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What is Haddock?

Lumpfish, like Haddock, is a type of fish typically found in the North Atlantic.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 27 March 2014
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Haddock is a fish species of the genus called Melanogrammus aegelfinus which can be found in the North Atlantic, on both the European and the North American coast. It’s a popular fish with a white underside, and a black line running across its top. It can grow to be about 3.6 feet (1.1 m) long and is fished year round, particularly on the European coast. There has been an interesting change in haddocks in the last few decades: they are now growing larger more quickly, and the juveniles, which tends to stay in fairly shallow water, are now found in larger sizes.

Larger and older haddock can swim in very cold and deep water, almost 1000 feet (304.8 m) from the ocean’s surface. These are difficult to catch, and most often smaller juveniles that prefer a depth of about 100 feet (30.48 m) are more likely to be caught. A variety of methods are used to catch haddock, but some concern about decline in fishing catches in North America led to fewer people being familiar with the fish as a food source. This population is recovering, and haddock is once again being seen as a common food, especially in the North American East Coast. It has always been popular in Northern Europe.

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This fish has survived aggressive fishing because of its ability to quickly reproduce. Older and larger females can lay up to three million eggs a year. Younger fish just reaching sexual maturity may lay several hundred thousand. Of course, not all these fish survive and make it beyond the egg stage, but enough of them do to keep the population relatively stable.

Perhaps the reason for its popularity is that in taste, the fish is quite similar to cod. It’s a mild white fish that goes well with a variety of ingredients. In Massachusetts, haddock is sometimes called scrod, to distinguish it from cod, and to denote its juvenile status. The fish may be called by different names according to size. Markets are medium size and cows are the largest haddock. People also enjoy haddock because it is a very lean fish, with high amount of vitamin B12 and protein. If you’re looking for an oily fish to consume to get your omega-3 fatty acids, haddock is not a good choice, as it is too low in these fats.

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