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Acadian Redfish

Sebastes fasciatus

Acadian redfish

Also Known As

  • Redfish
  • Ocean perch
  • Labrador redfish

U.S. wild-caught Acadian redfish is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.

Population

Above target population level.

Fishing Rate

At recommended level.

Habitat Impacts

Area closures and gear restrictions protect habitat that are affected by some kinds of trawl gear.

Bycatch

Regulations are in place to minimize bycatch.

  • Availability

    Year-round.

  • Source

    U.S. wild-caught from Maine to New York.

  • Taste

    Mild and slightly sweet. Redfish can be used as a substitute for haddock and similar fish.

  • Texture

    Medium firm, moist, and flaky.

  • Color

    White.

  • Health Benefits

    Redfish is low in saturated fat. It’s a good source of niacin, vitamins B6 and B12, calcium, protein, phosphorus, and selenium.

The U.S. Fishery

Fishery Management

  • We manage a single stock of Acadian redfish in U.S. waters.
  • NOAA Fisheries and the New England Fishery Management Council manage the fishery.
  • Redfish, along with other groundfish in New England waters, are managed under the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan, which includes:
    • Permitting requirements for commercial vessels.
    • Separate management measures for recreational vessels.
    • Time/Area Closures to protect spawning fish and habitat.
    • Minimum fish sizes to prevent harvest of juvenile fish.
    • Annual catch limits, based on best available science.
    • An optional sector (catch share) program can be used for cod and other groundfish species. The sector program allows fishermen to form harvesting cooperatives and work together to decide when, where, and how they harvest fish.

Harvest

  • Commercial fishery:
    • In 2019, commercial landings of Acadian redfish totaled more than 11.7 million pounds and were valued at approximately $6.2 million, according to the NOAA Fisheries commercial fishing landings database
    • NOAA Fisheries has been working with fishermen to increase opportunities to harvest redfish.
  • Gear types, habitat impacts, and bycatch:
    • Redfish are most commonly harvested using trawl nets, although they are sometimes also caught using gillnets, bottom longline, and rod and reel.
    • Area closures and gear restrictions reduce habitat impacts from trawl nets.
    • Fishermen follow management measures to designed to reduce interactions with marine mammals, including gear modifications, seasonal closures, and use of marine mammal deterrents.
  • Recreational fishery:
    • Acadian redfish are not a common target of anglers but may be encountered when targeting other groundfish species like cod and haddock.
      • Regulations are limited to a minimum fish size in federal waters.

The Science

Population Status

  • According to the 2020 stock assessment, Acadian redfish are not overfished and not subject to overfishing. Summary stock assessment information can be found on Stock SMART.

Location

  • Acadian redfish are found in the Atlantic Ocean from the coast of Norway to Georges Bank.

Habitat

  • Acadian redfish are found over rocky, mud, or clay ocean bottoms.
  • Off New England they are most common in the deep waters of the Gulf of Maine (to depths of 975 feet).
  • They tend to move off the bottom at night to feed and move closer to shore in the winter.

Physical Description

  • Acadian redfish are orange to flame red, with paler underbellies.
  • They have a flattened body that is longer than it is deep.
  • They have large eyes and a large mouth lined with many small teeth.
  • They have one continuous dorsal fin that runs from the nape of their neck to their caudal peduncle (where the body meets the tail) and a small tail fin.
  • Young redfish are marked with patches of black and green pigment. They don’t develop their red pigment until after they move to the ocean bottom.

Biology

  • Acadian redfish are slow-growing, long-lived fish.
  • Redfish can grow up to 18 to 20 inches long and live 50 years or more.
  • They mature at a late age (5 to 6 years) and have low reproductive rates.
  • They mate in late autumn and early winter.
  • Redfish give birth to live young (an unusual feature for fish), and fertilization, incubation, and hatching of eggs all occur within the female’s body.
  • Eggs are not fertilized until spring and then incubate for 45 to 60 days. Females release their hatched larvae from late spring through July and August.
  • Females generally produce between 15,000 and 20,000 larvae per spawning cycle.
  • Newly hatched redfish can swim well at birth and are soon able to forage for plankton (tiny floating plants and animals).
  • Their survival rate is relatively high compared with that of egg-laying fish.
  • Young redfish stay in the upper waters feeding on small crustaceans until they are about 2 inches long.
  • In the fall, the young settle to the ocean bottom.
  • Older redfish feed on larger invertebrates and small fish.

Research

  • Scientists at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center conduct bottom trawl surveys every year during the fall and spring in inshore and offshore areas off the northeast coast to assess and monitor the abundance of redfish and other species. Managers use these data along with information from Canadian, state agency, and university-run surveys to determine the status of the redfish stock.
  • Funded by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center's Cooperative Research Program, researchers, regulators, and industry members are conducting a project called “REDNET: A Network to Redevelop a Sustainable Redfish (Sebastes fasciatus) Trawl Fishery in the Gulf of Maine.” The primary objective of this project is to devise strategies and means to efficiently harvest the redfish resource in the Gulf of Maine while avoiding non-target catch.

Last updated: 01/08/2021