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European Whiting

Merlangius merlangus (Linnaeus 1758)

Biology

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The fish matures at between three and four years of age, and spawning takes place at a depth of 20 to150m. The time of the spawning varies from location to location: from January to spring in the Mediterranean; from January to September in the area between the British Isles and the Bay of Biscay; and throughout the year in the Black Sea. A large female can produce up to one million eggs. The eggs float in the open ocean and the larval whiting swim with other sea plankton until they have attained a length of around 10 cm. The fish grow quickly, with females growing faster than males, and can live to about ten years of age. The diet of the whiting consists of bottom-living organisms, such as crabs, shrimps, small fish, molluscs, worms, squid and cuttlefish.
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Conservation

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The whiting is listed in the UK Biodiversity Grouped Action Plan for commercial marine fish. Being a species that is found in international waters, it has proved very difficult to impose restrictions on the number of fish that can be harvested from the sea without reducing fish stocks below the important Safe Biological Limits (SBL) figure. The whiting is listed in the part of the UK Grouped Action Plan dealing with fish stocks in the Celtic Sea, and the total allowable catch (TAC) figure for this region was cut to 35% in 2001. At the moment, it appears that elsewhere the whiting's populations have not dropped below the SBF. It remains to be seen whether implementation of the rules and recommendations in the current Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) will allow population levels to stabilise and recover. One side effect of the original CFP has been to remove inefficient fishing boats from the fleets, allowing heavy overfishing by the 'factory' trawlers. This, coupled with the pressure on individual governments to support their country's own fishing fleets, has led to the harvesting of 'black fish', catches above and beyond a country's legal quota.
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Description

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The whiting is similar in appearance to its larger relatives the cod, the haddock, the coley and the pollack. It has three dorsal fins separated by small gaps, the third fin extending almost to the tail fin. The tail is not forked, having almost a square end. The two anal fins are very close together, nearly touching one another and, together with the anterior fin, are elongated. The pectoral fin is also long and projects beyond the base of the anal fin. The whiting's upper jaw projects slightly beyond the lower, and the lateral line is continuous along the length of the body. In colour, individual fish vary quite a lot, and there is often a small dark blotch at upper base of the pectoral fin.
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Habitat

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This fish is a bottom-dweller in water no deeper than 200 metres. It prefers mud and gravel beds but is also recorded on rocky bottoms. The young fry spend about a year in much shallower waters of no more than 30m depth, before migrating to the adult feeding grounds.
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Range

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The whiting ranges from the eastern North Atlantic to the south eastern Barents Sea, and from Iceland to Portugal. It is also found in the Black Sea, Aegean Sea, and Adriatic Sea, but is uncommon in the northwestern Mediterranean.
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Status

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Not subject to specific protection, but listed by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) as below Safe Biological Limits (SBL).
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Threats

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The biggest threat to this species is over-harvesting by the fishing fleets of many nations. Although the whiting is still a fairly numerous species, in common with a number of other commercially important fish it is now feared that there are more being caught by trawlers than reproduce annually. Domestic pressure on governments to support their fishing industries has led to the situation where overfishing takes place, and agreed quotas are exceeded.
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Brief Summary

provided by Ecomare
Whiting is a predator fish. It has long pointed teeth for devouring other fish. Its favorite food is eel-pout, sprat, lesser sandeel, herring, cod, haddock and ... other whiting. Young whiting don't eat fish but squid, crustaceans and worms. Whiting larvae often hide between the tentacles of jellyfish, where they are protected from their enemies.
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Diagnostic Description

provided by FAO species catalogs
Chin barbel absent or small. Upper jaw projecting slightly.

Three dorsal fins separated by small spaces and two anal fins touching each other or nearly so; anterior anal fin base elongate, one-half or more of preanal distance; pectoral fin reaching well beyond origin of anal fin; pelvic fin with a slightly elongated ray.

Lateral line continuous along its entire length. Lateral-line canals on head with pores.

Colour: variable; often a small dark blotch at upper base of pectoral fin.

