Certifier : 
MRAG Americas, Inc.
Certified status : 
Certified since : 
30 Aug 2012
Certificate expires : 
21 Nov 2023


Fisheries are composed of one or more parts, each of which is entitled to receive an MSC certificate. These parts or “units” are defined by their target stock(s), fishing gear type(s) and if relevant vessel type(s), and the fishing fleets or groups of vessels.

When the term “Unit of Certification” is used for fishing units that are in assessment, it refers to the “Unit of Assessment” or “Unit of potential certification”. Expand a status below to view the parts that form this fishery. To check the detailed scope, download the latest certificate or open the Assessments page to get the latest report. Find out more by visiting our page on Fisheries

Units of Certification & Certificate Information

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Catch by Species

Species Reported Catch Year Metric Tonnes
Little skate (Raja erinacea) 2020 6,291
Spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) 2020 8,377
Winter skate (Raja ocellata) 2020 6,291

Information is provided by an independent Conformity Assessment Body as live weight (the weight of species at the time of catch, before processing) and where a fishing season covers multiple years, the end year is given as the reported catch year. Additional information is available in the latest report, see the assessments page.

About this Fishery

This US fishery was certified as sustainable in 2012.

It targets the spiny dogfish in the Northwest Atlantic, up to 200 nautical miles from the US coast. It’s the most abundant shark in this part of the ocean, and one of the most highly migratory demersal sharks. During spring and autumn the species concentrates in coastal waters between North Carolina and southern New England, and migrates northward to the Gulf of Maine-Georges Bank region. They return southward in autumn and winter.

Spiny dogfish school by size until maturity, when they school by size and sex. Growth is slow, with 50 per cent maturity in females reached at a length of 82cm and an age of 16 years. For males, the relative measures are 64cm and 10 years. They are found in a wide range of bottom water temperatures in the northwest Atlantic, ranging between 0°C and 17°C. The species has been caught near shore to as deep as 730m, although it is most commonly observed at depths of 50-200m. 

The fish are caught with three kinds of gear: otter trawls, long lines and gill nets.

Spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthiasimage © Scandinavian Fishing Year Book


Market Information

Most of the catch goes to the European Union in the form of fillets.