Species Profile

White Hake Atlantic and Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence population

Scientific Name: Urophycis tenuis
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
COSEWIC Range: Atlantic Ocean
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2013
COSEWIC Status: Threatened
COSEWIC Status Criteria: Met criteria for Endangered, A1b, but designated Threatened, A1b, because abundance has stabilized over the past generation, in parallel with a reduction in fishing mortality.
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: Adults in this population are estimated to have declined by approximately 70% over the past three generations. Most of this decline occurred before the mid-1990s. The population has remained fairly stable since then, and there has been little overall trend in area of occupancy. Restrictions on fisheries since the mid to late 1990s over most of their range may be responsible for stabilizing their numbers. 
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Threatened in November 2013.
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd):

No schedule - No Status

Individuals of this species may be protected under Schedule 1 under another name; for more information see Schedule 1, the A-Z Species List, or if applicable, the Related Species table below.

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Quick Links: | Description | Habitat | Threats | Protection | National Recovery Program | Documents

Description

White Hake is a cod-like bottom-dwelling groundfish found on the east coast of Canada. Distinctive characteristics of White Hake include: single small barbell (whisker like organ) at the tip of their lower jaw; single anal fin (on the stomach); long trailing pelvic fins containing 2 thread-like rays, which almost reach the vent (external opening to digestive urinary and reproductive tracts); paired dorsal fins (on the back); large mouth, which reaches at least to below its eyes; and colouration varies with diet and habitat. Colour ranges from brown or purple-brown on their back, bronze or golden on their sides and white or yellow-white with small black dots on their belly

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Habitat

White Hake ranges from Labrador to North Carolina. Outside of Canada, the highest abundance of White Hake occurs in the Gulf of Maine and on Georges Bank in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization Division (NAFO Divs.) 5YZ. The Atlantic and Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence population includes White Hake in waters of NAFO Divs. 5Y and 5Z in the United States, and in Canadian waters on the Scotian Shelf (NAFO Divs. 4VWX), in the Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (NAFO Divs. 4RS) and in waters off of Newfoundland and Labrador (NAFO Divs. 3LNOP). White Hake within the Atlantic and Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence population are also found in waters greater than 200 meters depth in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence (NAFO Divs. 4T). Depth, temperature and salinity preferences of White Hake vary with body size. Larger fish are generally found in deeper waters and juveniles usually occupy shallow areas close to shore or over shallow offshore banks. Fish of all sizes tend to move inshore in summer and travel to deeper waters during the winter months. Larger individuals are most often associated with areas of mud or sand. Smaller, newly settled juvenile fish are associated with gravel, mud, sand and eelgrass beds.

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Threats

Fishing mortality, from directed White Hake fisheries and bycatch mortality in commercial groundfish, lobster, scallop and Northern shrimp fisheries, is the only measureable threat affecting the recovery of White Hake. Overfishing in the late 1980s and early 1990s was the main reason for the decline of this population; however, the threat of overfishing is currently thought to be low. High levels of natural mortality exist in this population. The cause or causes are currently unexplained, but the Recovery Potential Assessment for White Hake (Urophycis tenuis): Population of the Atlantic and Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (2016) indicates that high levels of natural mortality are the primary factor affecting population recovery at this time.

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Protection

Federal Protection

In 2013, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) assessed the Atlantic and Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence population of white hake as threatened. This population of White Hake experienced a decline in adult abundance by approximately 70% between 1990 and 2013. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is currently undergoing a process to determine whether or not the species should be added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk as threatened under the Species at Risk Act (SARA).

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

4 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and status report on the White Hake Urophycis tenuis in Canada (2014-10-15)

    White Hake, Urophycis tenuis (Mitchill, 1815), is a member of the Family Phycidae, and is one of many cod-like (gadiform) fishes found on the east coast of Canada. Common names include White Hake, Ling, and merluche blanche (Fr). The combination of a single small barbel at the tip of the lower jaw, two dorsal fins, and elongated pelvic fins identifies fish from the western Atlantic in waters off Canada to the genus Urophycis. White Hake and Red Hake (Urophysis chuss) are distinguished by the number of lateral line scales and the number of gill rakers on the upper arm of the first gill arch.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement – White Hake, Atlantic and Northern Gulf St. Lawrence population (2015-01-13)

    Adults in this population are estimated to have declined by approximately 70% over the past three generations. Most of this decline occurred before the mid-1990s. The population has remained fairly stable since then, and there has been little overall trend in area of occupancy. Restrictions on fisheries since the mid to late 1990s over most of their range may be responsible for stabilizing their numbers.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2013-2014 (2014-10-15)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to "assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species". COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2013 to September, 2014) from November 24 to November 29, 2013 and from April 27 to May 2, 2014. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 56 wildlife species. The wildlife species assessment results for the 2012-2013 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 0 Extirpated: 0 Endangered: 23 Threatened: 12 Special Concern: 20 Data Deficient: 0 Not at Risk: 1 Total: 56 Of the 56 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 40 that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 25 of those wildlife species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment.

Consultation Documents

  • White Hake (Urophycis tenuis): Consultations on listing under the Species at Risk Act (2019-02-18)

    The Government of Canada is consulting with Canadians on whether the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence (sGSL) and the Atlantic and Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (ANGSL) populations of White Hake should be added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk as an endangered and threatened species, respectively. Please fill out the online survey by May 6, 2019. Submit your comments here: Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence population Atlantic and Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence population
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