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bibliographic citation
FAO species catalogue. Vol.10. Gadiform Fishes of the world (Order Gadiformes). An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue of Cods, Hakes, Grenadiers and other Gadiform Fishes Known to Date.Daniel M.Cohen Tadashi Inada Tomio Iwamoto Nadia Scialabba 1990. FAO Fisheries Synopsis. No. 125, Vol.10. Rome, FAO. 1990. 442p.
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Distribution

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Eastern North Atlantic from the southeastern Barents Sea and Iceland to Portugal, also in the Black Sea, Aegean Sea, Adriatic Sea and adjacent areas. Rare in the northwestern Mediterranean according to Bini, 1970.
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bibliographic citation
FAO species catalogue. Vol.10. Gadiform Fishes of the world (Order Gadiformes). An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue of Cods, Hakes, Grenadiers and other Gadiform Fishes Known to Date.Daniel M.Cohen Tadashi Inada Tomio Iwamoto Nadia Scialabba 1990. FAO Fisheries Synopsis. No. 125, Vol.10. Rome, FAO. 1990. 442p.
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Size

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Rarely reaching 70 cm; more common less than 23.50 cm.
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FAO species catalogue. Vol.10. Gadiform Fishes of the world (Order Gadiformes). An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue of Cods, Hakes, Grenadiers and other Gadiform Fishes Known to Date.Daniel M.Cohen Tadashi Inada Tomio Iwamoto Nadia Scialabba 1990. FAO Fisheries Synopsis. No. 125, Vol.10. Rome, FAO. 1990. 442p.
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Brief Summary

provided by FAO species catalogs
Benthopelagicat depths from 10 to 200 m, but more common from 30 to 100 m,mainly on mud and gravel bottoms, but also on sand and rock. The young are found in shallower waters, from 5 to 30 m depth.Whitings migrate only after the first year of life when they leave the nursery areas for the open sea.First maturity is attained at 3 or 4 years of age. The sex ratio averages 38.5% males and 61.5% females in the Irish Sea, and 32.2% and 67.8% respectively in the North Sea. Fecundity estimates range from 200 000 eggs in small females to over 1 million eggs in large individuals. Spawning occurs at 20 to 150 m depth, from January to September in the area between the British Isles and the Bay of Biscay, from January to spring in the Mediterranean, and throughout the year in the Black Sea. The eggs are pelagic, and the larvae and juveniles are associated with jellyfish, and do not become demersal until they reach 5 to 10 cm length.

Growth is rapid; at one year of age, the size of fish ranges from 15 to 19 cm, at 2 years, from 22 to 5 cm, at 3 years, from 30 to 34 cm; females grow faster than males, life expectancy is about 10 years.The diet of adults includes shrimps, crabs, molluscs, small fish, polychaetes and cephalopods.

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bibliographic citation
FAO species catalogue. Vol.10. Gadiform Fishes of the world (Order Gadiformes). An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue of Cods, Hakes, Grenadiers and other Gadiform Fishes Known to Date.Daniel M.Cohen Tadashi Inada Tomio Iwamoto Nadia Scialabba 1990. FAO Fisheries Synopsis. No. 125, Vol.10. Rome, FAO. 1990. 442p.
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Benefits

provided by FAO species catalogs
A relatively common fish taken especially in European Atlantic waters. The catch for 1987 reported in the FAO Yearbook of Fishery Statistics totalled 151 269 t, of which 119 701 t were taken in the northeastern Atlantic (UK: ca. 58 176 t, France: 32 998 t, Ireland: 9 558 t, Netherlands,: 8 575 t, Denmark: 3 024 t, and others) and 32 907 t in the northwestern Atlantic (Turkey: 29 528 t, USSR: ca 2 764 t, and others). Whiting are caught mostly by bottom trawls and longlines; also handlines and occasionally, purse seines are used. The total catch reported for this species to FAO for 1999 was 75 245 t. The countries with the largest catches were UK (25 561 t) and France (20 693 t). They are marketed fresh, as chilled fillets, frozen, and dried-salted. Also used as feed for the Black Sea trout.
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FAO species catalogue. Vol.10. Gadiform Fishes of the world (Order Gadiformes). An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue of Cods, Hakes, Grenadiers and other Gadiform Fishes Known to Date.Daniel M.Cohen Tadashi Inada Tomio Iwamoto Nadia Scialabba 1990. FAO Fisheries Synopsis. No. 125, Vol.10. Rome, FAO. 1990. 442p.
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Diagnostic Description

provided by Fishbase
Body elongate; head small. Chin barbel small or absent. Lateral-line canals on head with pores. Color is variable; yellowish-brown, dark blue or green, sides yellowish grey, white and silvery on belly; often with a small dark blotch at the upper base of the pectoral fin.
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Recorder
Susan M. Luna
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Life Cycle

