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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Spiny Dogfish

Marine Fisheries

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SPINY DOGFISH, Squalus acanthias

8-point rule

Dogfish

Life History

Spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias), a type of small shark, are found on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in temperate and subarctic waters. In the northwest Atlantic, they range from Labrador to Florida, but are most abundant from Nova Scotia to Cape Hatteras. They migrate seasonally, moving into North Carolina waters in the winter, then moving north in the spring. The preferred water temperature is 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Spiny dogfish are a relatively long lived, slow growing animals reaching a maximum size of approximately 4 feet. Males are mature at approximately 23.6-inches (6 years), while females mature at between 29.5 and 31.5-inches (12 years). The maximum recorded age for males is 35 years, and 40 years for females. The spiny dogfish gives birth to live young called pups. The gestation period is approximately 22 months with two to 15 pups produced (average of six). Offspring production (fecundity) increases with fish length. Mating occurs offshore in the mid-Atlantic during the fall and winter, and pups are born during the winter in the offshore wintering grounds.

Fisheries

Commercial landings for spiny dogfish increased steadily from 2007 to 2014, followed by a decline in 2015 and 2016 (Figure 1). The average commercial landings for the past 10 years were 2.4 million pounds. Most spiny dogfish commercial landings (99 percent) came from ocean gill nets (Figure 2), with a few coming from estuarine gillnets, beach seines, and ocean trawls. Most spiny dogfish in the commercial fishery are landed between December and March.

Recreational landings, estimated by the Marine Recreational Information Program, are insignificant for the 2007 through 2016 timespan (Figure 3),. The average recreational landings for the past 10 years is 1,656 pounds. Most of these landings came from anglers fishing in ocean waters from man-made structures. Recreational landings followed a similar trend as commercial landings with an increase from 2007 through 2014 and a decline in 2015.

Management

In North Carolina, spiny dogfish are included in the North Carolina Fishery Management Plan for Interjurisdictional Fisheries, which defers to Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council /New England Fishery Management Council fishery management plan compliance requirements. Spiny dogfish are currently managed under the joint Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councy and New England Fishery Management Councilplan in federal waters (3 to 200 miles from shore) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission 2002 Spiny Dogfish Interstate Fishery Management Plan (and subsequent addenda) in state waters (0 to 3 miles from shore). The plan established the annual quota and possession limit system. Addendum I (2005) allowed the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to set multi-year specifications. Under Addendum II, the quota was allocated with 58 percent to states from Maine through Connecticut, 26 percent to New York through Virginia, and 16 percent to North Carolina. Addendum III (2011) established state shares for New York to North Carolina, and Addendum IV (2012) addressed the differences in the definitions of overfishing between the New England Fishery Management Council, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission adopted the fishing mortality threshold presented in Addendum IV to be consistent with the federal council plan. Addendum V, approved in 2014, ensured consistency in spiny dogfish management with the Shark Conservation Act of 2010 by prohibiting processing at-sea, including the removal of fins.

Stock Status Overview

The 2015 stock assessment update, conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association Northeast Fisheries Science Center, estimates spiny dogfish along the Atlantic coast are not overfished and not experiencing overfishing. Female spawning stock biomass estimates from 2009 to 2014 exceeded the biomass reference point of 159,288 metric tons. The 2014 fishing mortality was 0.21, below the threshold of 0.24. The stock was declared rebuilt in 2008. The next stock assessment for spiny dogfish is scheduled for 2018.

Research Needs

Research is needed to determine area, season, and gear specific discard mortality estimates in the recreational, commercial, and non-directed (bycatch) fisheries. There is also a need to characterize and quantify bycatch of spiny dogfish in non-directed fisheries. More biological sampling is needed of spiny dogfish in the commercial fisheries and in research trawl surveys. Further analyses of the commercial fisheries are also warranted, especially with respect to the effects of gear types, mesh sizes, and market acceptability on the mean size of landed spiny dogfish. A coastwide tagging study of spiny dogfish is needed to explore stock structure, migration, and mixing rates. There also is a need for a standardized method to determine age of spiny dogfish, for the entire east coast.

Links

Management Agencies

North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council

Fishery Management Plans Amendments, Revisions and Supplements

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council

Stock Assessment Reports

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

Contacts

For more information,
contact Lee Paramore at
Lee.Paramore@ncdenr.gov
or 252-473-5734
Dogfish
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N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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