Lingcod Management and Research
Lingcod are highly susceptible to overfishing. In some areas along the Pacific Northwest coast (including Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia, and near Resurrection Bay) lingcod have been overharvested. Once overharvested, lingcod may require long periods to recover.
To protect this species from overharvest, lingcod fisheries in Alaska are conservatively managed. The current management approach is to assure sufficient fish are present in the spawning population to ensure future recruitment. This is done in three ways.
- Protect spawning female lingcod and nest-guarding male lingcod. Sport and commercial fisheries are closed during the spawning and nest-guarding periods.
- Allow fish to spawn at least once before being subject to harvest. Minimum size limits are established for both sport and commercial fisheries to protect immature fish from being harvested.
- Restrict catch limits. The sport fishery is restricted by daily bag and possession limits. Commercial fisheries are restricted by catch and bycatch quotas. To assure for the long-term health of lingcod stocks, we ask that you abide by these regulations and take only what is needed. Unlike rockfish, lingcod do not have a swim bladder and have a high post-release survival and thereby making them an excellent species to practice catch and release fishing.
ADF&G has been conducting a multi-year tagging study on lingcod in order to investigate movement and exploitation rates in Southeast Alaska. A total of 8,896 lingcod have been tagged opportunistically from 1996 to 2006 along the outer coast of Southeast Alaska. Lingcod were tagged at depths of 4–183 m with 70% tagged at depths greater than 30m and 18% greater than 100 m. Most lingcod were tagged around Cape Edgecumbe, at the Edgecumbe Pinnacle Marine Reserve, or at the Fairweather Grounds. Dart tags were inserted into the flesh on the left side of the body below the front dorsal fin. A total of 344 lingcod tags have been recovered and returned with complete location information.
Female lingcod had a greater range of travel than males with females traveling 0.03 to 776.43 km and males 0.05 to 106.88 km. One female traveled 412 km from the south end of Kruzof Island to British Columbia, three females traveled about 500 km from the Fairweather Grounds to Prince William Sound, and one traveled nearly 800 km in 662 days from the north end of Kruzof Island to Prince William Sound.
Males appeared to be in shallower water and distributed closer to shore than females. Tagged males that were recovered were caught by gear at an average depth of 46 m, whereas females were recovered at an average depth of 86 m. Smaller females, less than 780 mm were found closer to shore in shallower water. Lingcod are distributed by size and sex with smaller lingcod, predominately males, inhabiting shallow nearshore reefs (Cass et al. 1984).
Even though a similar proportion of males and females were tagged (51% vs. 49%), a larger proportion of females (69% versus 31%) were recovered. Similar proportions of males and females were recovered by jig or sport gear; however, almost all lingcod recovered by longline gear were females and double the number of lingcod recovered by dinglebar gear were females. Females were selected by longline and dinglebar gear possibly due to depth, fish size, or fishing location.