Monkfish

Monkfish
Common Name Monkfish
Market Name goosefish
Scientific name Lophius americanus

Sourcing Summary

Size

7-15 lbs.

Monkfish have a mild taste and texture similar to lobster to the extent that they are sometimes called “the poor man’s lobster.” Fishermen tend to remove monkfish tail meat and livers to sell, discarding the rest. Monkfish is sold fresh whole, in skinless tail fillets, and whole skin-on tail fillets as well as frozen skinless tail fillets and whole skin-on tails. Tail meats range from 1-4 pounds, and is dense, boneless, firm. Tail meat should have flesh that’s off-white to pale gray when raw. Avoid tails that are discolored at the edges and headless monkfish that have dried up blood, indicating it’s begun to age.

Estimated sustainability by volume of monkfish landings in the United States based on landings data from 2014 according to current Seafood Watch® ratings is broken down accordingly:

  • ~45% of landings are rated "Good Alternative (yellow)" - caught by trawl or gillnets
  • ~55% of landings are unrated - caught by dredge gear but mostly due to landings not coded by specific gear types


Nine states reporting landings in 2014, but the large majority of "Good Alternative" seafood comes from 4 states: Massachusetts (~40%), New Jersey (~18%), Rhode Island (~13%), and New York (~10%). In the unrated (or unknown) category, the landings primarily fall in two states: Massachusetts (~70%) and Rhode Island (~18%). It is important to note that in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the two states with the highest monkfish landings the majority of monkfish landings are unrated/unknown (~70% and ~60% respectively).

Product Forms

Fresh/Frozen
Fresh
Product Forms
Tails
Whole
Fresh/Frozen
Frozen
Product Forms
Tail
Whole

Fresh Seasonal Availability

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
yesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes

Culinary Composition

Sweet

Flavor

Firm

Texture

High

Oil

Cooking Methods

Health/Nutrition

Nutrition facts

Serving Size: 100g
Amount per serving
Calories 76
Total Fat 1.5g
Cholesterol 25mg
Sodium 18mg
Carbohydrates 0g
Protein 14.5g

Biology

Males and females reproduce at lengths of 14" and 16" respectively and females can release more than 1,000,000 eggs. The monkfish's feeding pattern is very interesting. The fish has a large spine on their head that works similar to a fishing pole and bait that attracts its prey. When the prey come close enough, monkfish uses its enormous mouth to engulf the prey which is then trapped behind a mouth full of needle-like teeth. 

Species Habitat

Monkfish are found worldwide, but primarily in the North Atlantic (from Norway to the Mediterranean and from the Grand Banks to North Carolina). Monkfish and are found in both inshore shallow water and deeper seas up to 3,000 feet and is a bottom-dwelling fish that prefers sandy and muddy habitats. Monkfish migrate seasonally to spawn and feed. 

Science & Management

Wild
Science

There is a Cooperative Monkfish Research Program operated by both industry members and the Northeast Fisheries Science Center. The primary focus of the research is both survey estimates for monkfish population and a network to identify spawning patterns. Additionally, there are efforts to place electronic tags on monkfish and a set-aside program which allocates fishing days to use for monkfish research. 

Management

In the U.S., the monkfish fisheries is managed by NOAA fisheries with the New England Fishery Management Council and the Mid-Atlantic Management Council with two management areas. The management areas are north and south of Georges Bank due to differences in fishing methods. Both management areas fall under a single management plan which include annual catch limits, size and landing limits, and measures to minimize habitat impacts and bycatch. 

Harvest Methods

Conservation Criteria - Wild

Impact on Stock

Monkfish, a deep-water species found along the Atlantic coast of the U.S. and Canada, have characteristics including slow growth and dense aggregation that make them vulnerable to fishing pressure. Following increased demand in the 1980s and 1990s, monkfish were found to be overfished in 1999. Fishery managers implemented a rebuilding plan and in 2008, monkfish was declared rebuilt. Stock assessments done in 2013 showed that monkfish is not overfished or subject to overfishing, according to the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service.

Habitat impacts ( Wild)

Monkfish are caught with either bottom gillnets or bottom trawls. While bottom trawls and gillnets can have a significant impact on seafloor habitat, the gear used to catch monkfish operates in muddy and sandy areas that tend to be resilient to disturbance.

Bycatch

The monkfish fishery has bycatch that has included protected species such as sea turtles, large whales, harbor porpoises and Atlantic sturgeon, according to the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service. Bycatch primarily occurs through entanglements with gillnets, but strict measures are being taken to reduce the risk. Some intsitutes report that it is often is difficult to attribute gillnet deaths of marine animals and turtles to a particular fishery.

Management effectiveness

Monkfish fishery management measures include area closures, area restrictions, annual catch limits, minimum harvest size and gear requirements such as limits on large-mesh gillnets. The Monterey Bay Aquarium reports that total allowable catches have been frequently exceeded in the past, although the fishery has been improving on that in recent years. The monkfish fishery previously had an "Avoid (red)" rating from the Monterey Bay Aquarium but management actions and changes to the biomass targets helped that change to a "Good Alternative (yellow)" rating in 2012.

Conservation Criteria - Farmed

Name Country State / Province
Airson Seafood Iceland
Blue Ribbon Meats United States Ohio
Catanese Classic Seafood United States Ohio
Chatham Seafood Enterprises United States Massachusetts
Codfathers Seafood Market Canada British Columbia
Darel Co Inc. DBA Elafood USA United States Massachusetts
Empire Fish Company United States Wisconsin
En Gros Pierre Canada Quebec
Euclid Fish Company United States Ohio
FaroeLandia Ltd. Faroe Islands
Foley Fish United States Massachusetts
Harbor Pride Seafood United States California
Ice-co Foods Iceland
Imperial Seafood and Shellfish Inc. United States Ohio
J.J. McDonnell United States Maryland
Marder Trawling, Inc. United States Massachusetts
New Hampshire Community Seafood United States New Hampshire
Northeast Oceans United States Massachusetts
Northeast Seafood Products, Inc. United States Colorado
Ocean State Fresh United States Rhode Island
Port Clyde Fresh Catch United States Maine
Precious Cargo Seafood Company United States Oregon
Providence Bay Fish Company United States Rhode Island
Raw Seafoods United States Massachusetts
Red's Best United States Massachusetts
Royal Hawaiian Seafood United States California
Sea to Table, USA United States New York
Seafood Merchants Ltd. United States Illinois
Stavis Seafoods United States Massachusetts
Triar Seafood Company United States Florida
Wild Edibles, Inc. United States New York
Zeus Packing Inc. United States Massachusetts