White Hake (Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence)

Urophycis tenuis

SARA Status
No Status
NS
Special Concern
SC
Threatened
TH
Endangered
EN
Extirpated
EX

SARA Status

  • No Status NS
  • Special Concern SC
  • Threatened TH
  • Endangered EN
  • Extirpated EX
COSEWIC Status
Not at Risk
NR
Special Concern
SC
Threatened
TH
Endangered
EN
Extirpated
EX

COSEWIC Status

  • Not at Risk NR
  • Special Concern SC
  • Threatened TH
  • Endangered EN
  • Extirpated EX

Description

A fast-growing species that can live longer than 20 years, White hake can grow 60 to 70 centimetres in length. It has the following characteristics:

  • an elongated body with threadlike rays extending from its pelvic fins reaching past the tips of its pectoral fins;
  • a small barbel under its chin, and
  • its large mouth reaches to below its large eyes.

Contrary to its name, White hake isn't white at all. They vary in color. They are typically grey to dark purple-brown on the dorsal area, bronze to golden along their sides, and white to yellow on the belly with many tiny black spots.

Habitat

The Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence population of White hake is primarily found southwest of the Laurentian Channel.

White hake are found near the sea floor and they prefer areas with sandy or muddy bottoms. They seek depths with water temperatures ranging from 4-8º C. Larger fish generally inhabit deeper waters while small juveniles typically occupy shallow areas close to shore or over shallow offshore banks. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, white hakes of all sizes tend to move shoreward in summer and swim to deeper water in winter.

Threats

A fishing moratorium has protected the White Hake in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence since 1995. Since then, the Department has also implemented measures requiring smelt fishermen to release all groundfish (primarily white hake and winter flounder) from fishing gear when accidently caught as bycatch.

The primary threat to the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence population of White Hake is natural mortality which includes seal predation.

Further Information

For more information, visit the SARA Registry.

White Hake (Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence)

White Hake – DFO Quebec Region

Photo credit: Claude Nozères, DFO

Scientific Name: Urophycis tenuis
SARA Status: No Status
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
Region: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec

Distribution range

The map represents the location of the two White Hake populations in Canada. The southern Gulf of St. Lawrence population, referred to as DU 1 (Designatable Unit 1), is represented in red and is located in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, lying between the coasts of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Québec. The green zone represents the distribution of the Atlantic and Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence population, referred to as DU 2 (Designatable Unit 2), which extends from the southern Labrador shelf in the Northwest Atlantic to the border of the United States, excluding the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. There is an overlap among the two White Hake populations along the southern edge of the Laurentian Channel and a small area northeast of Cape Breton Island.

Related information