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Anglerfish (Lophius spp) in Nordic waters

image of Anglerfish (Lophius spp) in Nordic waters

The demand for anglerfish for human consumption has increased in the last couple of decades because of the delicate consistency of its meat. Accordingly, the fishing pressure has increased considerably in all Nordic fishing regions. Relatively little has, however, hitherto been known about anglerfish biology and ecology. Assessment and management of Nordic anglerfish stocks is difficult to conduct due to the paucity of fisheries and biological data. Answers to questions regarding the spawning behaviour, migratory behaviour and juvenile drift, as well as more knowledge about growth, sexual maturation, diet and natural mortality, would thus form crucial contributions to present and future management of Nordic anglerfish stocks. This report presents a review of the status of current knowledge and research on the biology, ecology, fisheries and stock management of anglerfish in Nordic and European countries, including results and publications from a three-year Nordic cooperative anglerfish research project (2002-2004). Preliminary attempts were made at estimating current levels of fishing mortality in the Nordic regions, and the yield and spawning stock per anglerfish recruit. Recommendations on future research are also given.

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Biology and ecology of anglerfish

Anglerfish (Teleostei: Lophiidae) belong to a family of bathydemersal, dorsoventrally depressed fishes (Caruso 1986). Two European anglerfish species of the genus Lophius are distributed in the Northeast Atlantic including Nordic waters: white (or white-bellied) anglerfish (L. piscatorius L.) and black (or black-bellied) anglerfish (L. budegassa Spinola). The two species are very similar, the main distinguishing feature being the darker colouration of the mouth and peritoneum (body wall) of L. budegassa (Figure 2.1). The latter is also somewhat smaller than L. piscatorius.

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