Hake (Merluccius merluccius)
Hake is one of the most important demersal fish stocks in European waters, and is commonly caught in mixed fisheries throughout the North East Atlantic, along with cod, haddock and whiting.
Hake can live for as much as 20 years, and reach a maximum size of 140 cm and 15kg, but their average size is closer to 45 cm. They reach sexual maturity at around three to four years of age. They are usually found in waters between 75 and 400 metres in depth, and tend to live close to the seabed in daytime, leaving it to swim up the water column only at night.
There are two stocks of hake in EU waters which have been identified as separate by scientists. The northern stock is found in the North Sea, Skagerrak, and off the Atlantic coasts of the UK, Ireland and France. The southern stock is located off the Atlantic coasts of Spain and Portugal. Hake is caught with a wide range of gears, both as targeted catch and as by-catch. In the case of the southern stock, it is commonly targeted by vessels also fishing for Norway lobster.
The northern stock seems to be stable while the southern stock has shown a decline over the last decades due to a range of factors, including overfishing.
Hake is managed under two separate plans, one for each stock.