigating the effect, according to 2014 Seafood Watch reports for the U.S. West Coast and British Columbia.

Bycatch

Although bycatch used to be an issue in the lingcod fisheries, bycatch went down 75% following the implementation of a management plan on the U.S. West Coast in 2011, the Environmental Defense Fund noted. Improved gear has also helped trawlers targeting lingcod avoid bycatch hotspots. There are generally few true “bycatch” species caught in substantial amounts in the groundfish fisheries, Seafood Watch reports from 2014 noted.

Management effectiveness

In Alaska, lingcod is managed by the Department of Fish and Game. The lingcod fisheries are managed with other groundfish by the NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific Fishery Management Council on the U.S. West Coast, and by Fisheries and Oceans Canada in British Columbia. The catch-share management plan implemented in 2011 on the U.S. West Coast has been credited with bringing down bycatch numbers in the fishery. Management measures include gear and catch restrictions, minimum size limits, and seasonal closures. Seafood Watch found that the West Coast and Canadian lingcod management regimes had strong aspects. However, a 2014 report noted challenges with management strategy, implementation, and recovery of stocks of concern in British Columbia.

Conservation Criteria - Farmed

Origin Method Ratings
All Other Origins All Other Fishing Methods  
Canada - British Columbia Midwater Trawl  
Canada - British Columbia Bottom Trawl  
Canada - British Columbia, Inside Troll  
Canada - British Columbia, Outside Troll  
Canada - British Columbia, Outside Bottom Longline  
Canada - British Columbia, Outside Jig  
USA - Alaska Trawl  
USA - Alaska Hook and Line  
USA - West Coast Bottom Longline    
USA - West Coast Bottom Trawl    
USA - West Coast Handline    
Name Country State / Province
Alaskans Own Seafood United States Alaska
Albion Farms & Fisheries Canada British Columbia
Aqualine Seafoods Ltd. Canada British Columbia
Barlean's Fishery, Inc. United States Washington
Blundell Seafoods Canada British Columbia
Bornstein Seafoods Inc. United States Oregon
Canadian Fishing Company Canada British Columbia
Central California Seafood Marketing Association United States California
Clipper Ship, Inc. United States Washington
Cool Wild Fish Canada British Columbia
Daily Seafood Inc. Canada Ontario
Empire Fish Company United States Wisconsin
Export Packers Company Limited Canada Ontario
FishPeople Seafood United States Oregon
Foods In Season United States Washington
Fort Bragg Groundfish Association United States California
FreshCatch United States California
Half Moon Bay Groundfish Marketing Association United States California
Hallmark Fisheries, Inc. United States Oregon
Harbor Pride Seafood United States California
Ilwaco Landing LLC United States Washington
Kelly's Fresh Fish United States Washington
Lee Fish USA United States California
Lusamerica Foods, Inc. United States California
Monterey Fish Market United States California
Morro Bay Fish United States California
North Coast Fisheries LLC United States California
Northeast Seafood Products, Inc. United States Colorado
Northwest Fresh Seafood Company United States Oregon
OM Seafood Company United States Oregon
Organic Ocean Seafood Inc. Canada British Columbia
Pacific Harvest Seafoods United States California
Pacific Seafood Group, Inc. United States Oregon
Pickled Willy's United States Alaska
Pike Place Fish Market United States Washington
Pioneer Seafoods United States California
Port Orford Sustainable Seafood United States Oregon
Real Good Fish United States California
Sea Forager Seafood United States California
Sea to Table, USA United States New York
Seacore Seafood Inc. Canada Ontario
Seafood4life Products Inc. Canada British Columbia
Seattle Fish Company United States Colorado
Seattle Fish Company - Kansas City United States Missouri
South Bay Wild, Inc. United States California
Stikine Seafoods United States Alaska
Willowfield Enterprises Ltd. Canada British Columbia
Worldwide Seafoods (1997) Ltd. Canada British Columbia