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Oviparous, sexes are separate (Ref. 205).
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Migration

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Oceanodromous. Migrating within oceans typically between spawning and different feeding areas, as tunas do. Migrations should be cyclical and predictable and cover more than 100 km.
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Morphology

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Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 30 - 40; Analsoft rays: 30 - 35
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Trophic Strategy

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Lives above the bottom and often near the surface. Young live closer to the shore. Proportion of fish in the diet increases with age (Ref. 3663).
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Biology

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More commonly found from 30 to 100 m, mainly on mud and gravel bottoms, but also on sand and rock. Feed on shrimps, crabs, mollusks, small fish, polychaetes and cephalopods. Migrate to the open sea only after the first year of life. Eggs are pelagic. Larvae and juveniles are associated with jellyfish. Upon maturity, small chin barbel characteristic of juveniles disappear (Ref. 53061). Spawn in batches (Ref. 51846). Utilized fresh, dried or salted, smoked and frozen; eaten steamed, broiled and baked (Ref. 9988).
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Importance

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fisheries: highly commercial; gamefish: yes; aquarium: public aquariums; price category: medium; price reliability: reliable: based on ex-vessel price for this species
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Merlangius

provided by wikipedia EN

Merlangius merlangus, commonly known as Whiting or merling, is an important food fish in the eastern North Atlantic Ocean and the northern Mediterranean, western Baltic, and Black Sea. In Anglophonic countries outside the Whiting's natural range, the name "whiting" has been applied to various other species of fish.

Description

Merlangius merlangus has three dorsal fins with a total of 30 to 40 soft rays and two anal fins with 30 to 35 soft rays. The body is long and the head small and a chin barbel, if present, is very small. This fish can reach a maximum length of about 70 centimetres (27+12 inches). The colour may be yellowish-brown, greenish or dark blue, the flanks yellowish grey or white and the belly silvery. There is a distinctive black blotch near the base of each pectoral fin.[2]

Distribution and habitat

Whiting are native to the northeastern Atlantic Ocean. Their range extends from the southeastern Barents Sea and Iceland to Scandinavia, the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, Portugal, the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Adriatic Sea and parts of the Mediterranean Sea. They occur on sand, mud and gravel seabeds at depths down to about 100 metres (300 feet; 50 fathoms).[2]

In 2014, their conservation status was classified at vulnerable in the Baltic Sea.[3]

Uses

Until the late 20th century, Whiting was a cheap fish, regarded as food for the poor or for pets.[4] The general decline in fish stocks means it is now more highly valued. The other fish that have been given the name Whiting are mostly also edible fish. Several species of the drum, or croaker, family (Sciaenidae) are also called Whiting, among them the northern kingfish (Menticirrhus saxatilis). Whiting was used as a fringe plot point and mise-en-scène in the acclaimed crime drama television series The Wire.

Parasites

Whiting and related other Gadidae species are plagued by parasites. These include the cod worm (Lernaeocera branchialis), a copepod crustacean that clings to the gills or the fish and metamorphoses into a plump, sinusoidal, wormlike body, with a coiled mass of egg strings at the rear.

References

  1. ^ Nedreaas, K.; Florin, A.; Cook, R.; Fernandes, P.; Lorance, P. (2014). "Merlangius merlangus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2014: e.T198585A45097610. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-3.RLTS.T198585A45097610.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Merlangius merlangus (Linnaeus, 1758): Whiting". FishBase. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
  3. ^ HELCOM (2013). "HELCOM Red List of Baltic Sea species in danger of becoming extinct" (PDF). Baltic Sea Environmental Proceedings (140): 72. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 October 2014. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  4. ^ "Whiting". www.BritishSeaFishing.co.uk. Retrieved 14 December 2014.

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Merlangius: Brief Summary

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Merlangius merlangus, commonly known as Whiting or merling, is an important food fish in the eastern North Atlantic Ocean and the northern Mediterranean, western Baltic, and Black Sea. In Anglophonic countries outside the Whiting's natural range, the name "whiting" has been applied to various other species of fish.

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