Pacific Hake/Pacific Whiting (Merluccius productus)

drawing: pacific hake

The coastal stock of Pacific hake is currently the most abundant groundfish population in the California Current system. There are more Hake caught than all other groundfish species combined.

Smaller populations of hake occur in the major inlets of the North Pacific Ocean, including the Strait of Georgia, Puget Sound, and the Gulf of California. However, the coastal stock is distinguished from the inshore populations by larger body size, and seasonal migratory behavior. The population is modeled as a single stock, but the United States and Canadian fishing fleets are treated separately in order to capture some of the spatial variability in Pacific hake distribution.

Most Hake are headed, gutted and sold for human consumption. A secondary use is as fish meal, which is made by cooking the fish in a large boiler, crushing the resulting sludge so that bones are ground, pressing out the moisture to create “presscake”, dried further in a hot air dryer, and then ground into a fine powder called fishmeal. This method produces no waste; all parts of the fish are used. The main uses for fishmeal are as aquaculture feed and as protein filler in pet food.

Recently, The United States and Canada have embarked on a treaty to co-manage Hake stocks and allow for fair sharing of resources between the two countries. This treaty has been ratified in both countries and is being implemented for the 2008 assessment year.

Stock assessments and assessment reviews for Pacific hake are done annually in a collaborative effort by U.S. and Canadian scientists, and are available from the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) The Council adopts the Pacific whiting assessment in March of each year if recommended by the review panel and the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). Results from any adopted assessment are used to decide annual whiting harvest specifications and management measures in March of each year for whiting fisheries occurring later in the year.

Hake program staff:

Work on Pacific hake is conducted by a large number of people both within and outside the groundfish section:


Below are selected publications relating to the hake program. For more information or for a copy of any of these publications, please contact Chris Grandin.

Helser, T.E., Stewart, I.J., and O.S. Hamel. 2008 Stock assessment of Pacific Hake (Whiting) in U.S. and Canadian waters in 2008. 129 p.

Martell, S. 2008. Assessment and management advice for Pacific hake in U.S. and Canadian waters in 2008. 47 p.

Sinclair, A.F. and C.J. Grandin. 2008. Canadian fishery distribution, Index analysis, and Virtual Population Analysis of Pacific Hake, 2008. 59p.

T. E. Helser and S. J. D. Martell. 2007. Stock Assessment of Pacific Hake (whiting) in U.S. and Canadian Waters in 2007Technical report, Northwest Fisheries Science Center National Marine Fisheries Service National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 2725 Mont- lake Blvd., East Seattle, WA 98112, USA., 2007.