Species Profile

Lumpfish

Scientific Name: Cyclopterus lumpus
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
COSEWIC Range: Nunavut, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Atlantic Ocean
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2017
COSEWIC Status: Threatened
COSEWIC Status Criteria: Meets criteria for Endangered, A2b, but designated Threatened, A2b, because the species is not at imminent risk of extirpation.
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This marine fish species is broadly distributed across the Northwest Atlantic.  Directed commercial fishery landings have declined sharply since 2005, in spite of high market demand.  There have been declines in abundance of about 58% indicated in bottom trawl surveys over 19-20 years, conducted in the core part of its Canadian range (off southern Newfoundland).  However, abundance appears to have remained stable across other parts of the Canadian range such as the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence, making recolonization possible.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Threatened in November 2017.
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.

Go to advanced search

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

Description

Lumpfish are a thick round fish. They have a short head with a blunt, rounded snout and a mouth that opens slightly upwards. The first fin on the back forms a long crest in adult Lumpfish. The modified pelvic fins form an adhesive disc (sucker). Individuals can vary in body colour between different shades of blue, bluish grey, or greenish, while the underbelly is a yellowish or whitish hue. Their colour frequently matches their surroundings, particularly in young. Breeding males change colour to have orange/red fins and underside during the reproductive period. Females mature at larger sizes and reach greater maximum lengths (29-68 cm) compared to males (26-46 cm).

Top

Habitat

Depending on the time of year and life stage, Lumpfish can be found in the water column and near the bottom in a variety of habitats. Young-of-the-year often attach to eelgrass beds or floating seaweed in near-surface waters, while adult Lumpfish live in the water column except during the spawning season. Lumpfish of all life stages possess a sucker which they use to attach to objects such as lobster pots, stones, and seaweed, and which prevents them from drifting with the currents. In Canadian waters, Lumpfish appear to prefer waters less than 5°C, but may tolerate waters as warm as 18°C, and possibly more, for short periods; tolerance to differences in water temperate may vary with age. In the western Atlantic, Lumpfish distribution ranges from Newfoundland and Labrador waters and Flemish Cap to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Scotian Shelf, Bay of Fundy, and south to Chesapeake Bay. They also inhabit the Hudson and James Bays.

Top

Biology

Adult males exhibit a homing instinct which allows them to return annually to their preferred spawning areas. Females leave the nest after spawning, while male Lumpfish stay at the nest site to clean and aerate the eggs and protect them from predators.

Top

Threats

Fishing is the only threat for which direct, quantitative data is available, and may be a factor in the significant decline in abundance since 2005. A Lumpfish roe fishery where large females are selectively removed from the population was developed in the late 1960s and currently occurs in Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) divisions 3KL, 3P and 4RS. There is no quota regulation for this fishery, however the fishery has Conservation Harvesting Plans in place in both the Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec regions. Current management measures include season dates, gear restrictions, depth restrictions, and vessel size restrictions. The destruction or pollution of inshore spawning/nesting habitat may also pose a potential threat to Lumpfish.

Top

Protection

Federal Protection

Provincial and Territorial Protection

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

Top

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.

3 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Lumpfish Cyclopterus lumpus in Canada (2019-02-14)

    Lumpfish is a member of the Cyclopteridae family and is the only species of the genus Cyclopterus. It is a thick, almost ball-shaped fish. The color is variable, often matching surroundings, especially in the young. Breeding males have a dark blue body, orange to red fins and belly, plus a metallic silver patch behind each pectoral fin. Their unusual appearance and wide distribution in the North Atlantic has led to the use of an unusually large number of common names including Lumpfish, henfish, lumpsucker, poule l'eau (Fr), grosse poule de mer (Fr), Lompe (Fr), Nipisa, Lepisuk, Qorkshuyoq (I). Note: This COSEWIC assessment was received by the Minister on October 15th, 2018.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Lumpfish (2019-01-11)

    This marine fish species is broadly distributed across the Northwest Atlantic.  Directed commercial fishery landings have declined sharply since 2005, in spite of high market demand.  There have been declines in abundance of about 58% indicated in bottom trawl surveys over 19-20 years, conducted in the core part of its Canadian range (off southern Newfoundland).  However, abundance appears to have remained stable across other parts of the Canadian range such as the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence, making recolonization possible.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report 2017 to 2018 (2018-10-15)

    Over the past year COSEWIC assessed a total of 90 wildlife species and 11 of these were assigned a status of Not at Risk. Of these 90, COSEWIC re-examined the status of 38 wildlife species; of these, the majority (87%) were reassessed at the same or lower level of risk. To date and with the submission of this report, COSEWIC’s assessments now include 771 wildlife species in various risk categories including 338 Endangered, 183 Threatened, 228 Special Concern, and 22 Extirpated (i.e. no longer found in the wild in Canada). In addition, 18 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct, and a total of 59 wildlife species have also been designated as Data Deficient and 197 have been assessed and assigned Not at Risk status.
Date modified: